Do not be fooled by those traffic sellers promising thousands of hits an hour. What they really do is load up your URL in a program, along with a list of proxies. Then they run the program for a few hours. It looks like someone is on your site because your logs show visitors from thousands of different IPs. What happens in reality is your website is just pinged by the proxy, no one really sees your site. It is a waste of money.
The first relates to internal link structure. I’ve made the mistake you say you’ve seen so often. I have a primary keyword and have used that keyword in the main navigation, linked to a page optimized for that keyword. But I’ve also got a bunch of contextual links in posts pointing to that page, usually with the keyword in the anchor text. I now understand that those internal links aren’t helping much, at least from an SEO perspective. Am I better to remove that keyword and direct link from the menu and simply link the page from multiple posts and pages within the site. Or will I get better results leaving it in the main menu and changing the contextual links in the posts to point to a related page with a different keyword?
Use the right anchor text. Using our previous example: if you wanted to internally link to the “how to make money” blog post, you can write a sentence in another blog, like “Once you have mastered [how to make money], you can enjoy as much luxury as you can dream.” In this case, the reader has a compelling case for clicking on the link because of both the anchor text (“how to make money”) and the context of the sentence. There is a clear benefit from clicking the link.
You’re spot on, thanks again for sharing these terrific hacks. I remember you said on a video or post that you don’t write every time. Right that why you always deliver such valuable stuff. I have to tell you Backlinko is one of my favorite resources out of 3. I’ve just uncover SeedKeywords and Flippa. As LSI became more crucial SeedKeywords seems to be a tool to be considered.
As a simple example, I recently renovated a Victorian-era house in the UK, and throughout the process, I was looking for various professionals that could demonstrate relevant experience. In this case, having a well-optimized case study showing renovation work on a similar house in the local area would serve as great long-tail SEO content — it also perfectly demonstrates that the contractor can do the job, which perfectly illustrates their credibility. Win-win.

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.
A user-feedback poll is one great, easy way to help you better understand your customers. Kline claims, “Done incorrectly, these can be annoying for a user. Done well, it’s an excellent opportunity to help the customer feel that their opinion matters, while also getting needed insights to better market the company. One poll we ran for an e-commerce client helped us learn that 80% of potential customers cared more about the performance of the product than the price. [So,] we added as much helpful performance information to the website as we could.”

Brian, I recently found your blog by following OKDork.com. Just want to say you’re really amazing with the content you put out here. It’s so helpful, especially for someone like me who is just starting out. I’m currently writing posts for a blog I plan to launch later this year. I think my niche is a little too broad and I have to figure out how to narrow it down. I essentially want to write about my current journey of overcoming my fears to start accomplishing the dreams i have for blogging, business, and travel. In doing so, I will share the best tips, tools, and tactics I can find, as well as what worked, what didn’t and why.
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.
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?
Really its just a matter of getting creative - grab a cup of caffeine and think for a minute about what resources you have to try to get some insight on your visitors (or target markets) and their needs before you dive in.  Think about how much time it might take you (or what the cost of the reports would be if you are going to buy some market research reports), and tack that onto your billing as an optional service.
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!

Thanks Brain, these tips are useful. The key thing with most of the tips that you provided is that it will take time and most people want to have more traffic, but they do not want to do the work and put in the time. However, if you put in the word and you do a quality job then it will work out. I think that is the overall strategies that a lot of SEOs have to do today is just to take the time and figure out quality strategies.
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.

I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.
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.
If your social media profiles contain a link to your website, then you’ve turned your engagement into another channel for website traffic. Just be sure to engage moderately and in a sincere way, and avoid including links to your website in your comments—lest you appear spammy and hurt your online and business reputation. Increased traffic should not be the goal of your engagement, but rather a secondary result.
Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page30 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing "not found" errors31.
Hi Brian! Very good and exactly what I was looking for. I have a problem though, we are creating the first video editing software that edits video WHILE FILMING. We are video geeks with a lot of experience, however we are trying to appeal to GoPro users and video tutorial makers but we have little knowledge in that field. Any suggestions on how we write about that if we have no idea about the space?
Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time football fan might search for [fifa], an acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might use a more general query like [football playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google Ads provides a handy Keyword Planner34 that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Search Console provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to your site in the Performance Report35.
I consulted a few years ago before Yahoo and CNET and my clients were all small businesses, even friends' sites.  No matter the size of the project, you can still try to get some insight into your target audiences and what they need or want.  I mentioned in a previous comment I used Search once to determine sentiment on a site vs. it's competitors by searching for a feature the site and its competitors all had, along with "like", "love", "hate", "wish", etc.  I also took note of who the people were who said those things and where they were talking (forums, twitter, etc).  It's a hacked manual approach and although not nearly as quality as a good market research report, at least I have a llittle bit of insight before going out to make site recommendations based solely on tags & links.  If you're recommending the site build things that people want (and fix or remove things that they dont), you're more likely to gain links and traffic naturally.

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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