Never forget anything about SEO again
Via : leapfroggr.com
Research is arguably the most boring part of SEO for many, but I personally love it. You have to embrace the research part to get a feel of what you are up against and what you will be doing.
Your whole SEO strategy will depend on your depth of understanding so DO NOT ever skip the research phase.
Market research gives you a feel of the whole landscape.
Chances are, you will be working on a more specific website. By doing market research, you open your mind to what’s out there, what they are doing, what’s working for them and so on.
It’s time to niche it down. Who are you going up against directly? What’s the overall state of the niche when it comes to SEO? What types of results is Google showing you when you search? Local? Maps? Mostly Yelp? Video dominates? Are news sites being shown?
Knowing these will help you prioritize what you need to do to get visibility as soon as possible.
Who are your direct competitors? What are they doing? How aggro are they?
Compile your direct competitors. Search using the keywords you are targeting on Google and list down all your competitors.
Compile their link profiles, identify which site is getting the most links, note down the link types they have and what their audiences are sharing.
Now that you have done your competitor research, you can use the data for this phase.
You’ll be able to see the keywords they are ranking for based on the anchor text from their links and you can use tools like SEMRush to find out what other keywords they are ranking for or bidding for.
Compile those keywords and add your target keywords into a list.
Whip out Google’s Keyword Planner, paste the keywords in and watch the magic happen.
You’ll get a ton of suggestions you would have never thought of in the first place.
Now, it’s time to start compiling the data you’ve researched and gather some actual stats about your website.
Compile the initial keywords and backlinks you’ve acquired from the research you’ve done above. Put them into organized lists.
You also need to answer things like: What’s the current status of your website vs your competitors? How optimized are their websites? How many links do they have now?
You need to activate Google Analytics so you can get data about the site you are working on.
You need to crawl the site you are working so you can have the data by the time you get to the on-page SEO phase.
We love today’s version of Google Webmaster Tools. You can get a ton of data simply by using this.
Grab all the data you can and fix them now or until you get to the on-page SEO phase.
Bonus: You might also want to submit your site to Bing’s Webmaster Center. Just for the sake of it. Just do it.
This often gets the most criticism from die-hard link builders but nowadays, a lot of them have come to accept on-page SEO as a major part of the overall SEO process.
Today, a lot of pages can rank purely from relevance and good on-page SEO work so never neglect it.
For those that are new to SEO, you might not be aware of some of these.
These are best practices that you must apply early on and throughout the life of your website.
The following items are very basic so if you have questions about any of these, please feel free to ask in the comments area.
Start with these:
Now it’s time to check your site’s existing content.
For many of you, you will be thrown into a project for big website that’s pretty messed up, with content that has been built over the years.
Do not be afraid to change the content if it will improve it and do not hesitate to cull those worthless pages.
The performance of your website is IMPORTANT, especially in today’s SEO landscape.
Though the Mobilegeddon update has been underwhelming so far, it will become more important as time goes by so fix your website today.
Your URL structure can be easily neglected but it can have a good impact on your rankings and even user re-call.
The best practice is to keep it as short as possible, aim for below 100 characters.
Less than 30% of the websites out there actually use it. Take advantage of that. Schema is here to stay. It doesn’t mean that it’s useless because Google Authorship is dead.
Though its direct impact to SEO is still not actually “proven” in a concrete way, it’s indirect effects are actually very obvious.
Whatever you believe, like I always say, optimize everything and you will succeed in SEO.
I highly recommend that you check out SEOGadget’s (ok, BuiltVisible, I miss the name…) guide on schema over here.
Clearly the most popular part of SEO is your off-page work, more commonly referred to as link building. It is where you want to spend the bulk of your time besides planning and creating your content.
Some of the strategies below are old-school, some are new and some are really niche specific.
The reason you’d want to do this is that you want to know immediately when someone mentions your brand (and any other relevant keywords) anywhere in the Internet.
This allows you to track your reviews, negative press, blog mentions, forum questions and more! You’ll have the chance to get a backlinks by jumping in early and you also get to build better brand loyalty by showing that you care enough to respond to their posts or issues.
If you are working on an established site, then chances are, there will be a ton of unlinked mentions out there for you to take.
Tip: There are a lot of ways but start with the simplest method by using Google
Brand -Brand.com tweet
Find your competitors, look around vertically and horizontally in your niche and category.
Compile them and check their links. Then go out and get those links. They got it, why can’t you?
Search for your target keywords and find those direct-ranking competitors. Chances are, you won’t see a lot of them during your competitor research phase.
Now compile these sites and check their backlinks.
Basically, you want to find the links that already link to your competitors.
Why? There’s a higher chance that you can get those links quickly.
You can use Excel after you export your competitor backlinks to see which domains link to them but for those rare SEO’s that don’t really like spreadsheets (like me) – then CognitiveSEO has a tool for it, so does Link Research Tools and as well as Moz.
Create your social properties and make sure to put a link back to your website.
If you can’t use them yet, then treat it mainly for branding purposes and to reserve the name when the time comes that you might actually need them.
Broken link building is basically a strategy to start a conversation with a webmaster.
You give them something and they might eventually do you a favour. That’s the basic idea.
Knowing that, you can get creative with it and who better to explain it than Jon Cooper?
Richard Marriott over at Clambr also put up an awesome tutorial.
Join or ask to get invited on Pinterest Group Boards. PinGroupie is a good place to start.
True, Pinterest links are no-follow for the most part but Pinterest can bring you tons of traffic and visibility.
You will get links that you would never get by doing normal link prospecting. You can even take it a step further and check the people that shared your pin and reach out to them. You can message with people directly in Pinterest now, just in case you haven’t been using it lately.
Expert roundups are a dime a dozen nowadays and they are getting bigger and bigger each day just to stand out and squeeze out the most social shares.
You don’t have to join all of them but you should join some of them.
For the most part, these are on blogs with their own readership, so it’s a chance for you to get your brand out there and eventually pull in more links.
Oh, you can also be the one to do expert roundups and offer that as part of your outreach. Lots of people will link to it if you use a proper angle for the roundup.
Guest posting is not dead. They should rephrase that.
It’s more like guest posting on blatantly fake blog networks is almost dead.
People keep complaining about it but it really isn’t dead. In fact, it’s more important and more precious now than ever.
Find the right sites, build the right connections and create great content for their audience without over-using anchor text.
Blog comment links are mostly no-follow. The real value is in the relationships that are formed.
I’ve met a ton of people simply by doing guest commenting and I got connected with new people that eventually linked to me because I took a bit of my spare time to build these relationships.
Some relationships are started through email, some are started by joining local networking events and some can be started simply by blog commenting.
Sounds funny, but there are many quote directories out there that can be used for links.
Since we are talking about directories, go ahead and look for blog directories, startup directories and niche specific directories. The links can be acquired easily and for the most part, free.
If you are running a pet website, then you can find sites that offer awards both locally and internationally. Run a service business? There are plenty of business awards you can join. If you run a blog, go out and find sites that offer blog awards. Run a podcast? There are awards for that, too.
In many cases, being nominated can get you a link already… but do try to win so you can show off the award and get other perks.
Consider this as a way for you to get your brand out there. It’s also a way to get targeted traffic and acquire loyal readers.
So where does the SEO part come in? You can find sites that would allow you to publish content exclusively for their subscribers. It’s like guest posting but only through an exclusive list of people.
You can also get on newsletter publishers that publish recommended content each month. Many of their subscribers use the newsletter content when publishing their monthly or weekly link roundups on their own blogs. That’s where your link is going to come from!
As a side benefit, believe it or not, some people will copy the newsletter content directly and paste it on their site.
Confused? These are also known as .gov and .edu links.
I could talk about hacking their sites, I could talk about manipulating their Moodle platforms and others but…this is sort of a white-hat blog.
The traditional way is to get on their resource page. You can also offer work to them in exchange for a link. One of my older tricks is to track down the student editor and give him beer money.
The .Gov sites will sometimes have forums that give do-follow links. Sometimes you can be a supplier to a project or event depending on your niche. It can open lots of doors for you if you do it the right way.
Local CoC websites are plenty but the rules are different for each one.
In most cases, it’s pretty easy to get links from them. Just ask what you want do for them or what their requirements are.
New bloggers are going to look for mentors. They look for people that are already where they want to be. They will ask questions and they will need guidance.
If you have people following you or somebody emails you, do not hesitate to help them out. Relationships built out this way can net you links you will never really get by simply doing prospecting.
Also, when building out your prospecting list, you will encounter new blogs. Do not hesitate to reach out to them. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have readers and it doesn’t mean that the link you’ll get is worthless since they are a PR-0 site.
Often, these bloggers have really die-hard followers that jump on any recommendation they make and these followers are usually bloggers too. Imagine the extra links you’ll get.
Oh, and in time, the link you get will become more important as they become more important in the space.
Podcasting is BIG right now and 99% of the time, these podcasters have their own blogs so they can put the show notes there. You don’t have to even start your own podcast.
The idea here is to get on those podcasts. That’s a 100% sure, high quality link.
Curating platforms like Scoop.it can share your content out and link back to you. In many cases, these are no-follow links but they have users of their own. Plus these users that curate have blogs. The things they curate get sent to their blogs and their readers get to find your content because of their referral.
My personal favourite is Flipboard. It has brought me a ton of traffic already and readers actually do stick around.
I only just started with LinkedIN Pulse but it’s pretty good so far.
The reason isn’t really for the link, but for the brand visibility. You can assume that the people that follow you and see your work on LinkedIN already have their own social presence online. They might also have blogs.
With my few articles so far, I have gotten some new links because they found my site from my LinkedIN posts.
Plus, you can republish your content on LinkedIN Pulse so it’s not really duplicate content. I don’t do this but a lot of other people do. Maybe you should try it out.
I consider the top tier publishing sites here, such as Entrepreneur, HuffPo, BusinessInsider and more. Depending on your niche, you will find other really big publishers so make sure to get on them.
I also consider the viral sites, like Buzzfeed, under this category. The normal way to get on these sites is to write on their backend and try hard to get your work on the main site. If not, then it won’t really be indexed.
If you want to be creative, my favorite tactic to get on these viral sites is to start from the smaller blogs and work my way up. I spread news or rumors on smaller blogs that I know these viral sites take news from. Once it’s picked up, you push it again on the next level and things will again, snowball from there.
If you look at the StumbleUpon idea, it can look so Web1.0 but it can still bring in good traffic. Their Ad platform is also good if you plan it out right and know how to get it to catch on. Once it does, it will snowball. You’ll get links, one way or another. One of the people I’ve been following since forever is Ross Hudgens. They put out this cool guide about SU that you can check out here.
As for Reddit, it is only getting hotter so people can say whatever they want about how worthless it is for SEO but for me, Reddit has brought my sites tons of traffic and netted me links from hardcore, badass sites. Ain’t too shabby. Plus, it can do this…thanks for the spot Dan.
People will steal your images. Steal? Sounds harsh. Well, sometimes bloggers just grab it off Google images. It’s a completely innocent thing to do so I understand.
Good thing we know SEO! That practically means a free link in my eyes.
Use Google’s image search and upload a photo. It’ll show you places where the image was used. You can also use Tineye to do this.
Oh, infographic promotion can fall under this as well.
If you do speaking gigs, present to your company or other groups, then you probably have a collection of slide decks. Simply use sites like Slideshare and share your content there!
Do you create blog posts? Repurpose your blog content into slides!
Need more Slideshare tips and tricks? Then get it from no other but the queen herself, Ana Hoffman from TGC.
Note: You can also submit PDF’s to Slideshare but there are also places to submit PDF’s so you can share your book or whitepaper to the world.
Local ones will tend to be easier to get featured on to but bigger, global news sites are still possible. It will just take a bit more work and patience.
What I do is to find the editor or a connection to the editor. Once I get introduced, it’s easy to submit a piece and get a piece published.
Joining HARO, which will be mentioned shortly, can also help you get on some of these sites.
Resource pages is one of the oldest plays in the book and it’s still one of my favorites.
Why? Competitors neglect them and I don’t have to worry about content. Easy, relevant links. Boom.
Help A Reporter Out aka HARO is one of the best ways to get free press.
You get emails with different topics. You reply to the reporter and send an expert direct-to-the-point answer.
Here’s a tip: Use your mail to filter out the daily emails to find relevant phrases or words so you don’t have to check each one.
Besides HARO type sites, there are hashtags out there that are used by journalists. It’s a way for them to get stories and participants. You can tweet out your topic with the hashtag or just monitor it.
Again, much like HARO, you need to pick your spots and be patient with this. Once it works for you, it’s gold.
You basically write about something controversial, something timely, something that’s not the norm. Put it out in front of the right people and BAM! You get links!
This is old school but still effective today, especially for certain niches today.
You create a gimmick badge, you share it to the community with a link back to you to show their support or to brag about their level in the community.
It’s sort of like those blog directories that want you to put their link on your site first to confirm your ownership. Then you forget to remove the badge and you just gave them a free link. 🙂
This is simple yet highly neglected.
By doing a simple backlink check on your own social profiles, you can dig out some pretty easy links.
To take this a step further, compile your competitor’s social accounts and check their links.
If you use a service or bought a course or maybe you are a member of a group/newsletter, then you can try to share your learnings, testimonials and results to the owner.
If you are purely in this for the link, which I know you are, then make sure the site you are contacting has a testimonial area.
For a more extensive process, Bryan Harris, THE poster boy, explains this like no other.
I mentioned it briefly here but I have talked about this on the newsletter pretty extensively in the past.
You basically find crowd funding projects that offer a link from their websites. You support them and get the link when they go live.
There are tons of charities you can support. Look around your local area and find those with websites.
Of course, you need to be aligned with their vision. >_>
Q&A sites are mostly no-follow links but they bring in relevant traffic. They also rank pretty well and can get you spots in Google’s results.
That way, you can get more visibility, new users and eventually, new links.
Forum links are not dead. They are still really nice and they still bring in targeted traffic.
You just need to look for relevant forums and jump into the conversation… or you can manufacture a way to start a conversation and jump in later to pitch your link. 🙂
Google removed my fav filter, which is “discussions” so just for you, here’s my secret. This nifty Chrome plugin.
Note: Just don’t go out there buying mass forum signature and profile links.
I love this technique because I can sort of see how someone I look up to got to where he is today.
I could see how hard they worked, how they did it, the creativity they showed and more!
I could then do something similar and set myself apart from what he already did.
This is mainly for e-commerce websites where you have suppliers that have sites. Just ask for those links.
If you are a business or a blog and have someone you work with that has a site, then you can also ask for a link from them. Easy, high quality links are always welcome.
As mentioned in my previous post, my go-to strategy when it comes to link building is simply just doing better content than what’s already working out there and get all their links!
It basically means that people are interested and you can get those links.
Brian Dean calls this the Skyscraper Technique so if you want to learn more about this, check out his blog post!
Comment scouting is a way for me to simply get ideas from the comments area (be it in my own blog or another blog) and create content for whatever the need I see there.
Then you contact the commenters and commenters on other blog posts with a similar topic.
Category pages on a website are probably the hardest pages to get links for. E-commerce sites will benefit from getting links to these pages greatly so one way of getting links is by creating separate websites.
Cultivate them, get them links and then 301 those domains to your main category. #WIN
Since you read all the way here, here are a few bonus strategies that aren’t in the infographic!
Volunteer to speak in front of an organization or a conference. That’s almost a guaranteed link.
Does the conference have sponsors? They probably mentioned the conference on their website as well. Ask for a link back to your site!
Let’s say you are working on a celebrity’s site, then get a link from her agency’s site. Get links from her sponsors and magazines that mention her.
Are you getting paid to show off products? Get links from your sponsor’s website!
There are certainly different ways to get WikiPedia links. Knowing a moderator, sheer luck or WikiGrabber.
Use it and find a way to get a link. Don’t forget your etiquette.
Lastly, infographic promotion. Submit it to directories, reach out to sites that already publish infographic posts or sites that can be granted exclusivity.
It’s really a versatile way to build links so you can get really creative with it.
BTW, if you liked this infographic, please use our embed code that you saw at the bottom of the infographic.
Tell us about it and we’ll help you promote it. We’ll even write a unique intro for you!
Once you get to this point, it’s basically icing on the cake. Most of these are things that can’t be qualified under the categories above.
Some are minor, some are really vital once you start ranking and some are just for maintenance.
I had to start it off with this.
When it comes to discussing social media’s direct effect to SEO, it will almost always be controversial. No matter what people say, social media is a part of our online and offline brands moving forward.
For me, social media does not have a direct effect, but a more indirect one. Actually, there are plenty of indirect ones!
The point of this being included here in the checklist is that you need to make sure that your website is set up properly and linked to your brand’s official social platforms.
CRO, which is an art on it’s own, does have processes that affect your overall SEO. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to convert more of your existing visitors.
Some of the things you need to do are:
Sound familiar? They should be.
The knowledge graph is still a mystery for many. If your brand is still not an entity within the Knowledge Graph, then you need to start taking some steps to include yourself there.
Rank tracking is not as talked about as it used to be but if you are serious about your SEO work, then it’s still a must.
The Google Webmaster Tools data you get about your rankings are simply an average of where you place.
If you want more accurate data, be it local or country specific, then you need to track it yourself, be it using software (we use Rank Tracker and Advanced Web Ranking) or one of the many cloud hosted rank tracking tools out there.
Just to throw it in here: I get this question a lot. Does it hurt your ranking if you keep checking the rankings daily? I haven’t seen any evidence of it as I track things pretty aggressively.
Let’s start by mentioning that you need to claim your brand’s identity everywhere. It will save you a ton of time and headaches in the future when the brand you are working on is big enough.
You also need to monitor mentions about your brands either to stop negative things from escalating or get links.
So, can online reputation management be a part of SEO? Definitely.
Your server will need to be tweaked regularly. Especially as you grow your traffic more and more.
The last thing you want is a slow site or a site that is down for long periods of time.
Things can get misconfigured, it’s just the way it is so doing regular checks are important.
You can do more besides traditional link building.
You can build up your brands on different ecosystems that are also crawled by Google.
From YouTube, to Apple and even Amazon. These are all major search engines on their own and building your brand within them can add to your SEO… and they take up space in Google’s results so that’s another bonus for you.
Google’s guidelines will keep on changing. It’s just the nature of the game.
If you don’t monitor SEO news regularly, make it a point to pick your favorite SEO websites and subscribe to their newsletter (like ours) or RSS feed. Schedule a time in the month to do quick reading sessions to keep yourself up to date.
As you publish more and more content, things can get lost in the shuffle.
Maybe you don’t have a system in place yet for other authors that publish within your site. Maybe you are just forgetful when it comes to SEO and just want to focus on creating content.
Doing a regular on-page SEO checkup will only help you in the long run so don’t overlook this.
Screaming Frog is our favorite but Google Webmaster Tools can also give you some good data.
This is probably the most ignored thing EVER. I cannot stress the importance of this especially if you are already working on a popular site or a competitive market.
Things can go wrong rather quickly (penalty/de-indexed) or it can be the reason why your site is being held back from improving in the rankings.
Checking your link profile regularly will help you see what’s wrong. Maybe you are over using your anchor text, maybe somebody is sending you spammy links or maybe you just aren’t doing enough.
I would suggest using Ahrefs.com and even Google Webmaster Tools when doing link profile checks.