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.

If you havent see it already, check out the links in shor's comment below - there are some great resources in there. In some cases you can also consider surveying your current audience or customers through email, on-site surveys or SurveyMonkey.  Be sure to ask for some profiling information that you can use for determining specific persona needs like age, sex, location, etc. (Probably best not to make it sound like a creepy text chat like I just did though...)  :)


Wow, brilliant strategy! I am thrilled to learn something new and effective that isn’t “black hat”. And yes, this does require work, but that’s precisely what it should require. I would rather see sites ranking high because they contribute terrific content (i.e. useful/interesting infographics) to their niche vs. the person exploiting the latest loophole. But that’s just my opinion 🙂
See the screenshot below for some of the sections for specific recommendations that you can add which will provide the meat of the document. Keep in mind this is a very flexible document – add recommendations that make sense (for example you may not always have specific design considerations for a project). Remember, it will be different every time you do it.
What if you could entrust your Twitter account to a machine? This isn’t dystopian science fiction but a reality thanks to Happy Cyborg, a fun tool that’s still in beta. Happy Cyborg assumes control of your Twitter handle and behaves as you would based on common responses to Twitter interactions. Probably not recommended for corporate accounts, but it could be ideal for busy entrepreneurs who find themselves tweeting the same stuff frequently.

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.
Your tip about CTA’s really hit the spot. I’ve been noticing that some of our competitors are using wordy yet highly specific buttons like ‘Get My Free Consultation Now!’ or ‘See Other Works From ____’. I was skeptic at first, but reading your logic behind it, it makes sense. I’m looking forward to implementing this on my own sites. Thank you, Brian.

Search engine spiders can only spider through text. They will use the content on your site to determine what your site is about, which in turn will help to decide how highly your site will be ranked for specific keyword phrases when visitors type them into the search engines. For this reason, keyword research is critical to obtaining natural search engine placement and should be at the top of your list when mapping out your SEO strategy.
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.
Of all the competitive intelligence tools we’ve looked at so far, The Search Monitor is one of the most useful. PPC marketers can use The Search Monitor to examine data on sponsored listings and PLAs across nine ad networks and 1,200 industry verticals, and also offers a ton of geotargeting and custom audience functionality. Well worth checking out.

Although this is a step-by-step series, everyone's methods will (and should) vary, so it really depends on how much time you think it will take (if you're billing hourly).  What tools do you have at your disposal vs. how much researching for information will you have to do on your own? Will you have to pay for research reports or companies? Do you pay a monthly service for data or research?
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. 

Building a robots.txt file can be confusing, and there are many online SEO tools that don't make the job much easier. You want to make sure that when search engines crawl your site, they don't have access to sensitive files, but they do have access to others. User our free Robots.txt Generator Tool to build or modify your robots.txt file, and get a look at how your current robots.txt file will work versus your new one.
One of the biggest challenges in lead generation campaigns is learning enough about your leads to qualify them. Convertable makes this easier, offering much more data than traditional forms allow, providing you with data on everything from the browser they used and their operating system to the traffic source and the keywords they entered, as you can see in the screenshot below:
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.
Use your mouse to resize your browser and see what your browser size is. The numbers located inside of the box will tell you how many pixels your browser is. Knowing your browser size will allow you to set up your site so that it can be viewed on different sizes of monitors while still displaying all of the important information you wish to convey to visitors.
Calculating the CTR of two different ads is easy – predicting how they’ll perform over the long term is much harder without running a lengthy A/B test. Perry Marshall's SplitTester tool allows you to enter numerical CTR data to predict the ongoing performance of the two ads. Great for estimating statistical significance if you don’t have enough time for a full A/B test.
Nice work Laura! This is going to be a great series. I'm working my way through SEOmoz's Advanced SEO Training Series (videos) Vol. 1 & 2 to build upon the advice and guidance that you and your team provided to me during my time at Yahoo!. Now many others will benefit from your knowledge, experience and passion for SEO strategy and tactics. Best wishes for great success in your new role.
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.
I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.

Of all the competitive intelligence tools we’ve looked at so far, The Search Monitor is one of the most useful. PPC marketers can use The Search Monitor to examine data on sponsored listings and PLAs across nine ad networks and 1,200 industry verticals, and also offers a ton of geotargeting and custom audience functionality. Well worth checking out.
Although this is a step-by-step series, everyone's methods will (and should) vary, so it really depends on how much time you think it will take (if you're billing hourly).  What tools do you have at your disposal vs. how much researching for information will you have to do on your own? Will you have to pay for research reports or companies? Do you pay a monthly service for data or research?
On the other hand, I'd like to know how many people constitutes your new experience as an indipedent consultant? Infact, as others noted in the comments here, what you suggest is perfect especially for an in-house SEO situation or in for an Web Marketing Agency with at least 5/8 people working in. Even if all you say is correct and hopefully what everybodies should do, I honestly find quite difficult to dedicate all the amount of time and dedication in order to check all the steps described in your post. Or, at least, I cannot imagine myself doing it for all the clients.

Sure, we did keyword research, we recommended partnerships and widgets and architecture advice, but we didn’t step back and take a good look at our target audiences, what sites were meeting their specific needs in search results, and what we specifically could build into the product that would be far more desirable than what everyone else had (not even thought of yet ideally) to make sure our entire site is superior, resulting in the inevitable stealing of search traffic from our competitors.
Each organic search engine ranking places emphasis on variable factors such as the design and layout, keyword density and the number of relevant sites linking to it. Search engines constantly update and refine their ranking algorithms in order to index the most relevant sites. Other variables that have an impact on search engine placement include the following:

Think of it this way: The more specific your content, the more specific the needs of your audience are -- and the more likely you'll convert this traffic into leads. This is how Google finds value in the websites it crawls; the pages that dig into the interworkings of a general topic are seen as the best answer to a person's query, and will rank higher.


Search engine spiders can only spider through text. They will use the content on your site to determine what your site is about, which in turn will help to decide how highly your site will be ranked for specific keyword phrases when visitors type them into the search engines. For this reason, keyword research is critical to obtaining natural search engine placement and should be at the top of your list when mapping out your SEO strategy.
Your tip about CTA’s really hit the spot. I’ve been noticing that some of our competitors are using wordy yet highly specific buttons like ‘Get My Free Consultation Now!’ or ‘See Other Works From ____’. I was skeptic at first, but reading your logic behind it, it makes sense. I’m looking forward to implementing this on my own sites. Thank you, Brian.

For example, we regularly create content on the topic of "SEO," but it's still very difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic on this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword -- and potentially the same search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you're reading right now), and other subtopics within SEO.

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. 
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