Fantastic stuff, as usual, Brian. The First Link Priority Rule is always one that causes me great angst. I often get torn between search engines and usability when it comes to the main navigation bar. And, I’ve never known what the heck to do about the “Home” link. You can hardly target your keywords with that one without it being anything but awkward.

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?


Search engines attempt to rank results for a given search based on their relevance to the topic, and the quality and reliability a site is judged to have. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, uses an ever-evolving algorithm that aims to evaluate sites in the way that a human reader would. This means that a key part of SEO involves ensuring that the website is a unique and relevant resource for readers.

I’d add one thing to number 5: Writing good copy is crucial not just for your Title/snippet, but for your whole page, especially your landing page. You want people to stay on your page for a while and (hopefully) even navigate to other pages you have. Google looks at bounce rate and where they go after they hit your page. Learning to write good copy can not only increase conversion (if you’re selling something) but make your content more impactful and engaging. There are free books at most libraries or online to help.


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.

Search engine spiders can only spider through text. They will use the content on your site to determine what your site is about, which in turn will help to decide how highly your site will be ranked for specific keyword phrases when visitors type them into the search engines. For this reason, keyword research is critical to obtaining natural search engine placement and should be at the top of your list when mapping out your SEO strategy.
Dig deep into everything you ever needed to know about links from anchor text to redirection. Read this series of pages to understand how and when to use nofollow and whether guest blogging is actually dead. If you're more into the link building side of things (working to improve the rankings on your site by earning links), go straight to the Beginner's Guide to Link Building.
Great article. My site has been up for several years now but I rebranded and switched from Blogger to WordPress about a year ago because I was told the reason why my traffic is so low is because I was using the wrong platform. I still haven’t seen an increase in my traffic and am very frustrated. I write in the health, fitness and parenting niche and I have over 30 experts that write for me, but I still don’t have the page views I would like. My paychecks are small and I am very frustrated. How do I find out what influencers in my niche are talking about and what they would like to share? I read tons of blogs, but most of them just review products or write about their kids, not a whole lot of similar articles. Where do I begin to find sharable content in my niche?
Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say "might" because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. The Webmaster Central Blog has informative posts on improving snippets with better description meta tags18 and better snippets for your users19. We also have a handy Help Center article on how to create good titles and snippets20.

Nothing looks sloppier than websites that don’t abide by any sort of style guide. Is your blog section a complete deviation from your website? If so, this very well could throw off your visitors and decrease engagement. Instead, make sure that all of your web pages are consistent in design, font and even voice. For instance, if you use a very formal tone on your homepage, but a super casual tone in your blog posts, this could highlight brand inconsistency.
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.
In the real world, its not so easy. For example, I have 2 niches where I’m trying to use your technique. By keywords, its Software for Moving and Free Moving Quotes. I have 2 websites that related to each of them, emoversoftware.com (emover-software.com as initial, they linked together) and RealMoving.com ( for latter keyword). So, to begin with, none of those niches has Wikipedia articles, so your first suggestion will not work. But, in general suggestions, you are advising to get backlinks (of authoritative sites of course). But check this out – my site emover-software.com has only 4(!) backlinks (https://openlinkprofiler.org/r/emover-software.com#.VXTaOs9VhBc) and, however, listed as #1 (or #2) by my keyword. (moving software, software for moving, software for moving company). RealMoving.com has more than 600 backlinks and is way back in ranks ( 170 and up) by my keyword. Even though those sites have different competition, its still makes no sense! It doesn’t seem like Google even cares about your backlinks at all! I also checked one of my competitor’s backlinks, its more than 12000, however, his rank by keyword related to moving quotes even worse than mine!.
Not sure exactly why, perhaps I used a number too big and since my page is about classifieds, it probably seemed too much to browse through 1500 ads, I assume? Somewhat like you would post 800 tips for better ranking? Don’t know, will try to change things a bit and see how it goes, but you really gave me some new suggestions to go for with this article. Thanks again 🙂

Hey Brian, This article is really really awesome, Seriously you have covered all 21 points which i never read on anywhere over internet. Everyone shares basics but here you have shared awesome info specially that face book keyword research and 1000+ words in a post, and the wiki pedia ideas are really good and helpful. learned many things from this article. keep sharing this kind of info thanks


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Hi Brain, I am a young business owner who has had 4 different websites in the last 2 years but none of them were successful as I would have liked due to lack of SEO. Now I am in process of starting another business and I felt it was time for me to learn about SEO myself. I must say the information you have provided is invaluable and extremely helpful!! I am learning on the go and you are my biggest contributor. Thank you Sir!

Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black or grey hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices.[54] Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's search engine results page.[55]
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]
Laura,Great post.  This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients.  The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series.  I look forward to more!
I have been trying to produce more content because I believed the lack of traffic was to the small amount of content, but after reading your blog post, i’m beginning to doubt wether or not this is quality content. I will definitely do more research on influencers on my niche, now I have to figure out how to get their attention with my kind of content.
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!
If you own, manage, monetize, or promote online content via Google Search, this guide is meant for you. You might be the owner of a growing and thriving business, the webmaster of a dozen sites, the SEO specialist in a Web agency or a DIY SEO ninja passionate about the mechanics of Search : this guide is meant for you. If you're interested in having a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to our best practices, you are indeed in the right place. This guide won't provide any secrets that'll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
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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