Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to interpret which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.
People love reading about results. That’s because it’s one of the best ways to learn. You can read information all day, but results show you the practical application of the information. Create content showing real life results. It’s easy in my industry because results are all that matter. But this can work in other industries as well. Here are some non-marketing examples:

Thanks for the very, very in-depth article. I am a real estate agent in Miami, Florida and have been blogging all-original content for the past 21 months on my website and watched traffic increase over time. I have been trying to grow my readership/leads/clients exponentially and have always heard about standard SEO backlink techniques and writing for my reader, not influencers. Recently, I have had a few of my articles picked up and backlinked by 2 of the largest real estate blogs in the country, which skyrocketed visits to my site. Realizing what I wrote about, that appealed to them, and now reading your article, I am going to continue writing in a way that will leverage those influencers to help me with quality backlinks.
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.
Thanks Brian. I’ve had a “a-ha” moment thanks to you! Great advice. I knew that backlinks would improve the organic SEO rankings to our client-targeted landing pages but I never knew it was through getting influencers to backlink blogs. I always just assumed it was great content that users wanted to share with others. It was driving me mad why people love my content but never share enough. Now I know!
Brian, I’ve drunk your Kool aid! Thank you for honesty and transparency – it really gives me hope. Quick question: I am beyond passionate about a niche (UFOs, extraterrestrials, free energy) and know in my bones that an authority site is a long term opportunity. The problem today is that not many products are attached to this niche and so it becomes a subscriber / info product play. However, after 25+ years as an entrepreneur with a financial background and marketing MBA, am I Internet naive to believe that my passion and creativity will win profitability in the end? The target audience is highly passionate too. Feedback?
There are a number of ways to optimize your website for conversion—such as by including calls to action and lead capture forms in the right places, providing the information your visitors are seeking, and making navigation easy and intuitive. But the first step is to be attracting the right visitors to your site in the first place. Your goal when it comes to website traffic is to be driving more qualified visitors to your site. That is, those who are most likely to convert into leads and customers.

By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[26] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[27] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[28] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[29]

Backlinks. If content is king, then backlinks are queen. Remember, it's not about which site has the most links, but who has the most quality links pointing back to their website. Build backlinks by submitting monthly or bi-monthly press releases on any exciting company, and contacting popular blogs in your niche to see how you can work together to get a backlink from their website. Create the best possible product site you can, so people talking about the products you sell will link back. Try creating graphics or newsworthy content that will influence bloggers and news websites to link that content.

Content is king. That’s the saying, right? It’s true in a way. Your website is really just a wrapper for your content. Your content tells prospects what you do, where you do it, who you have done it for, and why someone should use your business. And if you’re smart, your content should also go beyond these obvious brochure-type elements and help your prospective customers achieve their goals.
Thanks Brian. I’ve had a “a-ha” moment thanks to you! Great advice. I knew that backlinks would improve the organic SEO rankings to our client-targeted landing pages but I never knew it was through getting influencers to backlink blogs. I always just assumed it was great content that users wanted to share with others. It was driving me mad why people love my content but never share enough. Now I know!
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.
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For example, let’s say I have a health site. I have several types of articles on health, drug information, and information on types of diseases and conditions. My angle on the site is that I’m targeting seniors. If I find out seniors are primarily interested in information on prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, then I know that I want to provide information specifically on those things. This allows me to hone in on that market’s needs and de-prioritize or bypass other content.
Thanks Brian for your article. I am in the healthy living niche. I want to team up with bloggers in my own niche where we can share material it makes sense to me. But I have my own unique message and that is what I have been devoted to! Dah! I see now that my focus should be on what is popular among my peers and add to this. I think I’m finally getting the picture! I am specifically into FOOD MEDICINE perhaps I should start writting about the dangers of a Gluten free diet! Not for everyone!
In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[30] On June 15, 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well-known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat any nofollow links, in the same way, to prevent SEO service providers from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting.[31] As a result of this change the usage of nofollow led to evaporation of PageRank. In order to avoid the above, SEO engineers developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated JavaScript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, Flash and JavaScript.[32]
Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.
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By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[26] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[27] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[28] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[29]
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Hello Brian, i am planing to start my blog soon and im in preparation phase (invastigating, learning, etc…). I have read a lot of books and posts about SEO and i can say that this is the best post so far. Its not even a book and you covered more than in books. I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and rest of the world, thats one of the most appriciate thing that someone can do, even if you do it for your own “good” you shared it! As soon as i start my site ill make and article about you!!

Before you say it – no, true guest blogging isn’t dead, despite what you may have heard. Securing a guest post on a reputable site can increase blog traffic to your website and help build your brand into the bargain. Be warned, though – standards for guest blogging have changed radically during the past eighteen months, and spammy tactics could result in stiff penalties. Proceed with caution.
Nice work Laura! This is going to be a great series. I'm working my way through SEOmoz's Advanced SEO Training Series (videos) Vol. 1 & 2 to build upon the advice and guidance that you and your team provided to me during my time at Yahoo!. Now many others will benefit from your knowledge, experience and passion for SEO strategy and tactics. Best wishes for great success in your new role.
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