Beginner’s Guide to SEO [Search Engine Optimization] to Massively Grow Your Website Traffic

Beginner's Guide to SEO [Search Engine Optimization] to Massively Grow Your Website Traffic

If you are looking for a way to consistently drive free traffic to your website, search engine optimization is your best bet.

Today, most people find information about things they need in their day to day life by searching online using Google and other search engines.

Whether they’re looking for a place to stay during a vacation, a cute dress for a friend’s wedding, or even a plumber to fix their sink, most people turn to search engines for this information.

However, when searching for information online, most searchers rarely go past the results on the first page. This means that businesses that appear on the first page of search results pages (SERPs) get the lion’s share of this search traffic.

Businesses that appear on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) are not there by accident. Instead, these businesses used SEO to ensure that they appear on the first page of SERPs in order to attract free traffic from people searching for relevant terms.

Similarly, you can drive tons of free traffic (who might later become paying customers) to your site by optimizing your site for search.

For instance, by focusing on nothing else but search engine optimization, we were able to consistently drive over 1 million monthly visitors to our other blog, Cleverism.com.

cleverism analytics

In this highly detailed guide, we are going to teach you how to use SEO to attract free traffic to your site and achieve similar, or even better results.

Before diving deep into the technical stuff, however, let’s start by understanding what SEO is and why it is important for your business.

What Is Search Engine Optimization And Why It’s Critical For Your Website Success

SEO, or search engine optimization in full, refers to the process of tweaking various aspects of a website in order to rank higher for specific keywords in search engine results pages.

In other words, it is a way of improving your website so that when internet users search for phrases related to your business, your website appears among the results in the first page of Google and other search engines, with the aim of benefiting from free search traffic.

Search engines usually have a set of rules that they use to determine which websites should appear first when people search for specific terms, based on relevance and authority

SEO is all about making sure that your website adheres to these rules in order to increase your chances of ranking high in organic (non-paid) search results.

When your website is optimized for search, it can appear on search engine results pages either as:

A featured snippet: These are answer boxes that appear at the top of search results on Google with the aim of providing an answer to the user’s question without having them to click on any of the search results. Below is an example of a featured snippet.

featured snippet search result for "how to start a blog"

Organic search results: These are the normal results that appear on search results pages without being paid for. In other words, they are not ads. The image below shows examples of organic search results.

organic Google search results

People also ask: The “people also ask” box contains links to websites containing answers to other questions that are related to the search terms. Here’s how websites appear in the “people also ask” box.

people also ask box in Google search results

It’s good to note that SEO is more focused on the people making searches, rather than the search engines themselves.

Search engines are focused on providing the best search experience for users, and therefore, if you want to rank well, you have to understand what people are searching for, the kind of answers they expect, the intentions behind their search, and so on.

Why SEO Is Critical For Your Website Success

Engaging in SEO has several benefits for your website and your business. Let’s check out a few.

1. Bigger And Better Traffic

Search engines are the single biggest source of traffic for all websites. According to GrowthBadger, search accounts for 60% of all website traffic. Actually, compared to all search engines combined, Google drives 8 times more traffic to websites on its own.

Search traffic is responsible for 60% of total web traffic
Source: GrowthBadger

Therefore, focusing on search allows you to tap into the biggest source of traffic. However, focusing on search doesn’t mean much if you are not on the first page of search results.

Research by Brafton shows that 95% of searchers don’t go beyond the results on the first page of Google. At the same time, 65% of searchers click on the first 5 results on the first page of Google. By appearing among the top results, you can capture a huge chunk of this traffic and drive it to your site.

SEO Ranking Position and CTR %
Source: Reliablesoft

SEO is even more effective at driving traffic than paid ads on Google. According to Zero Limit Web, 71% of clicks happen on organic results on the first page of search results, whereas only less than 3% of clicks go to paid ads.

Aside from just driving traffic, search also drives the right kind of traffic – those who are interested in what you have to offer and are more likely to buy.

Unlike most other forms of marketing, which push out information about your business and products to consumers, whether they are interested or not, organic search traffic is a form of inbound marketing.

In other words, it is the consumer who is actively looking for information about the kind of products and services you offer. It is clear from the very onset that the prospect is interested in what you have to offer.

A report by HubSpot shows that 59% of marketers believe that inbound methods result in the highest quality of leads.

inbound marketing provides best lead quality for sales teams
Source: B2C

This means that, with SEO, you are not just getting more traffic, you are also getting better traffic.

2. SEO Is Free

Yes! You don’t have to pay in order for your website to appear on the first page of search engine results pages and get tons of traffic.

Most of the SEO practices that you need to implement in order to rank on the first page of search results, such as creating high quality content, improving your browsing experience for visitors, creating SEO optimized content, and so on can be done without spending a dime.

This can result in very huge savings for your business, especially when you consider that other the average cost per click for PPC campaigns is $2.32.

average cost per click for Google AdWords
Source: WordStream

You should keep in mind that SEO still needs some form of investment. Creating high quality content, optimizing your on-page SEO elements, performing keyword research and so on will require you to invest your time.

Sometimes, you might even need to pay an SEO specialist to optimize your site for you, or purchase some premium tools to optimize your site. However, you won’t be directly paying for traffic as you would with PPC campaigns.

3. SEO Provides Long Term ROI

One of the best things about SEO is that its impact is long lasting.

Consider this… When you implement a PPC campaign to drive traffic to your site, you might experience a spike in traffic within a short time. However, once you stop paying for the campaign, all this traffic will fall off immediately.

With SEO, it’s the complete opposite. A single piece of high quality content that has been optimized for the right keywords will continue driving traffic years after it was published. 

What’s several such pieces of optimized content, your site can continue enjoying tons of traffic for years with no additional effort from you.

4. SEO Boosts Your Authority And Credibility

SEO boosts your authority and credibility in two ways. First, internet users have come to trust search engines to deliver the best and most relevant search results.

Therefore, when your site appears on the first page of search results, users take this as an endorsement by search engines to mean that your site provides credible, relevant and high quality content, and therefore, they are more likely to trust your site.

Second, ranking high on search engines requires that you create high quality and useful content. Consistently creating and publishing such content – informative content that educates your readers and helps them solve their problems – can also make you appear more credible and boost your authority.

5. Improved User Experience

Good SEO is less about search engines and more about your site visitors. Most of the factors used by search engines to rank your website also have an impact on your user experience. I’m talking about factors such as:

  • Content quality
  • Website load speed
  • Site design
  • Mobile optimization
  • Content freshness
  • And so on…

By implementing SEO practices to boost your rankings, you are also providing an optimal user experience to your visitors. This can lead to more traffic, increased conversions, and ultimately, more sales.

How Search Engines Work: Crawling, Indexing, Ranking

Before you can start optimizing your site for search engines, you need to first understand how search engines work.

Trying to optimize your site without an understanding how search engines work is like trying to boost the performance of your car without any knowledge of what’s under the hood or how the components work together to make your car move.

So, how do search engines work?

Search engines basically do three things:

  • Crawling: This is the process through which search engines discover new websites and new content on the internet.
  • Indexing: This is the process through which search engines organize all the websites and web content into a search index. A Search index is basically a database of all the web pages that a search engine is aware of. If a web page is in the search index, this means that it can potentially appear in search results.
  • Ranking: This is the process through which search engines use search algorithms to determine how relevant a web page is to the search query and where it should appear in the results for that query.
search engine process flow
How search engines work. Source: Digital Payout

Let’s take a deeper, more detailed look into each of these three processes.

Crawling

New content is being added to the internet every single minute. Every single day, about 5 million blog posts get published. Search engines need a way to discover all this new content.

To find new content that is being added online, search engines send out bots known as crawlers or spiders to rummage through the internet looking for new content.

To do this, the crawlers start with some of the websites they already know about, and then follow the links within these websites to discover other websites. 

They then scan these other websites and follow the links within them to discover even more websites. This process gets repeated on a massive scale until the crawlers scan through most of the content on the internet.

This means that for your website to appear in search results, it needs to be accessible to crawlers. If crawlers can’t find your website, or a webpage on your website, this webpage will not be added to the search index, and cannot therefore be found through search.

Considering that crawlers use links to find new content, it is very important to ensure that all your web pages contain links to other webpages on your site, as well as external links. If a webpage exists on its own, without any other web page linking to it, it will remain invisible to crawlers.

A good way to discover if your site has been crawled and indexed is to go on Google and search for the following phrase “site:yourdomain.com” with the quotation marks.

For instance, if you use this advanced search operator to search for our other blog, Cleverism.com, you’ll discover that Cleverism.com has about 26,000 indexed pages.

number of indexed pages using advanced search operator

If you realize that your website has not been crawled, you can request google to crawl your site either by submitting a request through the URL Inspection Tool (for a few web pages) or by submitting a sitemap of your website (if there is a large number of pages to be crawled).

Indexing

After crawlers have scanned your website, they then add it to a search index, or a database containing all the websites that the search engine has crawled and deemed to be good enough to serve in search results.

Search engines retrieve data from their search index when providing results to a user’s search query. Due to the sheer number of indexes websites, search indexes are usually very big. For instance, Google’s search index contains over 100,000,000 GB of data.

Before your site is indexed, the search engine will analyze the content on the website and takes note of all the important information about your website or webpage.

Some of the information and attributes that search engines use to catalogue a webpage include:

  • Keywords on the webpage
  • All the other words in the page
  • Website freshness
  • The topical relevance of the page
  • The links contained in the page
  • Multimedia embedded on the page
  • And so on…

Ranking

Once a user runs a search for a certain query, the first thing the search engine does is to analyze and interpret the search query to understand what exactly the searcher is looking for.

While this might seem like a pretty simple thing, a lot happens in the background. The search algorithm has to interpret things such as:

  • Context: When you search for queries that may have multiple interpretations, the search algorithms check the context to determine what you are interested in.
  • The search intent: What does the searcher want to accomplish? Are they simply looking for information, do they want to buy, and so on.
  • Locational data: Are you looking for local or broad search results?

Once the search algorithms interpret your search query, they then go through the search index and identify all the websites within the index that are related to the search terms. This is done by looking at the content contained in each website, the type and quality of the content, the popularity of the content, and so on.

In order to present the searcher with the best results for their query, the search algorithms order these websites based on two things:

  • Relevance: How relevant each website is to whatever the searcher is trying to accomplish with their search.
  • Authority: How credible and important each website is.

The websites that are related to the search query are then served on the search engine results pages, starting from those with the highest relevance and authority going down.

In order to determine the relevance and authority of a website, search engine algorithms look at close to 200 signals and website attributes.

If your website is optimized for these signals, it is optimized for these signals, it is deemed by the search engine to be highly relevant and to have high authority, and as a result, it appears among the top search results.

Optimize These 200+ SEO Ranking Factors and Google Will Send You Tons of Search Traffic

Ranking websites in order of relevance and authority is not an easy thing to do. In order to present the most accurate results, most search engines rely on other 200 factors to rank websites.

While some of these ranking factors are well known and confirmed, search engines try to keep most ranking factors under wraps in order to reduce the likelihood of people manipulating the search results.

Through experimentation, however, SEO specialists have been able to uncover most of the signals used by search engines to rank websites.

Below, let’s check out some 200+ ranking factors that you should optimize your site for. The factors are broken down by category to make the list easier to follow.

Domain Factors

These are factors relating to the authority and credibility of your site’s domain, such as:

  • Domain age: The longer a domain has been in existence, the more credible it is deemed to be. However, the influence of domain age on your site’s ranking is minimal.
  • Domain history: If a domain has changed hands severally, or if it has several registration gaps, this might negatively affect its search rankings.
  • Page host domain authority: A new page hosted on a high authority domain will rank better than a new page on a domain with lower authority, if all other factors are kept constant.
  • Exact match domain: Domains that are an exact match for the search term usually rank higher, provided that the site contains high quality content. If the site content is of low quality, the site might get penalized. Carsforsale.com and carinsurance.com are examples of exact match domains.
  • Country-specific TLD extensions: If a top level domain has an extension that is country-specific, such as .au, .de, .ca, and so on, the domain is more likely to rank higher for searchers within that country. However, this will negatively affect its global rankings.
  • Spam-flagged domain: If a domain gets flagged for spam, this will negatively affect its rankings, even if you take action to get rid of the spammy content and restore the site.
  • Easy to read URL: If you keep your page URLs concise and easy to read, this can boost the domain’s search rankings. A study conducted by Ahrefs in 2018 proved that short, concise URLs are more likely to rank higher in search results. As the image shows below, the longer the URL, the lower the search ranking.
Number of characters in URL
Source: Ahrefs
  • Public vs. private WhoIs: If the WhoIs information for your site is private, this could signal that you have something to hide. On its own, private WhoIs information is not a red flag. However, when coupled with other signals, it can negatively affect your search rankings.
  • Penalized WhoIs owner: If you’ve ever been penalized by Google for creating spammy sites, your other sites might also be viewed negatively.
  • Keyword in top level domain: Having a keyword in your top level domain can boost your search rankings. However, this is not a very big ranking factor.
top page results include keywords in domain URLs
Source: GoDaddy
  • Keyword as first word in domain: If your domain has a target keyword as the first word, this can help you rank higher over sites whose domain doesn’t contain the keyword, or sites whose domain contains the keyword as the middle or last word.
  • Keyword in subdomain: Including a targeted keyword in your subdomain can also give a slight boost to your search rankings.

Keyword-Related Ranking Factors

These are factors relating to how well your site and web pages are optimized for the keywords you want to rank for. Some of the keyword-related ranking factors to keep in mind include:

  • Using keyword in the title tag: The title tag is what tells search engines what a web page is about. Therefore, including a target keyword in the title tag is a great way of letting the search engine know that the page is relevant to the search term. For instance, if you search for the “how to use content marketing to grow your business,” you will notice that all the top results have the keywords “content marketing” and “business” in their title tag.
Using keyword in title tag
  • Using keyword at the beginning of title tag: Including your target keywords close to the beginning of your title tag can improve your rankings, provided this doesn’t mess with the meaning of the title tag.
  • Using keyword in description tag: While Google claims that the use of keywords in description tags doesn’t affect search rankings, doing this can still improve the page’s relevancy signals. 
    • In addition, it can improve the click-through rate for the web page, since users can clearly see that the page talks about whatever they are searching for.
    • If you search for the phrase “what is content marketing,” you will notice that all the top results include the keyword “content marketing” in their meta descriptions.
Using keyword in description tag
  • Using keyword in H1 tag: The H1 tag on a web page acts like a second title tag, and therefore, including the target keywords in the H1 tag can help improve the relevancy signals for the web page, both to Google and to your site visitors.
  • Keyword frequency: Your target keyword should appear more frequently within the page content than any other phrase. However, you should not use the keyword excessively, since you might get penalized for keyword stuffing. A good approach is to use synonyms for the keyword, since Google understands synonyms.
  • Keyword density: Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword appears within a piece of content, compared to the total number of words in the page. Generally, you should ensure that your keywords don’t appear too close together frequently. The usage of the keywords in the content should appear natural.
  • LSI keywords in content: Latent Semantic Keywords (LSI) keywords are those that help search engines understand the proper context in the case of words that have multiple meanings, such as Apple (the fruit vs the company). Including LSI keywords in your content helps boost your search rankings.
  • LSI keywords in title tag and meta description: Using LSI keywords in the title tag and the meta description also helps search engines better understand the context of your content, which can also help boost your rankings.

Page Level Factors

These are factors relating to how well specific pages on your site are optimized. Some of the on-page ranking factors to watch out for include:

  • SEO page title: Also known as the title tag, this is what tells search engines what a certain page is about. Therefore, you should make sure that your SEO page title gives a clear idea of what the page contains. You can optimize the title tag further by including your target keyword in the title. 
  • SEO Description: Also known as the meta description, this provides more information about the contents of the page. Once again, make sure the meta description gives a good idea of the content within the page, and include one or two keywords in the description. 
  • Page load speed: Fast page load speeds can improve your search rankings. This is because the page load speed affects the user experience, and search engines show preference to pages with optimal user experience.

To check how good your page load speed is, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. For instance, by analyzing one of the pages on this blog using Google PageSpeed Insights tool, we can see that the page load speed is good.

pagespeed insights
  • Page load speed on chrome: Google also checks how fast a page loads on their Chrome browser, since this data takes into account other factors that might affect load speed, such as CDN usage and server speed.
  • Rel=canonical tags: Canonical tags prevent the content on a page from being considered as duplicated content. Duplicated content on a page will negatively affect your search rankings.
  • Page age: Older pages with evergreen content that is updated regularly tend to perform better than newer pages.
  • PageRank: Generally, pages with higher PageRank will rank higher, with all other factors kept constant.
  • Page layout: Pages with a user-friendly layout that make it easy to see the main content tend to rank higher than pages with poor layout.
  • Page categorization: Page categories act as a relevance signal for search engines, and therefore, pages that are properly categorized tend to perform better. 

For instance, if you have several pages talking about marketing, make sure they are all under the marketing category. Here’s how HubSpot does this.

hubspot URL structure for search engine optimization
  • Page priority on sitemap: Placing a page higher in your sitemap can positively influence its search rankings.
  • Direct traffic: Pages that attract more direct traffic will perform better in search rankings than those with low direct traffic. Search engines view direct traffic as an indicator that the page contains high quality content.
  • Repeat traffic: Pages that attract lots of repeat traffic tend to perform higher in search results.
  • Code and W3C compliance: Sloppy coding and lots of HTML errors can negatively affect your search rankings, since search engines see this as an indicator of a poor quality site. However, this is not a very strong ranking factor.
  • Bounce rate: High bounce rate on a page can signify to search engines that the page doesn’t offer what users were looking for, which can lead to poor search rankings.
  • Doorway pages: These are multiple pages that drive traffic to the same destination. Using doorway pages can hurt your search rankings.
  • WordPress tags: Like page categorization, WordPress tags also provide relevance signals to search engines and can therefore boost your rankings.
  • Page over-optimization: Excessively optimizing individual pages can result in your page getting penalized by Google. Some examples of over-optimization include using multiple H1 headers and keyword stuffing.

Site Factors

These are factors that affect the optimization of your entire site. Some site-wide ranking factors to watch out for include:

  • SSL Certificate: Sites with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate are more secure and are therefore favored compared to those without. Sites with an SSL certificate usually have HTTPS in their URL, instead of HTTP.
  • Site architecture: A well-organized site architecture makes your website easier to crawl and index and will positively influence your search rankings.
  • Site usability: Search engines rate user experience highly, and therefore, sites that have a smooth, intuitive interface tend to perform better in search rankings.
  • Site uptime: If your site frequently experiences long periods of downtime and crashes, your search rankings are going to take a hit.
  • Mobile responsiveness: With more people accessing the internet using mobile devices compared to desktop, search engines are giving greater priority to sites that are mobile friendly.
mobile share traffic
Source: Oberlo
  • Frequency of site updates: Sites that get updated regularly with fresh new content are more likely to rank higher than sites that rarely get updated.
  • HTML sitemap: Having a sitemap makes it easier for spiders to crawl and index your site. Without a sitemap, spiders might be unable to scan your site, which means that your site won’t appear in search results.
  • “Contact us” pages: Including a contact us page on your website can help boost your ranking in local search results. 

This is because the contact us page contains the name of your business, a physical address, and a telephone number, which are the most important factors for ranking in local search results.

Content Factors

These are ranking factors that are influenced by the content on your website. Content plays a very critical role in SEO. 

Fortunately, optimizing your content is one of the easiest aspects of SEO. Here are some of the content-related factors that affect your search rankings.

  • Content Length: Pages with long form content tend to perform better in search results than pages with short content. While length itself is not a ranking factor, long form content allows you to better engage and provide greater value to your readers, which is critical in getting a page to rank well.
longer posts perform better in search results and get better SERP
700Source: Search Engine Land
  • Unique content: Always make sure that the content on your site is 100% unique. Having duplicated content can result in your site getting penalized by Google.
  • Content structure: How the content on a web page is structured can also affect how that page ranks in search results. For instance, by including a list of the points covered in the content at right at the top, this can help your page appear in the featured snippet.
  • Content quality and usefulness: Having high quality and highly useful content is important if you want your content to rank in search results. High quality content keeps visitors on your site longer (which signifies to search engines that the content is valuable) and attracts backlinks, which are crucial for SEO.
  • Syndicated content: You can also improve your search rankings by getting your content syndicated on third party sites. However, care should be taken to ensure that the syndicated content is modified enough. Otherwise, search engines might view it as duplicate content.
  • Frequency of content updates: A website with a frequently updated blog will be crawled and indexed more frequently. Frequent content updates will also increase the number of indexed pages on your site, thus contributing to better search rankings.
  • Content freshness: Having fresh, new content can help you rank better for searches that are time sensitive or for trending topics.
  • Significant content changes: Making significant changes to content that is already ranking well can negatively affect its performance. When making changes to already existing content, don’t delete large chunks of text, since this will result in lost keywords. Instead, focus on adding more content to improve the quality of the overall content.
  • Auto-generated content: Avoid auto-generated content on your site. Google sees auto-generated content as an attempt to manipulate search results, and therefore, your site could easily get penalized.

Inbound Links

Also referred to as backlinks, inbound links are one of the most critical factors to high search rankings

When other sites, especially highly reputable sites, link back to your site, this tells search engines that these websites trust you, and that the content on your site is high quality and useful.

Here are some backlink-related factors that influence your search rankings:

  • Number of linking domains: The more unique sites you have linking back to your website, the more likely your site is to rank higher in search results. Actually, many SEO experts consider this to be the most important ranking factor.
The more backlinks, the higher your Google rankings
Source: The Hoth
  • Age of linking domains: Generally, links from older domains have a greater impact on your performance in search rankings compared to newer domains.
  • Linking domain authority: Links from authoritative domains carry more weight compared to links from sites with low domain authority.
  • Linking page authority: Like linking domain authority, the authority of a page that has linked back to your site also influences your site’s performance.
  • Sudden increase in the number of backlinks: If the number of backlinks to your site increase significantly within a short time, Google can take this as an indicator that the backlinks are bought. This can easily get your site penalized.
  • Links from high authority TLDs: Receiving backlinks from high authority TLDs, such as .edu and .gov sites can lead to a significant boost to your search rankings.
  • Links from competitors: Links from websites that are in direct competition with your website for search rankings have a bigger impact on your SEO performance than links from non-competing sites.
  • Links from disreputable sites: Links from spammy sites can result in your site being viewed negatively by Google. If you notice such backlinks on your site, you can use Google’s disavow function to request for these links to be removed.
  • Links from unrelated sites: Having a lot of links from sites that aren’t related to your industry or the topic you are covering can result in your site getting a manual penalty from Google.
  • Linking site TrustRank: Links from sites with high TrustRank carry more weight compared to links from sites with low TrustRank.
  • Link anchor text: The link anchor text provides signals about the relevance of a link and can have an impact on search performance. Ideally, you should aim for anchor text that is relevant to the keywords you are trying to rank for.
  • Link location: Backlinks located within the actual content of a linking page have greater impact compared to links located within the footer, sidebar, and other such locations.
  • Link location in body copy: Even for links located within the actual content of a page, links located higher within the content are treated as more important compared to those located deeper within the content.
  • Links from country-specific TLDs: Backlinks from a domain with a country-specific extension can boost your search rankings in those countries.
  • NoFollow links: Backlinks with the rel=”nofollow” tag are not followed by Google crawlers, and as a result, they don’t pass any link juice to your site. In other words, NoFollow links do not improve your performance in search rankings.
  • Quality of content on linking page: Receiving backlinks from pages with high quality content can boost your credibility and ranking, since Google treats such links as references.

Outbound Links

Outbound links are links from your site to other websites. While not as important as inbound links, they also play a role in influencing your search rankings. Some outbound link-related factors that influence your SEO include:

  • Link quality: Creating links to credible sites makes your content appear more credible as well, which can lead to better performance in search rankings.
  • Number of outbound links: Having a high number of outbound links can also improve your site’s SEO, provided that these links are relevant, and that they don’t point to spammy sites. Outbound links to spammy sites can result in your site getting penalized.
  • Link motif: Search engines also check the context of your links to determine what your web page is about and what it should rank for. For instance, if your page talks about Paris (Hilton) the socialite, but then the links on the page point to content talking about the French capital, search engines might assume your page is talking about the city.
  • Internal linking: Including internal links between various pages within your site can help boost the performance of these pages.
  • Broken links: If a high number of your outbound links are broken, Google considers this as contributor to poor user experience, and as a result, your site might be pushed further down the search results.
  • Link cloaking: Trying to misrepresent a link and directing a user to a site they didn’t expect is considered a black-hat SEO tactic and can result in your page getting penalized.
  • Widget links: Sometimes, webmasters create widgets that other people can add to their sites, with the aim of having these widgets send a link back to the owner’s site. Such widget links can easily get you penalized by Google. If you want your widgets to send links back to your site, use nofollow links.
  • Links to disreputable sites: Outbound links directing users to spammy sites can get your site penalized by Google.

White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO

In the quest to learn how to improve your site’s search rankings, you have probably come across the words white hat and black hat SEO. What do these terms mean? Which of these are you supposed to implement on your site?

White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing approaches to improving a site’s search rankings.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO refers to ethical SEO practices that follow the rules and guidelines set by search engines like Google and are focused on delivering the best possible content and experience to users.

White hat SEO tactics understand that ranking on search engines takes time, and therefore, they take a long term approach to improving a site’s search rankings.

Examples of white hat SEO practices include keyword research and optimization, creation of high quality content, natural link building, image optimization, building sites that are mobile responsive, optimizing your images, and so on.

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO, on the other hand, refers to unethical practices that are meant to help a site rank quickly on search results. These tactics do not follow the rules and guidelines set by search engines. Instead, they are aimed at manipulating search algorithms to improve a site’s rankings.

Black hat SEO is focused on doing whatever it takes to get a page to rank as quickly as possible, regardless of the impact on the site’s visitors.

Some examples of black hat SEO tactics include keyword stuffing, link buying, spamming, link cloaking, use of doorway pages, use of auto-generated content, hidden links, and so on.

If Google discovers that you are using black hat SEO tactics on your site, your site will get penalized and deindexed, which means it will never again appear in search results.

How To Use Keyword Research And Keyword Targeting To Write Content That Ranks High On Google

High quality, relevant and SEO optimized content plays a very critical role in getting a website to rank on Google. In order to create such content, you need to identify what your target audience is searching for. This is done through keyword research.

Keywords are the words and phrases that internet users use to search for specific information. For instance, someone looking for a freelance copywriter to create content for them might search for the phrase “freelance copywriter for hire.”

Similarly, someone who wants to buy a good pair of running shoes might search for the phrase “best running shoes.” These are examples of keywords.

Keyword research, therefore, is the process of identifying and analyzing the keywords that your potential customers are using to search for information related to your business or your products and services.

Keyword research provides you with insights on the best keywords to target when creating content for your site based on metrics like keyword search volume, keyword difficulty, and so on. 

It also helps you to discover the topics your potential customers are interested in learning about, which you can then use as a basis for developing your content strategy.

Why Is Keyword Research Important? 

Do you really need to perform keyword research? What if you already know the keywords you want to rank for?

Very often, beginners assume they know the right keywords they want to rank for, and they start creating content around these keywords without performing any keyword research.

The problem with this approach is that the keywords you want to rank for might not be the same keywords your potential customers are using to find information about your products and services.

For instance, let’s say that you sell t-shirts with some witty quotes printed on them. You decide that you want to rank for the keywords “cool t-shirts” and start creating content around these keywords.

However, if your potential customers are searching for “funny t-shirts,” they will never find your business, because what you are ranking for is not what they are searching for. Therefore, you might be losing out on sales opportunities simply because you ignored keyword research.

Proper keyword research helps you answer the following questions:

  • What information are your potential customers searching for?
  • What exact words are they using to search for this information?
  • How many people are searching for this information?
  • Why are they searching for this information? Are they looking for a solution to a problem? Are they comparing different products or brands? Are they looking to make a purchase?
  • In what format do they want this information presented?
  • What other related information are they looking for?
  • Where are the searchers located?

So, how do you go about performing your keyword research? 

Below, let’s go through the three-step process that we use to perform keyword research for all our blogs.

Step 1: Come Up With A List Of Seed Words

The first step of keyword research is to come up with a list of seed words that are related to your industry or what you want your business to be known for. 

You are going to use these keywords as a basis for identifying the keywords your potential customers are searching for.

For instance, if your business deals in men’s fashion, some of the words you might want to be known for include men’s shirts, men’s trousers, men’s t-shirts, men’s shoes, and so on. You can use these as the seed words that will guide your keyword research.

Another great way to come up with seed words is to use a keyword research tool like SEMrush to research your competitors and find the keywords they are ranking for.

Your top competitors have already done the work of researching the best performing keywords in your industry. Using the keywords they are already ranking for as seed words is therefore a great approach to find good long tail keywords to rank for.

To research the keywords your competitors are ranking for, start by creating a list of 10 top blogs in your industry or niche. For instance, if you are in the content marketing industry, some of the top blogs you might want to research include:

Once you have 10 top industry blogs in your list, head over to your SEMrush account. If you don’t already have an account with SEMrush, you can use this link to sign up for one and get a 30 day free trial.

After logging in to your SEMrush account, head over to Domain Analytics and click on Overview.

semrush domain overview

Enter the domain of the first blog in your list in the search field and hit search. In my case, I am going to use contentmarketinginstitute.com, since it is the first blog in my list.

SEMrush enter your domain

Hitting search will bring up a page showing various metrics. Scroll down to the Top Organic Keywords panel and click on View Details.

organic keywords in SEMrush

This will bring up another page showing all keywords for which this website ranks among the top 100 in search results. In my case, you can see that Content Marketing Institute has 71,716 keywords ranking among the top 100 in search results.

organic search positions

From these results, click on the checkboxes next to 10 keywords that are most relevant to your business and then click on Export and save these results as an Excel spreadsheet.

Repeat the process for the other 9 blogs in your list. When selecting keywords to export, make sure not to select keywords you had selected on another blog.

selecting keywords to export

By the end of this process, you should have 10 spreadsheets containing 10 seed words each. Merge them into a single spreadsheet with 100 seed words. It’s now time to move to the second step.

Step 2: Identify Long Tail Keywords From The Above Seed Words

In this step, we are going to use the seed words we came up with in step 1 to identify long tail keywords with good search volume and low competition.

Long tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that people use to search for information on search engines. Long tail keywords usually contain three words or more

Focusing on long tail keywords is a great idea because people performing such specific searches tend to be much closer to making a purchase.

To identify long tail keywords from the seed words you came up with in the previous step, head over to the Keyword Analytics tab and click on Keyword Magic Tool. Enter the first seed word in your list into the search box and hit search.

keyword magic tool

This will bring up a list showing various metrics related to the keyword. Select “Phrase Match.”

phrase match in keyword magic tool (used for content marketing)

Next, click on Advanced Filters, set 50 as the minimum search volume, and set a range of 100 – 500,000 in the Results in SERPs field. This allows you to find keywords with sufficient search volume, but without excessive competition.

keyword search volume and SERP

Click on Apply Filters and then export the results into an Excel spreadsheet containing all the long tail keywords that meet these parameters.

Once again, repeat this procedure for all the seed words you came up with in step one.

Step 3: Create Content Around These Low Competition Long Tail Keywords

Once you are done with step 2, you will have several spreadsheets containing dozens of low competition long tail keywords. Compile these spreadsheets into one master spreadsheet and sort your list from the highest to the lowest search volume.

That’s it. With these three simple steps, you will have thousands of low competition long tail keywords. If you create high quality content around these keywords, you stand a very high chance of getting your content to appear on the first page of search results for these keywords.

To start creating content around these keywords, you first need to determine the best content format for each keyword. Different keywords are better suited to different content formats.

For instance, for a long tail keyword like “how to change car tire,” content that contains video guides would work perfectly. For a long tail keyword like “what is content marketing?” on the other hand, an in-depth blog post would work better.

Some different kinds of content you might consider creating include:

  • Blog posts
  • Product pages
  • Authoritative guides
  • Infographics
  • Resource list
  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Product comparisons
  • And so on…

When it comes to creating content that ranks well on Google, optimizing the content should go hand in hand with creation. Don’t create content and then start looking for places where you can fit in your keywords.

Optimizing your content during the creation process allows you to use your keywords where they fit in naturally, without affecting the flow of your content.

Most importantly, remember to keep your content highly relevant and high quality. Keep in mind that search engines are more concerned about high quality content that answers the searcher’s questions. 

Ultimately, high content quality with just a few keywords will rank higher than low quality content that is full of the target keywords.

Critical On-Page Optimization For SEO

There are two kinds of SEO – on-page and off-page SEO. 

On-page SEO is all about influencing what search engines know about your site from the site itself, while off-page SEO is all about influencing what search engines know about your site from other sites.

Therefore, when we talk about on-page SEO, we are talking about optimization that you can make on your website and web pages to improve the site’s SERPs rankings and attract free traffic. On-page SEO consists of both the HTML source code of a page, as well as the content on the page.

On-site SEO forms the fundamentals of search optimization. It doesn’t matter how good your off-page SEO is. If your on-page features aren’t properly optimized, you will have a hard time getting your site to rank.

Below, let’s check out the most critical on-page SEO features you should optimize to boost your site’s performance in SERPs.

URL

A uniform resource locator (URL) is the unique address that drives web users to a specific web page on the internet.

URL structures

A good, SEO optimized URL should be clean and organized. It should make sense to both humans and search engines. Consider these two URLs:

  • https:///www.sitename.com/category/subcategory/topic.html
  • https://www.sitename.com/syhfw498ie0923ur3ksne0jurf.html

Which of these two URLs makes sense? Which one are you more likely to open? Which one helps search engines understand what the page is about? The first one, of course.

Here are a few ideas on how to optimize your URLs for search engines:

  • Use your target keywords in your URL. For instance, if your target keywords are video marketing, you can have a URL like www.yoursite.com/marketing/video-marketing-for-small-businesses.
  • Avoid URLs consisting of a jumbled string of numbers and letters.
  • Separate the words in your URL with hyphens to make the URL legible to humans. For instance, www.yoursite.com/video-marketing-for-small-businesses makes sense compared to www.yoursite.com/videomarketingforsmallbusinesses.

Title Tag

This is the HTML title of a specific page. However, the title tag doesn’t appear on the actual page. Instead, it is only visible in search results. 

title tags

Making sure that your title tag is optimized is important for two reasons. First, the title tag lets search engines know what a specific page is about. 

Second, the title tag is the most prominent element of a page in search results pages, and plays a critical role in encouraging users to click through to that page.

When optimizing your title tag, it is good to use the keywords you are targeting within the title

For instance, if you are targeting the keywords “video marketing,” you can have a title like “video marketing for small business” or “how to use video marketing to grow your business.”

Ideally, you should keep your title tag under 60 characters. If your title tag exceeds 60 characters, it might get truncated by Google, and therefore won’t communicate the full value of your web page to searchers.

Meta Description

Like the title tag, the meta description only appears in search results pages, but is not necessarily visible on the actual page content. 

The meta description provides a short description of what a particular web page covers. In SERPs, the meta description appears just under the title tag.

Meta description in search results

Optimizing a page’s meta description is important for the following reasons:

  • It helps search engines understand what the page covers.
  • It boosts the click-through rate for the page.
  • It affects the perception of the quality of the page.

When people perform a search, the keywords they searched for usually appear in bold in the meta description. Therefore, it is very important to include your top keywords in your meta description. At the same time, avoid stuffing keywords into your meta description.

Instead of using the same keywords multiple times within the meta description, the best approach is to use synonyms. Since search engines can still understand the context of these synonyms, this helps boost your meta description’s SEO without resorting to keyword stuffing.

Header Tags

Header tags help search engines to distinguish your headings and subheadings from the rest of the text within a page. Header tags are usually structured hierarchically from H1 all the way to H6.

There are several reasons why you should optimize your header tags. First, they help search engines to gain a better idea of the content within a page.

In addition, they break down the content within the page and make it easier and more enjoyable to read. This, in turn, will lead to more time on page and reduced bounce rate, which can help boost your performance in search results.

To optimize your header tags, include the secondary keywords you are targeting within your header tags.

You should also make sure that the header tags give the reader a good idea of what each section of your content talks about. This allows the reader to jump to the section they are interested in and ignore the sections they aren’t interested in.

Alt Tags

Including multimedia is a great way of improving the quality of your content. Multimedia, such as images and videos, breaks up your content and makes it less monotonous to read. In addition, multimedia can help you explain concepts that would have been challenging to explain using text only.

However, there is one problem when it comes to using multimedia within your content. Search engines cannot view and understand the content of the multimedia on your page.

To help search engines understand the content of your multimedia, you should ensure that all the multimedia content on your page is optimized with alt tags.

Alt tags are HTML elements that tell search engines what an image is about. Here is an example of an image alt tag from one of the blog posts on this blog.

image alt tag example for FounderJar

For instance, let’s say you have a picture of a car on your page. While search engines know that there is an image within the page, they don’t know that it is the image of a car. When people search for cars, this image cannot show up in search results.

However, when you add an alt tag that reads “red Chevrolet Corvette” to the image, Google will now understand that there is a red corvette in the image, and when people search for terms related to this, the image will now show up in search results. Alt tags are also a great place to include some of your keywords.

Aside from adding alt tags to your multimedia, you should also use descriptive file names for your multimedia. For instance, instead of saving an image as “image.jpg” you can save it as “red corvette.jpg.”

Finally, when adding multimedia content to a page, remember to compress the multimedia content to avoid slowing down the page.

Page Speed

How fast a web page loads has a huge impact on user experience, and ultimately, on your search rankings.

Search engines want to provide the best possible experience for searchers, and therefore, if your site takes too long to load, search engines will push it down further in SERPs because it doesn’t provide optimal user experience.

In addition, long load times can increase the bounce rates on your page, leading to the conclusion that the page does not provide value for visitors. Every additional second your page takes to load increases the likelihood of a visitor abandoning your page.

faster page load times mean higher search engine rankings
Source: Neil Patel

A good way to find out the load speed of your web pages is to use a tool like Google Pagespeed Insights. Aside from telling you how fast or slow a web page is, this tool also provides you with tips on how you can optimize the load speed for the page.

Some things you can do to improve load speed include:

  • Compressing the multimedia files on the page.
  • Reducing page redirects.
  • Getting rid of unnecessary code.
  • Taking advantage of browser caching.
  • Reducing time to first byte.
  • Using the right web hosting provider.
  • Getting rid of render blocking scripts.
  • Minimizing http requests

Mobile Responsiveness

With more than half of internet traffic driven by mobile devices, mobile responsiveness is no longer a luxury. It is an absolute necessity.

Search engines are now focused on making sure that they provide the best experience for mobile users, and they are therefore showing preference for sites that are mobile friendly.

Mobile friendly websites are websites that change how the information on the website is displayed to match the screen size of the device it is being viewed on.

If your site is not responsive, your site will get pushed further down the search results, pulling down with it your chances of getting found by potential customers.

You can check whether your website is mobile friendly using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool. For instance, if you run a test on this blog, you will see that it is mobile friendly.

mobile friendly test example

Optimizing these on-page elements will set the right foundational elements for your site’s SEO, from which you can now build on with off-page SEO practices like inbound links.

Link Building Strategies: How To Attract Tons of Impactful Backlinks Fast

Getting other sites to link back to your website is one of the most critical elements of SEO. You might get everything else right, but without other sites linking back to your content, you won’t be able to get your site to rank.

According to WebFX, backlinks account for about 42% of your performance in search rankings, which is greater than any other ranking factor.

why do websites rank in search engines
Source: WebFX

A few years ago, link building was quite easy. All that mattered was the number of web pages pointing back to your website. You could get links from just any website, and these backlinks would boost your performance in search rankings.

Today, things have changed significantly. Not only do you need a significant number of backlinks, but these links need to come from high quality websites with enough authority. And that’s where the problem lies.

Getting high authority websites to link back to your site is not a walk in the park. To get backlinks from high quality websites, you need to provide real value, otherwise they won’t bother linking to your site.

Fortunately, all you need to get links from high authority sites is the right approach. Below, let’s check out some amazing link building strategies that you can use to quickly attract tons of impactful backlinks.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a great way to get your name out there, reach a wider audience, and build your authority. What many do not know is that guest posting is also a great way to build links back to your site from high authority websites.

Using guest posting as a way to build links is as simple as it sounds. Simply identify some high authority websites and blogs within your niche, pitch and create great content, have the content published as a guest post on these blogs, and include a link back to your website within the content.

Most blogs will allow a guest author to include at least one link back to their website, either within the content body, or as part of the author byline.

The key to successful link building through guest blogging is to not guest blog solely for the purpose of getting a backlink. 

Don’t just slap together a quick, low quality article with the hope of having it published on another site with a link back to your site. With such an approach, you will never get an opportunity to guest post on a high quality blog.

Instead, you should focus on creating highly engaging, informative and relevant content that provides real value for that site’s readers, content that will encourage these readers to check out the other content on your site. The link back to your site should be considered a bonus, rather than the goal.

To create such content, you need to first understand the audience you are going to be writing for. This means that you need to:

  • Research and understand the profile of that blog’s audience and what they are looking for.
  • Take a look at the popular posts on the blog to understand the kind of content that performs well.
  • Research and understand the blog’s user experience.

Having a good understanding of the readers you’ll be writing for will make it a lot easier for you to create impactful content that will not only earn you a backlink, but also help to build your personal brand.

As a bonus, some of the audience who will read your guest post also have their own blogs, and if they are impressed with your content, they might link to it from their blogs, thus earning you even more backlinks.

How To Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

The good thing about using guest posting as a link building strategy is that there are numerous blogs that are actively looking for guest authors. You can easily find such blogs by using various search strings on Google.

Here’s one search string you can use to find guest posting opportunities:

Topic/keyword + intittle:”write for us”

For instance, if you are in the content marketing niche, you can search for:

Content marketing + intitle:”write for us”

This will bring up various blogs that are looking for guest authors to create content related to content marketing.

"write for us" to find guest posting opportunities

Other search strings you can use to find guest posting opportunities include:

  • Topic + inurl:write for us
  • Topic + submit an article
  • Topic + guest posts
  • Topic + become a contributor
  • Topic + intitle:guest post guidelines
  • Topic + inurl:guest post guidelines
  • Topic + contribute
  • Topic + accepting guest posts
  • Topic + become an author

Another way to find guest posting opportunities is to simply look for top blogs within your niche and pitch your guest post idea. Even if they are not actively looking for guest posts, most blogs won’t turn down the opportunity to get free, high quality content to publish on their site.

You just need to do your research first and pitch guest post ideas that are unlikely to get rejected. This means that the idea you are pitching should be:

  • Relevant to the blog’s audience
  • A new idea that is not already covered on the blog.

Resource Page Links

Resource pages are created with the sole purpose of linking to resources that the site’s audience will find useful, and therefore, it makes sense that you should use resource pages as an opportunity to earn links back to your site.

Here’s an example of a resource page on Neil Patel’s blog:

neil patel resource page example

There are two ways to earn links using resource pages. The first one is to find relevant resource pages where your website can get listed as a resource, while the second one is to create your own resource page.

Get Listed As A Resource

This approach involves finding a resource page that is relevant to your business or industry and then approaching the owner of the resource page and requesting to get added to the resource list.

For example, let’s say that you come across a resource page linking to different web pages where people can learn more about inbound marketing. At the same time, you have an in-depth guide to inbound video marketing, yet the resource page does not have any resources related to inbound video marketing.

In such an instance, you can reach out to the resource page owner and request them to add your inbound video marketing guide to their resource page. 

Since adding more resources to their list adds value to their audience, they are unlikely to reject your request, provided your guide is actually a high quality resource.

So, how do you find relevant resource pages where you can request to be added?

An easy way is to use Google. Here are some search queries you can use to find good resource pages within your industry:

  • Topic + resources
  • Topic + intitle:resources
  • Topic + inurl:links

For instance, when you search for “affiliate marketing + resources” you can see that the results show various resource pages related to affiliate marketing.

affiliate marketing resource search results

Go through each of the resource pages that come up in the results and check whether it would be worth being listed on this resource page.

If you feel that a link back from that page is worth pursuing, determine which page on your site would be most appropriate for the link. For instance, if you want your business listed as a resource, then it makes sense having a link back to your homepage.

On the other hand, if you want a specific piece of content on your website listed as a resource, then the link should point to the page that contains that specific content.

After determining the page you want the resource to link to, you can then reach out to the owner of the resource page, let them know that you found their resource page useful, and politely ask if they can add you to their resource list.

Create Your Own Resource Page

The other option for getting backlinks using resource pages is to create your own resource page and use it to earn backlinks.

This approach is also amazingly simple. First, you will need to create a comprehensive resource page that is better than other similar resource pages within your industry. You want this resource page to pack as much value as possible.

Once you publish your resource page, the next step is to run an email outreach to people whose resources you have included in your resource page.

In your email, let them know that you have created a comprehensive resource page about a particular topic, inform them that you love their product or content and that they made it to your resource list, and invite them to check out your resource page and share it with their followers if they love it.

Provided you have created a high quality resource page, a healthy number of those included in your resource page will share the resource page with their audience and include a link back to the resource page. Done well, this can earn you multiple backlinks within a short time.

The Skyscraper Method

The skyscraper method is a link building technique that was created by Backlinko founder Brian Dean. The idea behind the technique is insanely simple. It consists of three key steps:

  • Find high quality content that is already performing well and has lots of backlinks.
  • Create new content that is miles ahead.
  • Reach out to those with links to the original content and ask them to link to your content instead, which is way better.

Brian Dean named this technique the skyscraper because he compares the technique to the process of building a noteworthy skyscraper.

If you want to build a new skyscraper that will be the talk of town, your new building needs to go a couple of floors beyond the tallest existing building in town.

Similarly, with the skyscraper technique, you take the best existing content and add more value to it, so that your new content becomes the best and most valuable content on the subject – content that other sites will be glad to link to.

Below, let’s take a more detailed look at the three steps that make up this technique.

Step 1: Find Content That Is Already Performing Well

A great way to find content that is already performing well is to perform a Google search for the keyword you want to create content around.

If a piece of content is ranking on the first page of Google, this means that it is a high quality piece of content, and that it has a significant number of backlinks. However, don’t just pick the top result and get going.

Instead, you want to take all the results appearing on the first page of Google, open them, and identify which of the results cover your chosen topic in the most comprehensive way.

From there, plug the URL of each of these web pages into an SEO analysis tool like SEMrush and check the number of web pages linking back to each of these pages. After analyzing each of the search results, pick the one that covers the topic comprehensively and has a high number of backlinks.

Step 2: Create Even Better Content On The Topic

Once you have identified the content you want to improve on, it’s now time to create your new skyscraper. There are many different ways of improving and adding value to the original content to make it the best content on the topic. You could:

  • Increase the length: For instance, if the original post talks about 10 email marketing tactics, push your new content to 20 tactics.
  • Make the content fresh: Sometimes, the content on the original post might be outdated. In this case, you can improve it by updating it with new information.
  • Add depth: If you feel the content doesn’t get deep into the topic, you can create new content that goes deeper into the details. You can create content that helps the reader to know everything there is to know about the topic.
  • Eliminate discrepancies: Sometimes, the original content might have some discrepancies or information that is not accurate. You can improve on it by eliminating these discrepancies and inaccuracies.
  • Improve the design: Sometimes, it is possible to change the quality of a piece of content by improving its design. Find ways of adding visual appeal to the original content.

By the end of this step, your new content should be the best content covering that specific topic on the internet.

Step 3: Request For Links From The Right People

Now that your skyscraper content is ready, it’s now time to start reaching out to people who can link back to this content. However, don’t reach out to every blogger within your niche.

Instead, you should reach out to bloggers who have linked to the original content. This shows that they are already interested in this kind of content. By asking them to link to your new content, you are giving them a chance to add value to their readers by linking to the best content on that topic.

With these three steps, you can quickly build high authority backlinks to your site and give your site a significant SEO boost. In addition, since your content is the best on the internet, other bloggers who come across it organically might also link back to the content, thus increasing your overall backlinks.

Broken Backlinks Method

This is another easy way of attracting backlinks to your site. The idea behind this approach is very simple – If a web page contains some broken links, these links are not helping the site or its audience in any way

If you can identify such broken links, most bloggers will be happy to replace them with a link back to a relevant page on your site.

For instance, let’s say that I have a link to a resource list for bloggers. However, the resource list was pulled down without my knowledge. This provides a bad user experience for my readers, because they click on the link expecting to see a resource list, only to encounter a 404 error.

If you point out that the link is broken, and then request me to change the link to a similar resource list you have on your website, there is no reason why I should decline your request. This is a win-win situation for both of us.

To use this link building strategy, you need to do the following things:

  • Choose a link checking tool
  • Find relevant pages with lots of links
  • Check for broken links
  • Reach out to the site owner.

Choose A Link Checking Tool

Imagine going through web pages one by one and clicking on each link on the page to identify the dead links. It would take you forever to find 10 link building opportunities.

To avoid this, you need a tool that can automatically check for broken links within a page. I recommend using Check My Links or Link Miner.

Find Relevant Pages With Lots of Links

This step is based on simple statistics. The more links a page contains, the higher the chances that some of these links are dead. Therefore, by focusing on pages with lots of links, you increase your chances of finding dead links you can replace with your own.

Here, a good approach is to focus on resource pages, since they are designed to link to other sites. You can find relevant resource pages on Google using one of these search queries:

  • Topic + resources
  • Topic + intitle:resources
  • Topic + inurl:links

Check for Broken Links

It’s now time to put your link checking tool to use. For each of the pages you identified in the previous step, run your link checking tool to identify all the links that are not working.

While there is no guarantee that you will find dead links, there is a chance that some of these pages will contain dead links that can be replaced with links to your site.

This seems like a pretty slow way to find link building opportunities, right? Wrong. Let me show you where the magic happens.

Once you have identified a broken link, copy that link URL into your favorite link analysis tool, such as SEMrush, and check for other sites linking to that dead URL. 

With this step, you will identify dozens, and sometimes hundreds of websites linking to the dead resource. You have now scaled from a handful linking opportunities to hundreds of them.

Reach Out to the Site Owners

Now that you have identified multiple sites linking to dead resources, it’s now time to reach out to the owners of these websites with a request that they transfer the link back to your site.

If you already have a relevant resource, you can go ahead and reach out to the site owner, mention that you noticed they have a broken link, and then let them know that you have a high quality resource that they can link to instead.

If you don’t have relevant content, you will first need to create link worthy content before reaching out to site owners to request them to transfer the dead link to your site.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform that brings together journalists looking for sources for their stories to bloggers who want links back to their sites.

HARO is great for building high authority backlinks

Using HARO to build links to your website is pretty easy. First, you need to get on the HARO platform and sign up as a source. You have the option of using the free plan or signing up for a paid plan.

After signing up, you will need to choose categories that you want to contribute to. You also have the option of becoming a Master HARO, which means that you can contribute to all topics.

Once you are done signing up and choosing your categories, you will start receiving daily emails with questions from journalists within your chosen category.

From there, all you need to do is to find relevant questions that you can reply to and send your pitch to the journalist. If the journalist is impressed with your pitch, they will use your answer in their story and include a link back to your site.

The beauty of using HARO is that it reduces the amount of work you need to do to earn a backlink. Instead of sending cold emails to people who don’t care about you, you can easily reach out to journalists who are looking for what you have to offer, and who can offer what you are looking for.

Most Helpful SEO Tools To Grow Organic Traffic Fast

SEO can be quite a complex undertaking, and if you want to ensure success in getting your site to rank, you need the right set of tools.

With the right SEO tools, you can quickly and easily:

  • Audit your site to discover factors that could be hindering your site from ranking.
  • Get tips on how to fix these vulnerabilities.
  • Discover opportunities for attracting more traffic to your site.
  • Check what your competitors are doing so that you can improve and outperform them.
  • Get your site to rank for your target keywords.

Below, let’s check out 8 of the most helpful SEO tools you can use to grow your organic traffic fast:

GrowthBar

growthbar seo tool

GrowthBar is a powerful SEO tool that you can use to find keyword suggestions, track keywords, monitor backlinks, and so on.

One of the things I love about GrowthBar is the fact that it is an extension that runs on Chrome browser. This means that you don’t need to switch to a different tab or application in order to analyze a web page. You can do it right there on your browser.

Despite being a lightweight Chrome extension, GrowthBar comes with the same powerful set of features you would expect from a standalone SEO tool. With GrowthBar, you can…

  • View the domain authority of a site.
  • View the amount of organic traffic that a web page attracts.
  • Get keyword suggestions whenever you search for a certain keyword on Google.
  • View the difficulty score of keywords you search for on Google, as well as the difficulty score of the suggested keywords.
  • View the backlinks for the top results in Google.
  • View the top keywords a site is ranking for, both organic and paid.
  • Monitor Facebook ad campaigns, both yours and your competitors’.

The best part about GrowthBar is that it is extremely easy to use. Simply install and activate the extension on Chrome and you’ll be good to go. You can now conduct your SEO research seamlessly as you browse.

SEMrush

semrush keyword research tool

If you are looking for an all-in-one tool that you can use for all kinds of SEO-related research, SEMrush is our top recommendation.

With SEMrush, you can:

  • Perform site audits: SEMrush automatically performs an audit of your site and notifies you of any issues that might be affecting your site’s ability to perform well in search rankings. It also gives you tips on how you can fix these issues.
  • Conduct keyword research: SEMrush helps you to find high traffic, low competition keywords that you can easily rank for.
  • Conduct competitor research: With SEMrush, you can also quickly discover the keywords your competitors are ranking for, as well as how difficult it is to rank for these keywords.
  • Perform backlink audits and link building: SEMrush allows you to audit your backlinks and disavow any backlinks from low quality sites. You can also audit your competitors’ backlinks to discover link building opportunities you can take advantage of.
  • Monitor your brand: With SEMrush, you can also monitor your brand mentions, both on social media and on the web. This allows you to keep track of brand sentiment, and also helps you identify link building opportunities from unlinked brand mentions.
  • Perform domain analysis: SEMrush has an easy to use domain analysis tool that allows you to quickly get insights about any domain on the internet. Simply enter the domain in the search bar and you will receive information about the amount of traffic the site attracts, the top keywords driving traffic to the site, the number of domains linking to the site, and so on.

There’s just so much that you can do with SEMrush. This is one tool that you should definitely check out.

Ahrefs

ahrefs seo tool

This is another popular and powerful all-in-one SEO analysis tool. Whether you want to discover the right keywords to target, find out your site’s SEO status, or discover what tactics your competitors are using, Ahrefs has got your covered.

Here are some of the features you’ll find on Ahrefs:

  • Organic traffic research: This tool allows you to find the amount of traffic a site attracts, as well as the keywords the site is ranking for. You can use this to audit your site or competitors’ sites.
  • Backlink checker: If you want to find out where your competitors’ backlinks are coming from, this is the tool for you. Ahrefs maintains an index of over 14 trillion backlinks, which is the world’s biggest such index.
  • Paid traffic search: Do you want to find out if your competitors are running paid campaigns, and where they funnel the traffic from these campaigns? With Ahrefs, you can find this information with just a few clicks.
  • Keyword explorer: This tool is perfect for determining which keywords to target. With the keyword explorer tool, you can find out the monthly number of searches for a keyword, the number of clicks the keyword attracts, the CPC rate for the keyword, how difficult it is to rank for that keyword, and so on. You also get suggestions on related keywords that you should consider targeting. You also get suggestions on related keywords that you should consider targeting.
  • Content explorer: Wondering what kind of content you should create on your site? With Ahrefs content explorer tool, you can easily discover the top performing content for any topic, and access metrics about the performance of this content, such as number of social shares, organic traffic to the content, number of backlinks, and so on.
  • Site audit: Ahrefs also has an automatic SEO checker that constantly monitors your sites and lets you know if there are any issues that could potentially hurt your search rankings.

Long Tail Pro

longtailpro long tail keyword research tool

This is an SEO tool that focuses solely on keyword research, particularly when you want to find long tail keywords with significant traffic and low competition.

This is very useful considering that more and more people are using voice search to find information, which increases the likelihood of using long tail keywords when performing searches.

voice search statistics and optimization
Source: Blue Corona

When you enter your seed word into Long Tail Pro, instead of displaying all the related keywords, Long Tail Pro sorts through the results and only displays the long tail keywords that you can target and easily rank for.

Some of the key features you will find on Long Tail Pro include:

  • Ability to run multiple campaigns simultaneously. This means that if you are performing keyword research for one site, but need to quickly perform research for another site, you can create a new campaign and research keywords for the new site, without losing or interfering with the insights from the other site.
  • Built-in filtering: With Long Tail Pro, you have access to various filters that allow you to customize your search by different parameters. For instance, you could filter the search results such that you only view long tail keywords that get at least 2,000 searches every month. Alternatively, you can filter the search results such that you only get long tail keywords that contain a specific word.
  • Keyword competitiveness rating: Long Tail Pro also has an integrated keyword rating system that gives the suggested keywords a difficulty score, allowing you to determine how easy or hard it is to rank for that particular keyword. In addition, the platform also allows you to view the top websites ranking for your selected keywords. This way, you can check these web pages and determine whether it is possible for you to develop a better web page that can compete with the top ranking pages for that keyword.
  • Ad revenue potential: Long Tail Pro also shows you the potential ad revenue you can generate from the suggested keywords, thereby allowing you to target keywords that are more likely to make you money.
  • Domain name finder: Long Tail Pro also comes with a feature known as Domain Name Finder, which comes up with domain name suggestions that are highly targeted and are highly likely to attract lots of traffic and generate good ad revenue.
  • Backlink analysis: While Long Tail Pro is essentially a keyword analysis tool, it also has a backlink analysis tool that allows you to check the quality and quantity of backlinks on a web page.

Overall, Long Tail Pro is a great tool for finding the right keywords to target, both when it comes to content creation and paid campaigns.

Pitchbox

pitchbox outreach tool

Building backlinks to your website can be a very strenuous exercise. You need to reach out to other site owners and influencers, keep track of those you’ve contacted, and so on. Pitchbox is a tool that is meant to simplify all this.

With Pitchbox, you can easily find influencers, bloggers and other people who might be useful to your link building efforts, reach out to them through personalized emails, and follow up on these conversations, all within the platform.

The platform will also keep track of all the people you intend to reach out to, those you’ve already initiated contact with, and those you need to follow up with.

Here are some of the features you get with Pitchbox:

  • Blogger Outreach: Want to find relevant blogs you can reach out to for guest posting opportunities and other link building opportunities? Simply enter your keyword into Pitchbox and it will give you a list of relevant blogs that you can pitch to.
  • Backlinks analysis tool: Pitchbox has this amazing feature that allows you to find out the sites linking back to your competitors. You can then check out these sites and reach out to their owners to see if you can get backlinks from them as well.
  • Link removal: If you notice that there are some unwanted sites linking back to your site, you can use Pitchbox to get rid of these bad links without having to manually disavow the links.
  • Contact information scrapping: In addition to finding relevant sites and blogs that you can pitch to, Pitchbox also helps you find the contact information of relevant people on these sites, such as the owner or editor. This makes it a lot easier to reach out to bloggers and influencers.

Google Search Console

google search console

When looking for insights that will help your site rank on Google, it only makes sense that you turn to Google themselves for these insights. 

That’s exactly what Google Search Console allows you to do – developed by Google themselves, this tool allows you to get insights into how Google views your site.

Some of the things you can find out from Google Search Console include:

  • The keywords driving most impressions and clicks on Google.
  • The geographic location of people visiting your site.
  • The devices your visitors are accessing your site from.
  • The landing pages driving traffic to your site.

Some of the features you’ll find on Google Search Console include:

  • Site crawlability checker: For your site to appear in search results, it needs to be crawled and indexed by Google’s spiders. Sometimes, however, there might be something making it impossible for these spiders to access and crawl your site. With Google Search Console, you can easily find out whether your site is accessible to Google’s crawlers.
  • Indexing problems: Sometimes, even after your site has been crawled, there might be some issues preventing your site from getting indexed properly. Google Search Console allows you to identify these problems, provides you with tips on how to solve them, and allows you to submit your site for reindexing after you’ve fixed these problems.
  • Overview report: This report gives you a summary of your site’s performance in search rankings. You can also view the keywords and pages driving most traffic from Google search.
  • Link reporting: Google Search Console also allows you to view your link status – both for internal and external links.
  • Error detection: Google Search Console also automatically detects any errors that might be affecting your search rankings, such as broken links. This allows you to fix these errors in good time and boost your performance in search results.

Considering that it comes from Google, this is a very essential tool for anyone looking to boost their site’s SEO. With this tool, you will be able to discover and resolve SEO issues you might not have uncovered otherwise.

Moz

mozpro seo toolset

This is another impressive all-round SEO tool that allows you to do a variety of SEO related tasks, from keyword research to site audits, backlinks analysis, rank tracking, and so on.

Some of the key features you’ll find on Moz include:

  • Link Explorer: This tool allows you to explore a site’s link profile. Just plug in a domain into the link explorer and you will receive information about the number of domains linking to the site, the number of inbound links, the keywords the site is ranking for, the site’s domain authority, and so on.
  • Fresh web explorer: This tool allows you to find places where your brand has been mentioned on the web. What’s more, it allows you to find brand mentions by timeframe, which means you can filter to find brand mentions within the last one week, last one month, and so on. Once you identify places where your brand is mentioned, you can then reach out to these people for link building opportunities.
  • Keyword explorer: This is the perfect tool for identifying the right keywords to target. When you search for a keyword on Moz’s keyword explorer, you’ll get various metrics for that keyword, as well as suggestions for related keywords.
  • Explore by site: This feature allows you to plug in a competitor’s website and find the keywords that they are ranking for.
  • Site crawl tool: This feature allows you to perform an audit of your site and identify any issues that might be detrimental to your site’s SEO health, complete with suggestions on how to resolve these issues.
  • Rank tracker: This tool allows you to discover how you are faring in search rankings.

All in all, Moz is an awesome SEO tool that allows you to perform all kinds of SEO related research from one place.

UberSuggest

ubersuggest keyword research tool

This is a keyword research tool founded by renowned internet marketer Neil Patel. Whether you are trying to find out which keywords to target, discover your competitors’ SEO strategies, or come up with content ideas, UberSuggest is the tool for you.

Here are some of the key features you’ll find on UberSuggest:

  • Domain overview: This feature allows you to reverse engineer your competitors’ SEO strategies. Simply key in your competitor’s domain, and this tool will give you insights about their traffic, their top keywords, their paid ad campaigns, and so on.
  • Top SEO pages: Simply type in a keyword and this tool will provide you with data about the top performing pages for that keyword, both in terms of search rankings, as well as other metrics like social shares, and so on. This way, when creating content, you know the kind of content that is more likely to rank.
  • Keyword suggestions: Looking for keyword ideas? Simply plug in your seed word and UberSuggest will give you hundreds of keyword suggestions, complete with the most important metrics for each of these keywords.
  • Backlink data: With this tool, you can identify where other sites within your niche are getting their backlinks from. You can then reach out to these sites to see if they can link to your site as well.

Search Engine Optimization FAQ

What is SEO and how it works?

SEO or search engine optimization is the process of making enhancements to your website with the aim of getting it to appear on the first page of search results when users search for a specific keyword.

Normally, search engines depend on certain ranking factors to determine which sites should appear first in search results. SEO works by allowing you to optimize your site for these ranking factors, so that search engine algorithms consider your site to be the most relevant when people search for queries related to your site.

How long does it take for my website to rank high on Google?

Search engine optimization is more of a marathon, rather than a sprint. Generally, it will take anywhere between three to six months (sometimes even more) to get your site to appear on the first page of Google search results for a certain keyword.

The length of time it takes for your website to rank high on Google will depend on the keywords you are targeting, how competitive these keywords are, as well as the existence of issues that might be hampering your site’s SEO rankings.

What SEO ranking factors should I optimize?

There are over 200 SEO ranking factors, and ideally, you should optimize your site for all of them if you want to quickly get your site to rank high. However, some of these ranking factors are more critical than others. Here are 10 important ranking factors that you cannot afford to ignore:

– Site crawlability
– Site security
– Page load speed
– Mobile friendliness
– High quality, search optimized content
– Backlink profile
– Targeting the right keywords
– User experience
– On-page optimization (title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, alt tags, and so on.)
– Social signals.

Should I pay for backlinks?

Paying for backlinks is a very risky black hat SEO practice. Therefore, I recommend that you should NEVER PAY FOR BACKLINKS. While you can get a temporary boost in search performance by paying or backlinks, it will do you more harm than good in the long run.

Here are three reasons why paying for backlinks is not a good idea.

– First, paying for backlinks can be quite expensive. According to Ahrefs, the average cost of a bought backlink is $361.44, which is not really cheap.
– Second, whoever you are paying for a backlink is probably selling backlinks to other people as well, some of whom could be low quality, spammy sites. This means that by buying a link from such a person, you are probably going to end up with low quality links that will do more harm than good.
– Finally, if Google discovers that you have paid for backlinks, they could penalize your site or even remove it from their index. In other words, you can kiss the chances of being found via search goodbye.

What SEO tools do I need?

There are hundreds of SEO tools in the market, some of which are focused on one thing, such as keyword research or link building, and others that cover all aspects of SEO research. Based on our experience, the best overall SEO tool is SEMrush.

Whether you are looking to audit your site, perform keyword research, analyze your competitors’ strategies, perform backlink audits, or monitor your brand mentions, SEMrush allows you to do it all from a single platform. You just can’t go wrong with SEMrush.

Ready To Rank Your Website #1 On Google?

In this highly detailed guide, we have covered everything you need to know about how to get your site to rank on Google and search engines.

Here’s a recap of everything we have covered in this guide:

  • What SEO is and why it is important for your business.
  • How search engines work: crawling, indexing and ranking.
  • The different ranking factors that search engines use to rank your site.
  • How to use keyword research to create content that will rank high on Google.
  • The critical on-page ranking factors you should optimize if you want to rank high on Google.
  • Best strategies to quickly attract tons of impactful backlinks.
  • The best tools to use to boost your SEO and drive traffic to your site.

So, are you ready to get your website to rank on the first position on Google? Implement everything you have learnt in this guide and watch as your site rises to the top position on Google and attracts tons of organic traffic.

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Written by
Martin Luenendonk
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