Create better content. Look for hidden keyword opportunities. Build more backlinks.
If you are as tired of the above advice as I am, this guide is for you.
It isn’t an SEO 101 guide. It doesn’t contain any arbitrary advice.
In this guide, I want to talk about advanced, clear, and actionable SEO tactics that you can start implementing right away.
The techniques and tactics that will follow this introduction have been used by our teams to drive incredible results for our clients. We’re talking results like a 100% jump in organic traffic, several new pages on the first page, and a lot more.
I am confident that if you implement these strategies with diligence, they will drive similar results for your online presence too.
Without further delay, let’s get down to business:
Secure Some Easy Wins With Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is hands down the very best search engine optimization tool currently available for website owners. Besides the staggering number of features it offers, what makes GSC truly special is the authenticity of the data it provides.
Unlike every other SEO tool, it sources its data directly from Google.
The incredible thing is that you can use this data to secure some quick SEO wins for your website. To do that, log into your GSC account and find “Search results” under the “Performance” section present in the left side menu.
On the resulting page, look for the “queries” option at the top.
Sort this list by impressions and you will end up with a list of keywords that are driving the highest number of impressions to your website (not clicks).
These are the keywords that have the biggest potential to drive traffic to your website.
How do I know this?
A high number of impressions means that the pages of your website that are targeting these keywords are ranking well and showing up in results that are viewed by the users. However, most of these users are not clicking on the result that features your website.
So all you need to do is to make sure people click on your website. How do you do that? Here are a few ideas:
- Improve your click-through rate with better meta titles and descriptions. You can find the exact step-by-step process to get this done in the upcoming section. This is the only way to directly improve your traffic numbers for these keywords.
- Publish more content. As you will discover in the upcoming sections, establishing topical authority is a great way to boost rankings and publishing a wide breadth of in-depth content relevant to your business is one of the most popular ways to build topical authority.
- In the pages that are already ranking well for these keywords, try adding more multimedia elements like videos and images. Studies show that pages that contain multimedia elements rank higher than text-only pages.
- Another thing that you can do to improve the rankings of your web pages is to build more backlinks to your website. Once again, the exact strategies to do this will be discussed in multiple upcoming sections.
You may have noticed that only one of the tips shared above directly influences the traffic numbers on your website and the rest are about improving rankings. The truth is, improving rankings is perhaps the best way to improve your traffic numbers.
Sistrix analysed 80 million keywords and billions of related search results. The research revealed many things. Among them, was the fact that over 28% of users click on the first result on the search engine result page (SERP). THis means, simply being present on the first page may not be enough to drive traffic to your website. However, ending up in the first position is highly likely to pay off.
Optimize For RankBrain
The RankBrain algorithm was introduced back in 2015. Simply put, RankBrain is an AI algorithm designed to consistently improve the quality of Google’s search results.
The algorithm is designed to analyze how users interact with the search results (especially on the first page). Based on this analysis, the algorithm improves its ability to provide more relevant results.
After a user enters a search query into the search engine, Rankbrain uses its existing knowledge to display the results that it considers relevant. Then, if the user is satisfied, it decides that the results it displayed are indeed relevant to that specific search query. If RankBrain realizes that the user is not satisfied, it will display a different set of results when the same query is entered into the search engine the next time.
So how does RankBrain decide whether or not the user is satisfied with the results displayed to them?
The algorithm uses two signals to determine this. These are also the two areas of your website that you must optimize in order to optimize it for RankBrain. These are:
Meta Titles And Descriptions
Meta titles are the blue text that appears at the top of each search result and meta description is the ‘normal’ text that is displayed right below. For websites appearing in the search results, these two are the only chance they have to convince a user to visit their website.
So, besides actually driving traffic to your website, what’s the benefit of optimizing your meta titles and descriptions?
The answer is simple. With the right kind of optimization, your meta titles and descriptions will attract more clicks. This will tell RankBrain that your result is indeed relevant to the keywords it is ranking for. That means, RankBrain will push your result higher in order to improve the experience of the user.
On the other hand, if you have a web page ranking on the first page that no one is clicking, you can expect your ranking for that web page to drop, very quickly.
So how do you optimize your meta titles and descriptions? The most common advice on this matter is to keep their length restricted to the acceptable limits. Google has limited space to work with in their search engine result pages (SERPs). That’s why Google limits the number of pixels and characters that can appear for each result.
This means, if your meta title or description length is more than the specified length, it will get ‘cut’. Ideally, you should limit the length of your meta title to 60-70 characters and your meta description to 155-170 characters.
However, this advice is simply to ensure the users are able to see your meta description. There’s more that you can do to make them appealing to the users so that they click-through to your website. Here are a couple of actionable tips:
- Use numbers: Numbers often attract a lot of attention on SERPs that are mostly English (or your preferred language) text. Numbers in headlines have been proven to generate up to 73% more shares. In the case of SERP results, numbers provide certainty. They tell the user exactly what they can expect when clicking through.
- Use a ‘hook’: This may sound like bad advice but it works well. When writing your meta title, find the one thing that will make the readers click on your result. The hook can be anything. For instance, the hook for this guide can be “advanced and actionable SEO technique” or “Actionable SEO tips that work in 2021”.
Optimizing your meta titles and descriptions is only the first part of making RankBrain happy. Once you have made sure that the user will click on your result, it is time to make sure they stay on your website.
Even after implementing the above advice, you may find that certain meta titles and descriptions are performing better than others. This is because content is subjective and so is your understanding of what your prospects want to see. What you may think will compel them to click on your search engine result may not be something they care about.
That’s why, the only dependable way to improve CTR is to consistently test your meta titles and descriptions. When it comes to testing these, you have two options. You can either spend time or money on the testing process.
Meaning, one way to test your meta titles and descriptions is to track your organic CTR data over a long period of time. Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait, you can run a test search engine ad using your meta title and description copy to see how well it resonates with your audience. You can even use this technique to test different copies against each other.
Improve Dwell Time/Decrease Bounce Rate
A ‘bounce’ happens when a user lands on your website but leaves without opening any other pages or spending any time on it. The RankBrain algorithm uses bounce rate as a signal to understand the relevance of a web page to the keywords it is ranking for. Web pages with low dwell times and high bounce rates lose their rankings quickly.
So how do you ensure low bounce rate and high dwell times for your web pages?
The trick here is quite similar to the techniques we discussed to make your meta titles and descriptions more attractive to the user. All you need to do is ensure you are providing the user with exactly what they came looking for. And you need to do it quickly.
For instance, when you write an introduction for a blog post, make sure you are not beating around the bush. As soon as the reader starts reading, they should get a clear idea of what they will get/gain if they continue reading. Take a look at this introduction:
As you can see, it gets right to the point and tells the reader what they will get if they spend more time on that web page.
Another common mistake that you should avoid is to overlook consistency between the keyword you are trying to rank for, your meta title and description, and the content on your web page. If the user spots inconsistencies, it will make for bad user experience and that will lead them to bouncing off your website.
Bring Pages From To The First Page Of SERPs With Interlinking
If you have a few pages raking in traffic from the first page of SERPs, there’s a good chance that you have an even larger number of pages ranking on the second page of SERPs for relevant keywords.
There is also a good chance that your web pages ranking on the second page of SERPs are bringing in a bit of traffic. However, unless you are ranking on the first page of Google SERPs, you cannot expect a healthy amount of traffic. Some studies show that less than 1% of Google users ever end up on the second page of results.
So how do you promote these pages to the first page of Google results? Sure, there are on-page optimization tasks that you will have to perform. Building high authority backlinks is also a good idea.
However, building a backlink profile strong enough to push your web page to the first page of Google results can be a time consuming undertaking.
This is particularly because of the time taken to determine where you should get links from, time taken to update existing content for the purpose of building links, and time taken to reach out and convince people to link to your awesome page adds up. The most disheartening challenge is that despite doing this, many of your efforts may go in vain and many websites may refuse to link to your web page.
The solution? Give out the backlinks you need yourself.
That’s right. If you have pages ranking on the first page, you can use the ‘link juice’ from those pages to improve the authority of your web pages on the second page of the SERPs.
It’s a simple three step process:
Step 1: Find all the pages of your website that are not ranking on the first page. You can use Google Search Console for this purpose.
In the Search Console, simply hit the “Search Results” option and view by “Average Position”. Next, sort the results by position. You will then be presented with a list of keywords that you are ranking for.
Out of these, filter out those keywords for which you are ranking between positions 11 and 30 (page 2 and 3 ranks).
If these keywords are driving any amount of traffic to your website, there is a good chance that they have decent search volume and are worth your time.
Once you have this list, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Identify the pages with the highest number of backlink authority on your website. To do this, simply enter your website URL into a backlink checker tool like Ahrefs. Then, filter the results by “best by link”.
This will give you a list of the most authoritative pages on your website. These are the pages from which the “link juice” will be passed to the pages we found in the previous step.
Step 3: Start interlinking. Identify relevance relations between your high authority and low authority pages.
Then, place links to low authority pages from your high authority pages. This act will help kickstart the passing of link juice between the pages.
If you have ensured that the pages with internal links are relevant to each other, you will start seeing improvements in traffic numbers and rankings soon enough.
Optimize For Semantic Search
Before Google’s Hummingbird update, the search engine used to analyze the keywords on web pages to understand what they are about. Similarly, the algorithm was focused on keywords to find and display relevant search results.
Nowadays, however, Google algorithms are capable of understanding the intent behind keywords. Meaning, Google doesn’t just pay attention to the keywords that are entered into the search bar, but tries to decipher the meaning behind those results.
To facilitate this feature, Google has also started analyzing websites differently. Instead of looking at keywords, the algorithm now tries to decipher the topic that the page covers.
That’s why, in order to rank in a semantic search powered search engine’s results, you must optimize your content around topics and keywords.
How do you do that?
It’s simpler than it seems.
All you have to do is produce more complete content. Meaning, don’t just cover the topic of your main keyword but take it a step further and cover the entire topic.
Let’s understand this with the example of this article about outsourcing SEO.
The keyword in focus is ‘SEO outsourcing’. However, the article covers all relevant sub-topics like things to look for when picking an outsourcing partner. Basically, it covers the entire topic of outsourcing SEO.
This tells Google clearly what the article is about.
So, in essence, optimizing content for semantic search is making sure your content is optimized according to the topic it covers, and not just the keywords.
That said, finding all relevant subtopics for all the keywords and topics that you want to rank for can be overwhelming. Not to forget, there is a good chance that you will someday end up forgetting to cover an important topic.
Don’t worry, there is a tool that can help. Known as the LSI Graph, the tool will show you all related keywords, subtopics, and terms when you enter your desired focus keyword into its search bar.
Build Unmatched Topical Expertise With Supporting Content And Interlinking
We have already discussed the importance of building topical expertise and the basics of how you can do it with a single piece of content.
We have also discussed the benefits of interlinking and how you can use it to your advantage.
Now, let’s discuss how topical expertise can be built using interlinking.
While writing an extremely detailed piece of content is a good way to communicate topical expertise to search engines, there are not many topics that can be covered in their entirety in a single blog post.
Sure, you can write an exhaustive guide on a vast subject like social media marketing. However, a large wall of text that spans across 20 page lengths is not going to attract many readers.
This is where topic clusters and pillar pages become relevant. These terms were introduced by Hubspot.
Pillar pages are detailed pages that broadly cover a topic. This guide is a good example of a pillar page. It covers a lot about SEO, even dives deep into a number of strategies, but it isn’t even close to explaining everything there is to know about the subject.
Topic clusters are pages that support a pillar page. These pages are internally linked to each other, and to the pillar page.
Let’s understand this with the example of a guide about social media marketing. Since the subject is a vast one, a number of ideas may be fit for a pillar page. For the sake of this example, let’s imagine that we have a pillar page titled “Growing Your Instagram Following Beyond 100,000”.
In order to justify the title, the guide will have to be very detailed and thus, will be lengthy. However, it may not make sense to cover more focused topics like Instagram outreach because they don’t directly relate to growing the number of followers.
With that said, it is a subject relevant to social media marketing and to Instagram marketing. So, the subject can be covered on a cluster page. It can then be linked to from the pillar page. Similarly, the cluster page can also contain a link to the pillar page.
Now, imagine creating content silos on different topics that feature a pillar page and a set of cluster pages supporting that pillar. This is how content marketing is being approached these days.
Successful companies are targeting high competition, exact match keywords with their pillar pages and supporting them with a set of cluster pages all optimized for different but relevant long-tail keywords (that see relatively less competition).
Don’t Forget Outgoing Links
We have already established the importance of interlinking. I am also sure that most of you reading this guide are also aware about the importance of backlinks or inbound links in SEO. If not, don’t worry, it will be discussed, at length, in the upcoming sections.
In this section, I want to talk about giving out backlinks to other authority websites. Contrary to popular belief, outgoing links are actually a ranking factor. This study has proven the same more than once.
It only makes sense. Google uses different signals to understand the topic of a website or a web page. Outbound links offer a great perspective into the same. Think about it, all the outgoing links on this web page are related to SEO because this guide is about SEO.
In 2003, Google rolled out a little known algorithm update called Hilltop. While it isn’t as well-known as Hummingbird or Penguin, it plays an important role in enabling Google to understand the topic of different web pages that are indexed in its search results.
Hilltop is essentially a signal that tells Google whether or not a web page is a hub of information.
As discussed earlier, delivering complete information in your guides (or pillar pages) and supporting them with relevant cluster pages is a superb strategy. However, to assume that your website contains the best content about all subjects and topics relevant to your business may just be a tad egotistical.
Even if you don’t agree, Google already considers certain web pages ‘the best’ when it comes to certain types of information and linking out to these pages is in your best interests.
This means, Google thinks that content pages that are considered hubs of knowledge hold more value than those that aren’t hubs. This also makes sense if you think about Google’s obsession with providing their users with the best possible experience.
If your web page is linking out to other authority pages containing relevant information, it is improving the user’s experience by telling them about other sources of information that are relevant to the information they were originally looking for.
By now, it must also be clear that in order to qualify as a hub, a page needs to have relevant outbound links.
So, whenever you are publishing a piece of content, besides making sure that it is linking to relevant pieces and pages on your website, it is also important to ensure that it contains outbound links to relevant pages on other authority websites in your niche.
Supercharge Your Content Strategy With Gap Analysis
Creating content is an indispensable part of SEO. However, you cannot achieve SEO success without creating content that covers the right topics and targets the right keywords.
Having a large variety of keywords to target allows you for more freedom to create content. At the same time, it also enables you to build a content strategy. Having a content strategy allows you to consistently produce meaningful and result focused content, ultimately driving organic traffic and SEO success for your website.
But the question is, how do you go beyond the keywords that you should obviously target and still ensure your content production efforts are focused in the correct direction?
The answer lies in observing the competition. When talking about keywords, observing the competition means conducting a keyword gap analysis.
As the name suggests, a keyword gap analysis tells you about all the keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you are not.
One of the easiest ways to conduct such an analysis is to use the Keyword Gap Analysis tool by SEMrush. The tool lets you compare your own list of targeted keywords with those of your top four competitors.
With a variety of filters, the tool lets you the keywords that all or even one of your competitors is ranking for.
Alternatively, you can use any premium keyword research tool to conduct competitor research. Then, you can use the list of competitor keywords and compare it with your own list of targeted keywords and find gaps manually.
Once you have identified keyword gaps, you can use them to inform your content strategy and expand the list of keywords that you are targeting with your content.
Maximise The Shareability Of Your Content
So you have created a superb content strategy and also probably have plans to support that strategy with equally awesome content.
However, have you thought about whether or not the content you are producing is worth sharing? Will someone read your content and think to themselves, “I should share this with my LinkedIn network”?
First, let’s talk about why getting your content shared is important.
Since this is a guide about SEO, let me begin by saying that social sharing numbers are probably not a factor that Google considers while deciding the ranks of the websites in their SERPs. Meaning, in broad terms, shareability is not an important aspect from an SEO standpoint.
However, when you dive deeper, things seem a little different.
While social sharing signals don’t directly affect SEO performance, they can bring more readers to your content. In most cases, it is safe to assume that at least some of said readers will have their own websites or may be contributing content to other websites. If these people find your content awesome, they may also find themselves motivated to link to your content.
And I don’t have to tell you about the SEO benefits of getting natural backlinks pointing to your content.
With that said, there are also several non-SEO-related business benefits of getting your content shared. With more people landing on your website, your brand gets exposed to more potential customers.
So how do you make your content worth sharing?
Producing high quality content that is relevant to your audience is obviously a prerequisite. Besides that, all that is left to do is to make it easy for your audience to share your content. You can do this by simply adding social sharing buttons to your content pages.
To make sure you are doing it right and taking absolute advantage of social sharing buttons, you can refer to this amazing guide on the subject.
Use Competitor Research To Guide SEO Strategy
A keyword gap analysis lets you create content and target keywords that your competition has overlooked. However, that doesn’t mean you can overlook the content and keywords that your competition is focusing on.
Conduction competitor research is in fact, one of the most important aspects of doing good SEO. Here’s how you can use competitor research to guide your own SEO success:
Target Keywords That Matter
If your competitors are targeting a set of keywords, and getting a handsome amount of traffic, it only makes sense for you to try to secure a chunk of that traffic.
Sure, you could simply start targeting keyword suggestions offered by your keyword tool. However, in my opinion, targeting competitor keywords saves you from experimenting and finding keywords that truly contribute to your bottom line.
To steal your competitors’ keywords, first identify one that is doing really well in terms of SEO. Next, put their URL into your preferred keyword research tool. You’ll be presented with a list of all the keywords that they rank for.
There. That’s it. That’s all you have to do to find the keywords targeted by your best performing competitors.
However, you will need to apply a little bit of diligence while choosing the keywords you want to target from that list.
This is true for two reasons.
One, your best SEO competitors may not be in the same business as you. For instance, at Digital Web Solutions, we compete with tools like SEMRush for a number of keywords.
Being an SEO agency, it only makes sense that we target a lot of the keywords that an SEO software targets. At the same time, it is also true that our audience will not search for a number of keywords that SEMRush targets. Meaning, when we conduct competitor keyword research using SEMRush as the competitor in focus, we have to handpick the keywords that are relevant to our target audience.
The second reason for being selective while stealing competitor keywords is that you may not always be able to create the kind of content that is ideal for a certain keyword. If, for instance, you see your competitors are ranking well with a video that you cannot produce, maybe that keyword is not right for you at the time.
It is also a good idea to let go of extremely competitive keywords that your competitors are ranking for, at least when you are starting out. Targeting such keywords makes the most sense when your website is already ranking for a healthy number of relatively less competitive keywords.
Copy/Improve Upon Your Competitors’ Best Performing Pages
Simply finding the keywords that your competition targets is not nearly enough to rank well. You need to produce the right content. You need to make sure your content is optimized for sharing, for being worthy of ranking high in the search results.
How do you make sure that your content is amazing enough for the revered first page? You look at the pages on your competitors’ websites that are ranking well and driving the highest amount of traffic to their website. Then, you create better content and better web pages that will outperform your competitors’ content.
Researching your competitors’ best performing pages is not just about finding the pages and content that is driving the highest amount of traffic. It is about understanding why those pages are attracting so much traffic and replicating the same strategy on your website. When done right, competitor research can reveal:
- Keyword opportunities and gaps (as already discussed in previous sections)
- Link gaps: Websites that the best performing competitors have overlooked while securing backlinks
- The content types and formats that search engines consider to be apt for certain keywords
Once again, you can use a SEO tool like SEMRush or RankWatch to discover the best performing pages of your competitors.
Implement Digital PR
Collecting authority backlinks is perhaps one of the most important parts of doing SEO. However, it is also the most challenging aspect of SEO.
This is especially the case when you look at first page results and realise that they have thousands of backlinks pointing to them.
So, the challenge isn’t just convincing high authority and niche relevant websites to give you a link. The real challenge is to conduct this kind of link building at a scale.
One of the best ways to tackle this challenge is to invest in digital PR.
Digital PR is simply the set of actions you can take in order to feature your website on authority new websites.
How do you do that? There are actually a couple of ways:
Sign Up With HARO
Help A Reporter Out or HARO is a service designed to help reporters collect authentic information from subject matter experts. For online business owners, it presents a superb opportunity to collect high quality links from authority news websites by getting featured as a subject matter expert.
Reporters use HARO for finding expert insight on a large variety of matters. Meaning, businesses from almost any industry can use the platform to collect high quality backlinks.
All you have to do is sign up to HARO and consistently check out the opportunities sent to your inbox. When you find something relevant, you can apply to be featured.
A word of caution though, there may be a number of publications that may be relevant to your business but may not be necessarily high authority. That’s why I strongly recommend doing your research before applying for any opportunity on HARO.
By spending enough time and putting in enough effort, you can effectively use HARO to build a consistent stream of backlinks to your website. However, if that’s not enough, you will have to depend on your content.
Support Your Content With PR
It’s no secret that producing ‘link-worthy’ content is the best way to get high quality backlinks. In fact, countless case studies have proven that it may just be the best way. However, there is little information available about what makes a piece of content ‘link-worthy’.
Here are a few actionable tips to help you create link worthy content and actually get backlinks from it:
- Remember that history repeats itself. This means that something that has been covered extensively on the web, has great potential to get traction again. Use this knowledge to find your evergreen topics. Once your piece gains traction, it will continue to gain links for a long period of time. All you need to do is to find the right topic.
The right topic is either something that is trending, or something that is evergreen, or both.
My two favorite places to find such topics are Reddit and Buzzsumo. Reddit is a goldmine of niche topics that are being discussed by real people. On the other hand, Buzzsumo is an online listening tool that will tell you about the most shared content pieces on any topic of your choice.
- Pay attention to trends. No, I am not repeating myself. Trends are not limited just to topics. There are also different types of content formats that trend in different industries from time to time. Be aware of such trends in your industry. What formats of content by your competitors have produced the highest number of links? Find out and start replicating.
- Everyone loves citing data. Even I do. It makes me feel smart. Not to forget, it also lets me put legitimacy to the claims made in my content. This means that I link to a lot of websites that contain data.
This also means that you should load your content with a lot of data. It will provide authenticity to your content and that will give people the confidence they need to link to it.
- Promote. With data. One of the biggest mistakes that many brands make while producing content is that they produce content and just stop. Don’t do that. If you think you have created something amazing, share it. Aggressively.
I am not talking about starting outreach campaigns. Sure, those work great. Especially when you quote figures from Buzzsumo to support the popularity of the topic you have chosen. But there’s much more you can do.
For instance, you can share the same content on social media, and you can get seriously creative with it. Instead of simply sharing it as a post, make dedicated video snippets of your content and post them as Reels on Instagram. Share your content with influencers and ask for their views on the subject. Then, share those views with your audience.
Employ Quick Link Building Tactics
As already mentioned, link building at scale is a big challenge. Building a single link at a time will only get you so far. If you want to see serious improvements in rankings, you will have to employ innovative strategies.
Following are a couple of strategies that have worked well for our clients:
Turn Brand Mentions Into Links
This is often one of the first strategies employed by brands that have been online (or in existence) for a while but haven’t really included SEO in their marketing mix. Meaning, if you have a relatively new business, this strategy may not work as well for you. However, even if your business has been around for only a couple of months and has a few customers, you may still be able to take advantage of this strategy to build a handful of quality links.
The reason behind the popularity of this strategy is that it is incredibly easy to implement.
To begin, visit mention.com. You can also find many alternatives to mention.com. In fact, these days, many SEO tools like SEMrush are offering the ability to track brand mentions.
Using the brand mention tracking tool of your choice, obtain a list of all the places where your brand has been mentioned. Then, filter out the websites that are mentioning your brand but not linking to your website.
Finally, send out emails to the owners/editors of these websites thanking them for mentioning your brand and politely asking to accompany that mention with a backlink to your website. That’s it!
If you are using an email marketing tool that allows for personalisation, then this method can potentially earn you hundreds of backlinks with a single email blast.
Find Link Building Opportunities On Websites That Are Available For Sale
Just like everything else, there are now platforms where website owners can sell their websites. Such websites are great for finding links to other websites from where you can get backlinks.
One good example of such a website is Flippa. Besides being a great platform for buying and selling websites, Flippa is also great from a link building point of view. This is because when a person lists their website for sale on Flippa, they divulge a lot of information.
A lot of this information is about how they made their website a success. Most sellers also mention the entire list of websites linking to their website they have put on sale.
To use Flippa to find link building opportunities, go to the website and search for websites in your niche.
Then, set the filters in a way such that only websites with 500+ monthly visitors are visible to you.
In the resulting list, you can find the referring domains that are linking to various websites that are for sale. Here’s what it would look like:
You can then use this list to identify backlink opportunities and reach out to the same website for a link to your website. However, keep in mind that you will have to create relevant content to secure these links.
With that said, for those who have the resources to produce content, Flippa can be a superb source of niche specific backlinks.
Build Links Using The Moving Man Method
Introduced by Brian Dean of Backlinko, the Moving Man Method of link building is nothing short of brilliant. To implement the process, go to a domain marketplace like Godaddy Auctions.
The domains that are on sale on such platforms are usually valuable for some reason. In many cases, the reason is the domain name itself. Meaning, the name usually contains one or two terms that are frequently used by people or have high search volumes.
In other cases, the domains on sale are valuable because they belong to defunct businesses. Because they belonged to active online businesses at one point of time, these domains have some domain authority to their name. Since they have domain authority, it means that they have backlinks pointing to them.
All you need to do is find such a domain.
Once you do, enter that domain into a backlink checker and hit search. You will have a list of all the websites that are linking to the non-existent website.
Now all that is left to do is send them an email informing them about their dead link. In the same email, send the link to a similar page on your website as a replacement suggestion.
If you find the right website, you can use this technique to get hundreds of backlinks with a single email blast.
Implement Broken Link Building
Cleaning up toxic links is a known SEO activity. It is necessary to make sure your website is not identified as spam by the search engines. This means, everyone cleans up their broken links, including the websites that you want backlinks from. This presents a great link building opportunity for innovative marketers.
In order to implement broken link building, you must first find dead pages with lots of backlinks pointing to them. How do you find such pages? Follow these steps:
- Step 1: Conduct a Google Search with a high volume, niche relevant keyword: The results on the first page would probably consist of a number of websites where you want backlinks from.
- Step 2: Open up a desired website and run it through a tool like Check My Links: Check My Links is a plugin that will scan any web page and report all the broken links on that page. Once you have identified a bunch of broken links on your desired websites, move on to the next step.
- Step 3: Find a non-existent page with lots of backlinks: To do this, simply enter each one of the broken links you found into a backlink checker. Then, filter out the pages with a high number of links. Then, make a list of all the websites linking to the dead page.
- Step 4: Create relevant content: If you want everyone linking to the dead page to link to your website, you must have relevant content on your website. So, start creating.
- Step 5: Start reaching out: With your awesome piece of replacement content live, start reaching out to the websites that are pointing to the dead page. Use the email to simply inform them about their broken link. In the same email, also mention your relevant piece of content as a potential replacement.
This strategy works well because unlike other strategies, you are not really asking other website owners for anything. Instead, you are offering your help. You are helping them keep their backlink profile clean and thriving. Make sure you remember this point of view while writing your outreach emails.
With that said, the results from broken link building may feel a little underwhelming initially, and that’s okay. Remember, there is no get rich quick scheme when it comes to doing quality SEO. Stay consistent and keep finding broken link building opportunities and keep reaching out to relevant website owners.
Broken link building is not just faster and more economical than other tactics like guest posting, it will also help you create some awesome, in demand content for your website.
Pro Tip: If you are having a hard time finding dead pages with backlinks to them, you are not alone. It is a well known challenge associated with broken link building. Fortunately, there is a solution- Wikipedia. If you have ever seen a Wikipedia page, you may have noticed that they are loaded with outgoing links.
Every time a Wikipedia editor spots a dead outgoing link, they don’t remove it. Instead, they mark it as a ‘dead link’ for other editors to verify. Once the link has been verified to be dead, it is removed. The time that lies between when the link is marked as dead and when it is removed is your window of opportunity. All you have to do is visit a niche relevant Wikipedia page, hit CTRL+F, and search for “dead link”. You’ll have a nice list of dead pages that have Wikipedia links. This, in many cases, will mean that other high authority websites in your niche are also linking to those pages.
If you are having trouble finding Wikipedia pages with broken links, here’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to such Wikipedia pages.
Optimize For Question Keywords
To say that the search engine result pages have evolved in the past few years would be a severe understatement. From showing ‘10 blue links’ as search results, modern SERPs now feature a variety of other features like knowledge graphs, featured snippets, and of course, the ‘People Also Asked’ section.
While it is definitely worth your time to optimize for the other SERP features, this section is dedicated to the People Also Asked (PAA) section. To make your website appear as answers to these questions, you will need to optimize for question keywords. Before we dive into how you can do that, let’s quickly look at a few reasons you should take this optimization task seriously:
- Over 40% of modern SERPs (by Google) feature a PAA section.
- 75% of PAA sections appear above the top three results.
- Featuring in the PAA section gives websites the opportunity to rank twice on the first page of Google.
- Optimizing for PAA requires only the production of text content, which is much easier than producing infographics and videos.
- It is incredibly easy to find relevant question keywords to optimize for.
So how do you optimize your website to improve its likelihood of appearing in the PAA section? Here are a few tips:
- The first step to this is to find the question keywords that you want to rank for. You have two free ways to do this. The first one is to use a tool like Answer The Public. Alternatively, you can simply use Google search. Enter a question based, niche relevant query into the search bar and hit enter. Question based search queries return results featuring PAA 86% of the times. So if you don’t spot a PAA section on the SERP, try again with a different question.
Once you spot the PAA section, just click on a question. As soon as you do, Google will automatically expand the list with other relevant questions that users are asking.
There you have it, a virtually endless list of question keywords.
- Once you have identified a set of question keywords, it is time to produce and optimize your website content to feature in the PAA section. Doing this is surprisingly easy. All you have to do is mention the question keyword as a question on one of the relevant pages on your website. Then, answer the question as directly as possible.
- It is also a good idea to follow up your initial short and straightforward answer with a detailed explanation. Remember, Google stays in business by providing a delightful user experience. If you help them do the same, you will be rewarded.
Publish Long Form Content
Numerous studies have been conducted with the objective of finding a relation between the word count of a web page and its ranking in the search engine results. The result? There is indeed a correlation between the two.
Here’s the fact: longer content tends to rank higher in search engine results. Backlinko did a study of over 11 million Google search results and found that the average word count of a first page result is 1,447 words.
If you remember that Google wants to provide their users with a great user experience, it is easy to see why longer content pieces rank higher than their shorter counterparts. The most obvious reason is that a longer piece of content is more likely to have in-depth information about a topic than a short piece of content.
Thus, longer pieces of content are considered better for Google’s purpose of providing complete and accurate information to their users.
The amazing thing is, better SEO performance is only one of the benefits of publishing long-form, in-depth content. Another hidden benefit of the same is the authority you gain in your industry when you are publishing pieces that are written to provide actionable information.
If your content is indeed useful and valuable, you can bet that at least some of those who come across your content will be motivated to share it with their peers or friends, giving your content and brand even more visibility.
Place Desired Anchor Texts Higher
Google did a lot of things to combat link spam. The most famous move was perhaps the introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm update. However, it wasn’t the only thing that Google did.
It also introduced something called the First Link Priority Rule. The rule is Google’s way of making sure that website owners are not placing several links to a single page in their content.
As the name suggests, the rule dictates that if two links are pointing to the same page and are present on the same page, the second link and it’s anchor will be ignored by the website crawler.
Still confused? Let’s understand this rule with an example. Here’s a screenshot of the top fold of our homepage:
As you can see, there are navigation links to different pages of our website at the top. All the navigation links are associated with different anchor texts that describe what the resulting page will be about, should the user decide to click on one of them.
Now, let’s say there is content in the second fold of this page and in that content, we have placed an internal link to our web development page with the anchor text “expert web development service”. In this case, when the search engine crawler crawls this page, it will only take the first link (and its anchor text), present in the navigation menu, into consideration and will ignore the second link.
Now that we have understood what the First Link Priority Rule is all about, it should not be hard to imagine how it will affect the way you use links on your website.
To ensure you are not missing any SEO opportunities because of this rule, keep the following tips in mind:
- As much as possible, try to use your most important keywords as anchor text in your website’s navigation menu. This may not always be possible as navigation menus don’t usually look good with long-tail keywords. If that’s the case, the other tips in this list will be relevant.
- One of the best ways to go around the First Link Priority Rule is to place your navigation menu at the bottom of the page. If this solution works for you, then that’s great. However, if your navigation menu is simply too important to be placed at the bottom, try one of the two tips that follow.
- Avoid linking to pages already present in your navigation menu. While this may seem like “running away from the problem”, it is actually one of the most common ways to go around the First Link Priority Rule. News websites are well-known for using this strategy. Have you ever seen a news report with a link pointing to the ‘business’ news page of their website?
- Use hashtag links. For those of you who don’t know them, hashtag links are used when you want to guide the user to a specific section of a specific page. This makes Google assume that when a hashtag link is used, only a specific section of the page is relevant to the user. For you, this means that even if you place multiple internal links to the same page on the same page, but include hashtags in those links, each link and anchor text will be treated as a unique link by Google.
Optimize For Image Search
The ability to search using images is relatively new. This means, optimizing for image search is something that a lot of your competitors may still be overlooking. However, the truth is that image search has great potential as a source of traffic.
Surveys have revealed that 62% of millennials have expressed that they want to use image search over all other search types. While it may be some time before image search numbers overtake text-based search, it is still a legit source of traffic.
The best part is, optimizing for image search is much easier than regular search engine optimization. Just follow these tips:
- Use descriptive alt tags for images. While alt tags are meant to help visually challenged users understand your images, they are also used by search engine crawlers for the same purpose. Make sure your alt tags are not only descriptive, but also contain the keywords you want to rank for.
- Similar to alt tags, it is important to have clear, descriptive, and possibly keyword optimized file names for the images hosted on your website.
- It is also a good idea to create a sitemap dedicated to your images.
- Don’t ignore image dimensions and file sizes. The correct image dimensions contribute towards creating a positive user experience. Similarly, compressed image files ensure that your website is not too heavy and loads quickly.
- If your images are messing up your website load times despite being compressed, consider hosting all your media files on a content delivery network (CDN).
Pay Attention To Core Web Vitals
Last year, Google announced that Core Web Vitals will become a ranking signal for their search engine. In essence, this is Google’s way of getting better at assessing the user experience offered by different websites.
To this end, a new update was rolled out earlier this year that has introduced a new ranking signal that combines Core Web Vitals with the user experience signals that Google was already tracking.
The on-page experience signals that Google was already tracking before the update were:
- Safe browsing
- No intrusive interstitials
Chances are that you have already been optimizing for most of these metrics. However, recently, Google has added Core Web Vitals under the page experience signal that it has been tracking. According to Google, the following come together to make up Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint: This is the measure of the amount of time a page needs to load the main content. Ideally, this time should be equal to or less than 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay: This is the measure of the amount of time it takes for a page to become interactive. Ideally, this time should be less than or equal to 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: This is the measure of the amount of layout shift of the web pages that contain visuals. Ideally, this measurement should be less than 0.1.
As you may have guessed, optimizing for these metrics will demand technical changes to your website. You can refer to our recent guide on the matter. As for tracking these metrics, you can do that with a variety of tools that are offered by Google for free. You may even be using a lot of these tools already. Some examples are:
- Google Search Console
- PageSpeed Insights
- Chrome UX Report
- Chrome DevTools
You can also use this Chrome extension to check the Core Web Vitals of any web page you visit.
There you have it, actionable information about the most recent, most effective SEO strategies. These are strategies we personally use to fuel our own growth, and that of our 800+ clients. I hope that this guide will help you fuel a similar growth for the online presence of your business.
If you have questions or want to share a strategy that I missed but has worked well for your business, drop your thoughts in the comment section below. If you need help implementing any of these strategies, let’s get talking. Head over to our contact us page and fill out the form. Someone from our team will reach out with help.