Like many SEOs, I was hired with one vague responsibility: to set up an SEO program and achieve results. Like many SEOs, we jumped right in and started spewing out SEO audits, rewriting title tags, offering up backlink suggestions, rewriting URLs and so on. And like many SEOs we promised results. But what we didn’t do, until that fateful launch, was develop a comprehensive strategy.
Ever since I first time heard that you can get free traffic from a thing called Google, I wanted that. But, I had no idea where to start. And what was even worse, every “great” tip I’d receive from an “experts” was a complete BS that only sounds nice, but could never be used by real businesses. Most of those things are considered black-hat now. That’s how “great” those tips were.
I consulted a few years ago before Yahoo and CNET and my clients were all small businesses, even friends' sites.  No matter the size of the project, you can still try to get some insight into your target audiences and what they need or want.  I mentioned in a previous comment I used Search once to determine sentiment on a site vs. it's competitors by searching for a feature the site and its competitors all had, along with "like", "love", "hate", "wish", etc.  I also took note of who the people were who said those things and where they were talking (forums, twitter, etc).  It's a hacked manual approach and although not nearly as quality as a good market research report, at least I have a llittle bit of insight before going out to make site recommendations based solely on tags & links.  If you're recommending the site build things that people want (and fix or remove things that they dont), you're more likely to gain links and traffic naturally.
When I think about the brands I like best, like J. Crew, Spotify, and SoulCycle, I know I’m not a loyal brand advocate because of their products alone. I can get cheaper clothes, music, and groceries from plenty of other places. Ultimately, I’m a brand advocate because I believe in what they promote and I feel invested in their stories, like SoulCycle’s: “We aspire to inspire. We inhale intention and exhale expectation.” I relate to their brand messaging.

This plugin will let you easily link to your old articles, pages, or other sites to improve their rankings in search engines and generate more clicks. The internal link building plugin lets you assign keywords to given destination URLs. This way, your website will link within itself like it's done in Wikipedia - every time a keyword occurs, it links to the page you specified in the plugin dashboard.
Great article, Brian. Like that you’re finally talking about Domain Authority (DA). It’s essential to make skyscraper technique work as well. Also, a great pointer on comments as I have personally seen articles perform well because of comments. Do you recommend closing the comments as well a few days after the article is published? Kinda like Copyblogger does now.
Laura,Great post.  This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients.  The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series.  I look forward to more!
Figuring out when your visitor is ready to convert depends on your website viewers’ behavior, so you’ll want to conduct A/B testing to determine where you need to place your CTA. Does it work best towards the bottom of a blog page, when it slides out to the right, or does it get higher conversions at the beginning of the page, sliding out from the left?
I recently come across a case study where a newly found business was able to climb up high in search results without building links. Their strategy was to create a buzz for their main business term across social media platforms and they made people talk about it as well as visit their respective pages. In 2019, Do we have to look at various means through which we can improve our rankings without building links? What are your thoughts? I am sure Rank Brain also listen to what people talk about a brand or business than just identifying it through backlinks.
Take the 10 pillar topics you came up with in Step 1 and create a web page for each one that outlines the topic at a high level -- using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in Step 2. A pillar page on SEO, for example, can describe SEO in brief sections that introduce keyword research, image optimization, SEO strategy, and other subtopics as they are identified. Think of each pillar page as a table of contents, where you're briefing your readers on subtopics you'll elaborate on in blog posts.

Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 
Your blog provides a great way to build a personal relationship with customers and prospects — and to gather their email addresses. Consistently end blogs with a call to action that encourages readers to sign up for your email messages. Require blog visitors to provide an email list in order to leave comments, and set it up so that they have to actively opt out if they don’t want their email address included on your mailing list.
You mentioned: "many times clients have already done this work.  Ask them for copies of their market research reports when you start a project.  It will save you a ton of time and effort!"  We do this with most of our clients, like you said we have found that around 75% of the have some kind of Market research done, that saves you a lot of time and helps setting up the right SEO Strategy. 
He is the co-founder of NP Digital and Subscribers. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.
Thanks for your 2019 tips. As a startup business I’m researching heavily on all SEO matters and you’re giving me the confidence to succeed. Just one question if I may. I’m creating a platform that will have 50,000 pages… As it’s practically impossible to create backlinks to all individual pages, do backlinks count from the domain, for example blog posts. Thanks, Matt
I recently come across a case study where a newly found business was able to climb up high in search results without building links. Their strategy was to create a buzz for their main business term across social media platforms and they made people talk about it as well as visit their respective pages. In 2019, Do we have to look at various means through which we can improve our rankings without building links? What are your thoughts? I am sure Rank Brain also listen to what people talk about a brand or business than just identifying it through backlinks.
This is honestly more than a post, Brian: it’s a treasure. I have already bookmarked it! The backlinks work pretty well for me: I started a travel blog 90 days ago and I’m glad that I could reach a DA of 12. I think that I’m gonna try the (shall I call it like this since I have a travel blog?) “Off the beaten path keyword” next. I already have an idea after reading your article, so I ‘ll try to write about it and implement ypur techniques.

One thing we hear time and again about our own tools is how valuable the benchmark performance data is, and that’s one area where AdGooroo shines. As well as the usual ad spend estimate modeling and other tools, AdGooroo also lets you look at snapshots of specific brands in your vertical – very interesting if you’re looking to adjust your PPC strategy.
Thanks for your 2019 tips. As a startup business I’m researching heavily on all SEO matters and you’re giving me the confidence to succeed. Just one question if I may. I’m creating a platform that will have 50,000 pages… As it’s practically impossible to create backlinks to all individual pages, do backlinks count from the domain, for example blog posts. Thanks, Matt
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