201 Powerful SEO Tips (That Actually Work)

This is the largest collection of SEO tips on the planet.
The best part?
All of the SEO techniques in this guide are 100% actionable.
So if you want higher rankings, check out the new guide.
Cool Bonus: Download a free PDF version of this guide. The PDF version contains all the tips, links and resources found here…plus 11 exclusive bonus techniques that you’ll only find in the PDF.
I want tips that help with:

  1. On-Page SEO
  2. Link Building
  3. Keyword Research
  4. Technical SEO
  5. Video SEO
  6. User Experience
I want tips that are:

  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced
Show only Brian's favorite tips:

  1. Yes
  2. No


Add LSI Keywords to Your Content

On-Page SEOAdvancedYes
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are a fancy way of saying: “synonyms and closely-related terms”.
And when you include these in your content you help Google understand what your page is all about. You can find LSI keywords at the bottom of the SERPs:
searches related to screenshot

Add Text Content To Infographic-Based Blog Posts

On-Page SEOIntermediate
Yes, infographics are an awesome way to generate social shares and backlinks. But they have one big problem:
Google can’t read ’em!
That’s why I always add plenty of text underneath my infographics. That way Google can understand what your page (and infographic) is all about.
putting text below an infographic

Create Unique Titles for Each Page (Seriously)

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediate
Boilerplate and duplicate titles.
These are HUGE mistakes that sites with lots of pages make (I’m looking at you ecommerce sites 🙂 ).
And it’s something that Google has come right out and said: “Don’t do it dude!”
google search console help guidelines
I know it’s a huge pain to write unique title tags for each and every page. But it’s super important.

Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags

On-Page SEO, Keyword ResearchAdvanced
Let’s say you’re gunning for the keyword: “red shoes”. You COULD simply optimize your title tag around the keyword “red shoes”.
But it’s smarter to embed a long tail keyword into your title tag.
(For example, you could optimize your title tag around “best red shoes” or “cheap red shoes”).
That way, you can quickly rank for the long tail keyword “best red shoes”. And over time you can ALSO rank for your main target keyword, “red shoes”.

Experiment With Using ONLY Your Keyword in Your URL

On-Page SEOIntermediateYes
A few years ago I had an idea:
I knew that short, keyword-rich URLs were best for SEO.
And then I thought: “why not make my URL the exact keyword that I want to rank for?”.
And it worked! That’s why today I (mostly) use URLs like: example.com/my-exact-keyword
Obviously, if you keyword stuff, these URLs can lead to over-optimization. But when combined with moderate on-page SEO, I’ve found that keyword-only URLs help.

Focus On Insanely Actionable Content

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
In my experience, practical content CRUSHES opinion pieces and clickbait. And several studies have found the same thing.
It boils down to sharing. People are more likely to share (and therefore link to) super-practical content.

Forget Keyword Density. Focus on Keyword Frequency

On-Page SEOBeginner
It’s unlikely that Google uses keyword density as a ranking factor.
But there is no doubt in my mind that they look at the number of times a keyword appears on your page.
(Known as “Keyword Frequency”).
Think about it:
Imagine if page A contained the keyword “oatmeal cookies” only once.
And page B contained that same keyword 7 times. Which page would you think is more likely to be about “oatmeal cookies”? Thought so.
Bottom line: Use your target keyword at least a few times in the body of your article.

Have a Privacy Policy and Terms Page

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
This may or may not be a direct Google ranking factor.
That said, easy-to-find privacy policy and terms pages help your site stand out from shady affiliate sites that don’t usually have these pages. Plus, users are used to seeing these pages on “real” sites. And if you don’t have them it’s possible that people won’t consider your site legit.

Include Keyword Synonyms in H1 and H2 Tags

On-Page SEOIntermediate
I usually use my exact keyword in my page’s H1 and  H2 tag. But if I feel that the page is over-optimized, I’ll replace the exact keyword with a synonym instead.
So if my target keyword was “Low Carb Desserts” I’d use a term like “Sugar-Free Desserts” in an H1 or H2 tag.

Keep Your Title Tag Under (Approximately) 60 Characters

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOBeginner
Google used to limit title tag length based on the number of characters it contained.
Today? They use pixels (the current limit is 512 pixels).
Because counting pixels is a pain, I just count characters. And I’ve found that staying under 60 characters keeps me under the pixel limit 99% of the time.

Make Social Sharing Buttons Super-Easy to Find

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given up on sharing a piece of content because I had trouble finding the share buttons.
That’s why I use social sharing buttons that follow you down the page:
floating social share buttons
That way, my post is ready to be shared whenever the mood strikes you.

Optimize E-commerce Product Pages Like Blog Posts

On-Page SEO, Keyword ResearchIntermediate
For example, include your target keyword a few times. Use LSI keywords. And when it makes sense, publish 1000+ word product descriptions. For more info on optimizing ecommerce product pages, check out this guide.

Optimize Your Homepage For Conversions (And Your Brand Name)

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
Yes, your homepage usually has a ton of authority.
But in general, homepages are a huge pain in the butt to rank. Homepages don’t have a ton of content.
(And when they do it’s content aimed at selling).
In short, homepages usually aren’t the type of pages that Google wants to show their users.
That’s why I focus my homepage efforts on ranking for my brand name…and on conversions.

Publish Long Content

On-Page SEOIntermediateYes
Several industry studies (including ours) have found a correlation between long content and higher rankings. That’s not to say that publishing longer content will skyrocket you to the first page. But there’s plenty of data out there to show that publishing 1000+ word content helps.
02_Content Total Word Count_line

Put Your Keyword Early In Your Title Tag

On-Page SEOIntermediate
Search engines put more weight on terms that appear towards the beginning of a page. And the same rule applies to your title tag. So when it makes sense, put your keyword at the beginning of your page’s title tag. Here’s an example:
keyword appearing early in a title tag

Relaunch Old Content

On-Page SEOIntermediate
And it’s a practice that Hubspot has had a ton of success with:
relaunching content chart from hubspot

Replace "Published On" Dates with "Last Updated"

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
A few years ago I had a problem:
I’d go back to update and upgrade an old blog post. And despite the fact that the post was 50%+ new content, it still said: “Published on X”.
That meant that when someone saw the post they’d say: “Shucks! I dare say that this is one old post.”
(Yes, farmers read my blog)
Today, I swapped that the published date with “last updated”. That way my readers know whether or not they’re reading something that’s up-to-date.
blog post with last updated date

Take Advantage of Internal Linking

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediate
It’s easy to overthink internal linking.
Here’s the simple system I use:
Link FROM high-authority pages TO pages you want to rank.
It’s simple…but it works 🙂

Update Old Content

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
This might be the most underrated on-page SEO technique on the planet.
First off, updating shows Google that you care about your content.
And the updated information and images tell users: “This page is up-to-date”.  In fact, I update all of my posts at least once a year.

Use "Jump Links" To Get Sitelinks

On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
Sitelinks are one of the best ways to boost your page’s organic CTR. And you can significantly boost the odds of sitelinks by including “jump links” to different sections of your page. Google will then use the anchor text of those jump links as sitelinks:
sitelinks in google search results

Use Google Search Console to Find Title Tag Issues

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediate
Google states that they want your title tags to be: “descriptive and concise”. Unfortunately, as your site grows and ages you’ll end up with pages that have generic or missing title tags.
Fortunately, you can easily find these in the Google Search Console. Go to “Search Appearance” —> “HTML Improvements”—> “Non-informative title tags”.
title tag issues in the search console

Use Lots of Images

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
Images are an awesome way to break up your content into easily-readable chunks.
“Easily readable” means that users are likely to stick on your page.
And considering Google is paying more and more attention to user experience signals, anything you can do to boost dwell time can only help your SEO efforts.
(Plus, our study found a correlation between using at least one image and rankings)
Content Contains At Least 1 Image_line

Use Numbered Lists to Increase The Odds of Getting in The Knowledge Graph

On-Page SEOAdvanced
Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t just “How old is Leonardo Dicaprio” style searches.
In fact:
For many step-by-step or “how to do X” keywords, Google will sometimes pull your list of items and pop it into the ol’ Knowledge Graph.
example of a list of items in Google knowledge graph
And you can increase the odds of this happening by numbering the steps in your process (or the items in your list post). You can also use bullets to create a list of bullet-point items (like in the example above).

Use Outbound Links

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
Does linking to relevant content help your rankings? Google’s take: it might. But an industry study seems to show that outbound linking may give your content a slight rankings boost.

Use Schema to Boost CTR (But Be Careful)

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOAdvanced
Schema can hook you up with rich snippets in Google’s search results:
example of rich snippets
Obviously, review stars or an image in Google’s search results will boost your CTR. However, like anything in SEO, make sure to stay legit. Google is now penalizing peoplefor gaming the system with Schema markup.

Use Short URLs

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Shorter URLs are better for users and search engines.
Also, our analysis of 1 million Google search results revealed that shorter URLs tend to perform slightly better in Google than long URLs.
URL Length and First Page Google Rankings

Use This To Get Longer (4-Line) Description Tags

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvanced
I’d estimate that Google uses a page’s meta description tag in the search results only about 50% of the time.
Instead, they tend to pull content from the page and use that as the page’s description. Sometimes these Google-made descriptions are twice as long as the typical 2-line descriptions we’re used to:
4 line description tags
And it stands to reason that these results will get a higher CTR. The question is:
How do you get these 4-line descriptions? I’ve found that Google uses two factors:
1. The page’s overall authority
2. Actionable tips at the top of the page (how do they know it’s actionable? They’re Google. They’re smart)

So when it makes sense, put an actionable tip (or two) at the top of your page. Google may grab that tip and use it in an extra-long description.

Use Title Tag Modifiers

On-Page SEOAdvancedYes
Title tag modifiers are words and phrases that tend to get tacked onto the end of search terms. For example, someone searching for a credit card might search for things like: “best credit cards”, “credit cards 2016”, “credit card reviews” etc.
And when you add these modifiers to your title tag you’ll show up at the top of the page for those terms.
Here are a few modifiers you can use:
  • “best”
  • “reviews”
  • the current year
  • “checklist”
  • “PDF”
  • “guide”
  • “course”

Use Your Keyword In Your First 100 Words

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
This is an old school on-page SEO tactic that may or may not make a big difference anymore. But including your keyword at the top of your content certainly doesn’t hurt. So I still do it.
Plus, when a user sees the keyword they just searched for on your page, it helps them realize that they’re in the right place.
example of using a keyword early in an article

Want More Shares? Use Click To Tweet Buttons

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Ever think to yourself:
“I wish more people would share my content!”? Then you’ll love this SEO tip.
Instead of a generic “share my post” call to action, use a “Click To Tweet” instead. You can ask someone to tweet a specific tip, image…or even a quote.
click to tweet

Write Content That Covers a Topic In-Depth

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Our search engine ranking factors study found that in-depth content significantly outperformed shallow, surface-level content.
07_Content Topic Authority (MarketMuse Data)_line

Write Image Alt Text Like a Caption

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediate
Here’s the deal:
Google can’t actually see what’s in an image. Instead, they use image metadata — like the image filename and alt text — to understand what’s in that image.
That’s why I recommend including keywords in your image alt text. To avoid keyword stuffing simply write your alt text like it’s a caption.
keyword alt text example

Always Have a Specific Page (And Place) For Your Link

Link BuildingIntermediateYes
Here’s a huge mistake a see a lot of people make with link building:
They email someone asking for “a link”. The thing is, even if I LOVE your content, I can’t be bothered to find a page (and place) where your link makes sense.
Instead, always offer a specific page (and even spot on the page) where your link would add value. Here’s an example from a recent outreach email I sent out:
link building outreach email

Become a Regular Columnist on Authority Sites

Link BuildingAdvanced
My buddy Sujan Patel uses this technique to get his name in front of thousands of people every month.
He can also brag that he’s been featured on mega-authority sites like Forbes and the WSJ:
example of ive been featured on websites
Yes, it takes a lot of work to contribute a weekly or monthly column. But the benefits can make it well worth the effort.

Build .edu Links from Scholarships

Link BuildingAdvanced
Most universities have a page that links to scholarships, like this:
Scholarships list on edu website
And when you create one — and let the university know about it — you can land yourself a nice, quality backlink.
One caveat: this SEO technique is getting overused. So I don’t recommend creating a scholarship solely for link building. But if you already offer one, make sure to leverage that scholarship for some super-duper .edu backlinks.

Build Backlinks From Link Roundups

Link BuildingBeginner
Did you just publish something awesome?
Then pitch your content to link roundups. The links aren’t the most powerful on the planet, but they do make a dent. Plus, they’re super easy to build.
roundup backlink confirmation

Co-Produce a Piece of Content

Link BuildingAdvanced
Let’s face it:
Producing awesome content is hard work. But it’s a lot easier with a partner.
That’s why I recommend partnering with other sites. Collaborate on a case study, report or infographic.
For example, I regularly get emails from readers that got results from one of my strategies. And if it makes sense, we work together to write a case study for the blog:
reader that is featured on the backlinko blog
This helps me publish a high-quality case study for the Backlinko community. And they get exposure from being the “star” of the case study. It’s a win-win.

Collect (and Publish) Data

Link BuildingAdvancedYes
And it was my first foray into publishing my own data.
The result?
Backlinks from nearly 600 different domains.
referring domains in ahrefs
And I’ve seen the same phenomenon in dozens of different industries: unique data attracts backlinks like a moth to a flame.

Combine the Skyscraper Technique With Guest Posting

Link Building, Keyword ResearchIntermediate
What happens when you combine The Skyscraper Technique with traditional guest posting?
According to one case study at least, you can see a significant spike in your organic search engine traffic.
google analytics traffic increase

Consolidate Similar Posts Into a Mega Guide

On-Page SEO, Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvanced
Those 400-word posts from two years ago aren’t doing you any favors (in fact, they may be hurting your SEO efforts).
So if you have a bunch of mediocre posts that aren’t driving traffic, combine them into a mega guide.
The increased perceived value will help the guide attract 10x more links than a random smattering of shorter posts.

Contribute to Expert Roundups

Link BuildingIntermediate
Expert roundups are a collection of opinions and tips from a group of experts.
And you get a nice juicy backlink when you contribute something cool to the roundup.
roundup post submission

Create a Glossary of Terms

Link Building, Keyword ResearchIntermediate
I’ve seen glossaries CRUSH IT in several different industries.
For example, this glossary of gardening terms has over 300 backlinks (!).
ahrefs backlink report
The other cool thing about glossaries is that most of them are old and relatively small.
For example, the gardening glossary I mentioned above only has about 50 terms on it. Very beatable.

Create an Awesome Free Tool

Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvanced
People. Love. Tools.
More importantly, people love linking to free tools.
For example, this retirement calculator has links from 238 domains:
free tool as linkbait

Create Awesome Infographics

Link BuildingIntermediate
BuzzSumo discovered that infographics generate significantly more social shares than your average text-based blog post.
infographics vs blog posts
And my personal experience has shown me that (awesome) infographics tend to generate more backlinks too.
(Mostly because people will embed your infographic in their posts and link back to you)

Create Co-Branded Infographics With Cool Peeps

Link BuildingAdvanced
It’s harder than ever to publish a successful infographic.
Infographics used to be novel. Today? THOUSANDS come out every single day.
So how can you possibly get your piece of stand out?
Co-brand an infographic with someone else. That way you halve the work and double the promotional impact.

Create Linkable Content Around "Shoulder Niches"

Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvanced
In a boring niche? Then you might think that there’s no way you can create content that people will link to.
Fortunately, that’s not the case.
“Shoulder Niches” are closely-related topics that you CAN create awesome content around.
Just look at how Mike Bonadio used Shoulder Niches to boost his client’s organic traffic by 15%:
search engine traffic increase in Google analytics

Don't Bother Guest Posting (Unless You Follow These 2 Rules)

Link BuildingIntermediate
Guest posting is OK for link building as long you follow two simple rules:
Rule #1: Don’t make guest posting your go-to link building strategy
Rule #2: Don’t guest post on low-quality and/or irrelevant sites

Don't Completely Discount Nofollow Links

Link BuildingIntermediate
Google’s Matt Cutts has said that nofollow links can’t hurt you (unless you’re hardcore spamming).
But can they help?
My own testing (and a few industry studies) have found that nofollow links can help with rankings.
That’s why I don’t completely discount nofollow links. As long the link is a contextual link from a relevant site, I’ll take it.

Don't Overoptimize Anchor Text

Link BuildingBeginner
Sure, exact match anchor text can help you rank for a specific keyword.
But too many exact match anchors can also get you into hot water with Big G. Yup, I’m talking Google Penguin. Bottom line? Even though exact match anchor can help you, it’s not worth the risk.

Don't Overthink Link Quality

Link BuildingIntermediateYes
The #1 ranking signal we found in our recent ranking factors study was the number of sites linking to you.
05_Number of Referring Domains_line
So yeah, you should always focus on building uber-quality links whenever possible. But don’t overthink it.
If you find a quality site — but it doesn’t have the authority you want — get the link anyway.

Don't Sweat Metrics. If a Site LOOKS Good, Get The Link

Link BuildingIntermediate
I get this question all the time:
“Brian, what’s the minimum PA/DA/Trustflow/SiteAuthority that a site has to have for link building?”
My answer? I don’t even look at metrics anymore.
To me, if a site passes the “eyeball test”, it’s good to go.
In my experience links from sites that look good and publish quality content tend to have the most impact. So I don’t waste time fiddling around with metrics.

Don't Waste Time on Easy Links

Link BuildingIntermediate
If you find a strategy for “easy links”…
…run the other way as fast as you can.
Seriously. Any link building strategy that’s easy will eventually get devalued (or even penalized) by Google.
So I recommend sticking to “hard” links. In other words, links built with good ol’ fashioned email outreach.

Find Link Opportunites on Twitter

Link BuildingAdvanced
If you want a fresh set of link opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else, check out Twitter search.
twitter search results
You’ll often come across industry bloggers that you can build relationships with.
(And even sometimes content that you can get links from)

Focus on Contextual Links

Link BuildingIntermediate
Have you ever wondered:
“Will this link actually boost my rankings?”
In my experience contextual links seriously move your site up in Google’s search results. Here’s an example:
contextual backlink from a blog post
I recommend putting 100% of your focus on building links like that.

Focus on Link Relevancy

Link BuildingIntermediate
As an ex-Google employee once said: “…relevance is the new PR [PageRank].”
Yes, link metrics (like a page’s authority) still matter. But today, I put relevancy on equal footing with traditional link authority metrics.

Followup With Out of Office Emails

Link BuildingIntermediate
Ever use email outreach for link building? Then you’ve no doubt come across the dreaded “out of office” email.
Back in the day I’d wait for the person to reply when they got back from vacation.
But they never did.
This makes total sense: your target probably got 250+ emails during their trip. And your message about a broken link isn’t anywhere near the top of their priority list.
That’s why I follow up a few days after they get back to the office.
followup email

Get Interviewed on Podcasts

Link BuildingAdvancedYes
Podcasts might be the most underrated link building strategy on the planet.
Unlike guest posting, there’s a high barrier to entry.
(It’s also 10x easier to hop on a podcast than pitch, write, edit and publish a guest post)
podcast shownotes

Get Links From News Sites With HARO and MuckRack

Link BuildingAdvancedYes
You want to get mentions from news sites like the Huffington Post.
Reporters want quotes from experts.
HARO and MuckRack bring these two groups together.
It definitely takes some grinding to get a journalist to use your quote. But each link you do get is worth its weight in gold.

Get Links From Places That Use Your Visual Assets (Like Infographics)

Link BuildingIntermediate
In a perfect world, everyone would link back to you when they use your chart or infographic
But we don’t live in a perfect world 🙂
On the bright side, I’ve found that most people are happy to link to you when given a friendly nudge.
So if you tend to publish a lot of visual content, spend a few minutes today on Google reverse image search.
finding unlinked embeds of an infographic
This will show you every page that’s using your content. Then find people that didn’t link back…and send them a gentle reminder.

Help Hacked Websites

Link BuildingAdvanced
30,000 websites are hacked every day (source).
And most of these website owners have no idea their site is now under someone else’s control.
Fortunately, you can find these site owners and give them a heads up about their hacked site.
hacked website search
It’s a great way to get your foot in the door with influential webmasters in your niche.

Learn Everything You Can About Email Outreach

Link BuildingAdvancedYes
White hat link building is all about email outreach.
And the more you learn about this critical skill, the more backlinks you’ll get.
Here are some resources I recommend checking out:

Let People Know You Featured Them

Link BuildingBeginner
Want some easy shares (and even a potential backlink) from your next piece of content?
Let people know that you featured them in your content. It works:
example of outreach email to influencers

Make Your Content Appealing To Influencers

On-Page SEO, Link Building, User ExperienceIntermediate
Content marketing rookie: “I create content that appeals to my target customer”.
Content marketing pro: “I create content that appeals to industry influencers…and my target customer”.
This may sound like a small distinction. But creating content with influencers in mind makes a HUGE difference when you get down to the brass tacks of link building.
For more info on how this works, check out this post.

New to Link Building? Focus on Resource Pages

Link BuildingBeginner
Resource pages are a link builder’s dream.
I mean, these are pages designed for the sole purpose of linking to awesome content!
Here’s an example of a resource page about tea:
resource page
So if you’re new to link building, focus 100% on building backlinks from resource pages. They’re relatively easy to find and get links from.

Offer Discounts to Universities

Link BuildingAdvanced
Create a fat discount for university students and staff. Then let them know about it.
When you do you can land yourself some sweet .edu backlink action:
university discount listing page

Promote to People That Commented on Another Post

Link BuildingIntermediate
When someone leaves a comment on a post you know a few things about them:
First, they’re knowledgeable about your topic (or at least think they are 🙂 )
Second, they like to discuss that topic.
This means that these folks are VERY likely to be receptive to your outreach.

Promote Your Content to People That Just Shared Something Similar

Link BuildingIntermediate
If you want people to share your content, here’s what to do:
First, find people that recently shared something on that topic.
Next, let them know about your content.
(Seriously, that’s it).
Here’s an example:
email to influencer

Promote Your Content To Your Email List

Link Building, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Forget Facebook.
Forget Twitter.
If you want people to see your latest piece of content, promote it to your email list.
In my experience NOTHING beats the sheer quantity and quality of engagement that you get from email subscribers.

Reach Out to Bloggers That JUST Published a Post

Link BuildingAdvanced
I’ve found that people are MUCH more likely to change a brand new post than one they published five years ago.
And you can use an alert tool to get fresh link prospects delivered to your inbox every day:
fresh mentions screenshot

Send Personalized Emails to Contact Forms and "Info@" Emails

Link BuildingBeginnerYes
Contact forms and “contact@” email are the bane of a link builder’s existence.
9 times outta 10 you never hear back. It’s like your message ends up in a black hole.
I’ve found a trick that significantly boosts the conversion rates from contact forms:
Write your message to the person you want to get in touch with.
For example, let’s say you want to let Jane know about your awesome ultimate guide. But you aren’t able to find Jane’s email address.
Simply send a personalized message “to” Jane via the site’s contact form.
contact form submission for link building
Because it’s so targeted, the person that runs the generic inbox will likely forward your email to Jane.

Speak at Conferences and Events

Link BuildingAdvanced
Is this a lot of work for a single link? You betcha.
Fortunately, speaking at events has fistfuls of benefits –from networking to positioning yourself as an authority.
Also, when you speak, bloggers that write about the event will also link to you.
example of blogger writing about a conference talk
In fact, I’ve received 5+ links from speaking at a single conference.

Tap Into Reverse Guest Posting

Link BuildingAdvanced
Reverse guest posting is where you get an authoritative blogger to write a guest post for YOUR site.
As you may expect, having a baller’s content on your site be a HUGE credibility booster.
It’s not easy to convince an influencer to write a guest post, but the payoff can be well worth it.

Test Two-Step Email Outreach

Link BuildingAdvancedYes
Most people send their link pitch in their first email.
But I’ve found that a two-step email outreach process converts MUCH better. In fact, Mike doubled his conversion rate with a 2-step approach:
Two step email sequence conversion rate

Time Your Outreach Emails

Link BuildingIntermediate
When I first started link building I’d send outreach emails whenever I felt like it.
Big mistake.
I quickly learned that WHEN you send your emails makes a difference…a big difference.
That’s why today I use Boomerang. This tool makes sure your email hits your target’s inbox at just the right time.
boomerang for gmail
(I’ve found that 1-3pm is best)

Transcribe Text Content Into Audio (Or Vice Versa)

Link BuildingAdvanced
Offer a blogger an audio version of their post…or a text version of their podcast or video.
Word of warning: make sure you don’t trade this service in exchange for a backlink (this goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines). Just send them the text or audio. And leave the linking decision up to them.
Plus, even if you don’t get a link, you’ve done someone a solid. And that can lead to a long-term relationship down the road.

Translate Other People's Content

Link BuildingAdvanced
Whenever you find a resource that would be valuable to a global audience, send the author a translated version.
If they like the translation, they may use it and link back to you:
translation link

Trim Your Link Profile's Spammy Links

Link BuildingAdvanced
When it comes to backlinks, what you don’t know CAN hurt you.
That’s why I highly recommend pruning your link profile of spammy links. Maybe you built them back in the spun article days of 2011. Maybe your competitor blasted you with blog comments.
Either way, those links are a risk to your site’s search engine rankings.
Proactively use email outreach to remove as many bad links as you can. And disavow the rest.

Turn Unlinked Mentions Into Backlinks

Link BuildingIntermediate
First, use a tool like Buzzsumo alerts to get a heads up whenever your brand is mentioned on the web.
When you see an unlinked mention like this…
example of unlinked brand mention
…ask the author to add a link to your website.

Uncover Untapped Link Opportunities With Keyword Monitoring

Link BuildingAdvanced
Keyword monitoring shows you bloggers that just published content on your topic.
(In other words PERFECT peeps to reach out to)
For example, let’s say you want to build some links to your new ultimate guide to eco-friendly travel.
You’d set up an alert in Buzzsumo for keywords like “green travel”, “eco travel” etc.
buzzsumo alerts
And you’ll get a heads up anytime someone publishes something on that topic.

Update Other People's Outdated Content

Link BuildingAdvanced
Whenever you find a piece of content that’s good — but outdated — offer to give it a fresh coat of paint.
In my experience most site owners are happy to have someone freshen up their old content with new links, advice and images.
(Of course, they’ll sometimes add a link to you as their way of saying “thanks!”)

Use Blog Lists to Find Authoritative Link Opportunities

Link BuildingIntermediate
How do you find the best blogs in your industry?
Well you could Google “your topic” + “blog”. But that will only get you so far.
Instead, I recommend checking out hand-curated lists of quality blogs:
best of blog list
In my experience blogs that appear on lists like these make great link targets.

Use Broken Link Building (And The Moving Man Method)

Link BuildingAdvancedYes
Want to 3x the results from your email outreach?
Then let your targets know about broken links (or outdated resources) on their site.
This way you provide value to the site owner BEFORE pitching your resource.
(And it works)
example of broken link building email for link building

Use Contentmarketer.io to Find Emails

Link BuildingIntermediate
Finding people’s email addresses is a big pain in the butt.
That’s why I use ContentMarketer.io. Simply upload a list of people and get a list of working email addresses.
content marketer email outreach list
Very cool.

Use Google Images To Find Guest Post Opportunities

Link BuildingIntermediate
First, find someone in your niche that tends to guest post a lot.
Second, grab their image and pop it into Google’s reverse image search.
Voila! You can see everywhere they’ve guest posted:
finding guest post opportunities with google images

Use Linkclump to Grab Prospects

Link BuildingIntermediate
Linkclump is a handy Google Chrome extension that lets you grab multiple link prospects from Google’s search results.
linkclump in action
That way you don’t have to click on every Google result one at a time.

Use Million Short to Zero-In On Realistic Link Targets

Link BuildingIntermediate
How much time do you spend filtering out giants like YouTube and Amazon from your list of link prospects?
It’s a massive pain.
Enter: MillionShort. This nifty tool filters out the top 100, 1000 or million sites from your results.
million short search tool
Very, very cool.

Use Testimonials to Build Backlinks

Link BuildingIntermediate
If there’s a product or service that you love, see if they have a testimonials page that link out:
testimonials page
Then let them know that you’d be happy to submit a testimonial for their page. When you do, you might find yourself with an easy (yet powerful) link.

Use Yesware to Optimize Your Email Outreach Tactics

Link BuildingAdvanced
Yesware shows you if people are opening your emails, clicking on your links or forwarding emails to other people.
Creepy? Yes.
But it’s a tool that REALLY helps you figure out what’s not working with your email outreach…so you can fix it.
yesware in action

Write Epic Content In The Form of Ultimate Guides, Case Studies and Mega Lists

Link BuildingIntermediate
There are (literally) 2 million blog posts published every single day.
That means that your 500-word “5 tips for weight loss” post is just a drop in the ocean.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you can still get links from your content. How? Publish epic content like case studies, definitive guides and huge lists.
For example, my definitive guide to keyword research has attracted backlinks from 350+ domains.
referring domains in ahrefs2


Can Your Keyword Get "Knowledge Graphed"?

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
If so, avoid that keyword like the plague.
You don’t want to be like these poor guys:
example of google knowledge graph

Choose Keywords That Are Movin' on Up

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Do this before you decide on your next keyword:
Pop it into Google Trends. That way you can see if your target keyword’s popularity is moving on’ up…or dying a slow death.
google trends chart

Choose Keywords With High Commercial Intent

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes
When I first got started in SEO I’d choose keywords based on two factors:
1) Search volume and 2) competition.
Not good. Today I understand that a keyword’s commercial intent is super important.
If you ignore commercial intent than you may spend time ranking a keyword that makes you exactly zero dollars.
That’s why I recommend choosing keywords that have a high “suggested bid” in the Google Keyword Planner.
suggested bid in the google keyword planner

Create Branded Keywords

Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes
The Moving Man Method.
The Content Upgrade.
These are all terms that I coined.
And because of that fact, I rank #1 in Google for all of them.
That’s why I highly recommend coining your own term. It takes a ton of work for that term to become a keyword people search for. But it’s well, well worth it.

Don't Focus on Long Tail Keywords

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes
Long tail keywords have their place.
But Google Panda and Semantic search has made targeting a bunch of long tail keywords ineffective.
Instead, target moderately high volume keywords (I call these “Medium Tail Keywords”).

Find Awesome Topics (And Keywords) In a Book's Table of Contents

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes
Here’s how to execute this SEO technique:
First, find the most popular books on your topic in Amazon.
Next, check out the table of content’s. Each chapter it a potential topic/keyword idea.
amazon book chapters used for keyword research
Finally, pop the chapter titles into the Google Keyword Planner to check out search volume, commercial intent etc.

Find Keyword Ideas in Wikipedia

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Wikipedia’s table of contents can have some AWESOME keywords in them.
(And these are keywords that you may not have found using any other technique)
wikipedia table of contents used for keyword research

Find Keyword Ideas on Quora

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Quora is a goldmine for keyword research. That’s because it’s a community devoted to one thing: asking and answering questions.
To find keywords in Quora, just search for a potential topic. Then keep an eye out for keywords that appear in questions (and answers).
quora keyword ideas
For example, a quick search for “Paleo Diet” uncovered potential seed keywords like:
  • Atkins vs. Paleo diet
  • Scientific basis of Paleo diet
  • Paleo diet actually healthy
  • Pros and cons of Paleo diet

Find Keywords with "Searches Related To..."

Keyword ResearchBeginner
Google’s “Searches related to X” can help you uncover long tail keywords…and keywords that you may not find any other way:
googles searches related to section

Find Kick-Butt Keyword Ideas in Conference Agenda Pages

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes
Conference agendas list talks that people pay money to see.
All you need to do is note any potential keywords in the title and description of each talk:
conference agenda example
All of these make excellent seed keywords to pop into the Google Keyword Planner.

Generate 1 Million Keyword Ideas With "Keyword Magic"

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Keyword Magic is a new feature in SEMRush that generates an insane amount of keyword ideas.
Just enter a keyword into the tool and it’ll spit out up to…one million keywords.
(Yes, I felt like Dr. Evil when I wrote that 😀 )
semrush keyword magic search

Generate Keyword Ideas From Your Users

Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
We ask users what they think about our products.
We ask users what they think about our content.
So why don’t we ask them what keywords they search for?
Instead of buying the latest and greatest keyword research tool, simply ask your users what they’d use to find you.
And you can easily track the queries they use with the helpful SeedKeywords tool.
example of finding keywords with seedkeywords

Hack Google Suggest With "Wildcards"

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes
You probably already know that you can find keywords using Google Suggest.
But what you may not know is that you can use “Wildcards” to find even MORE untapped keywords.
For example, let’s say that you’re using Google Suggest to find variations of the keyword “SEO tips”.
(A very meta example, I know).
Sure, you can type “SEO tips” into Google and see what keywords it shows you.
But you can also add a wildcard “_” in the beginning or middle of the term.
google suggest with wildcard
This technique often reveals keywords that are tough to find any other way.

Look at the SERPS Before Deciding on a Keyword

Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes
Knowledge graph.
These features can steal clicks from your organic result.
And unless you put your tool away and actually look at the results, you’ll have no idea what people see when they search for that keyword.
So before deciding on a keyword, look at the SERPs. If there are lots of ads (and a knowledge graph) you may want to move onto the next keyword on your list.

Optimize Keywords Ranking In Positions #7-#15

Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes
Pages ranking in positions #7-#15 can sometimes crack the top 5 with a little TLC.
To find them, head over to the Google Search Console.
Then take note of pages that are at the bottom of the first page…
…or the top of the second page:
positions in google search console
Finally, use link building, on-page SEO and UX optimization to catapult those pages to the top of the first page.

Provide "What is X" Information For Definition Keywords

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediate
When someone searches for a high-level term like “inbound marketing”, they’re usually looking for a definition. And as Ross Hudgens points out, results on the first page for terms like these tend to be “what is X”-focused pages.
So if you’re gunning for a definition keyword, make at least some of your page focused on answering the question: “What is X?”.
example results for a definition keyword

Steal Your Competitors' Keywords With SEMRush

Keyword ResearchBeginnerYes
SEMRush is my favorite keyword research tool for one main reason:
It  shows you keywords that your competition already ranks for. That means that there’s zero creativity required.
Just pop in a competitor and steal the keywords they’re already optimizing for:
semrush organic rankings report.png

Tap Into Google's Underrated Keyword Research Tool

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Google Correlate shows you keywords that tend to get searched for together.
For example, someone searching for “blogging” may also search for:
  • WordPress
  • Blog comments
  • Blog post ideas
  • Copywriting tips
To use Google Correlate, just pop a keyword into the tool and see what it pops out:
google correlate screenshot

Target Brand New Keywords

Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes
Here’s one of my favorite SEO tips: target keywords that are new. In other words, keywords that didn’t exist a few months ago.
For example:
At the time, the Keyword Planner was brand new.
And because the keyword was relatively new there was ZERO competition on the first page.
So I quickly cemented a spot in the top 5 for that keyword (and still rank there today).
example google first page ranking

Use Amazon Suggest to Find Ecommerce Keywords

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Amazon Suggest is one of the best ways to quickly find long tail keywords for your ecommerce product and category pages.
Simply enter a seed keyword and see what Amazon pops out:
amazon suggest

Use Blog Comments to Find Content Gaps (And Then Close 'em)

Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediate
Check out comments on competitor’s blogs. What questions do people tend to ask? What topics are they asking to be covered?
These comments can help you find topics (and keywords) that your target audience wants to learn more about.
For example, this comment shows that people might want to learn how to design attractive infographics.
blog comment with a question

Use Internal Search Results to Uncover Laser-Targeted Keyword Ideas

Keyword Research, User ExperienceBeginner
Internal searches hand you laser-targeted keywords on a silver platter. I recommend seeing what terms people search for on your site at least once per month. Then create content around those keywords. Simple yet effective.

Use Pinterest Ads to Find Ecommerce Keyword Ideas

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
If you sell physical products, Pinterest is an untapped source of product and category keywords.
And Pinterest Ads is the easiest way to find keywords that your target customers search for on Pinterest (and probably on Google too).
Pinterest ads search

Use SEMRush to Gauge Keyword Difficulty

Keyword ResearchIntermediate
Keyword difficulty is a tricky thing to measure. After all, Google uses over 200 ranking signals to rank pages. And we can only see a handful of them.
That said, it’s smart to at least glance at a keyword’s competition before optimizing for it.
And I’ve found that SEMRush‘s difficulty score is one of the most accurate out there.
keyword difficulty score in semrush

Use Uber Suggest and KeywordTool.io to Find Google Suggest Keywords

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes
These two tools scrape Google Suggest results. Super helpful for finding long tail keyword ideas that people actually search for.
uber suggest in use to find keyword ideas

Write Out Clear Steps For "How To Do X" Keywords

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediate
When someone searches for “how to talk like Yoda” they want one simple thing:
To talk like Yoda!
So instead of a ton of background on how awesome Yoda is (which everyone knows already), simply lay out the steps.
When you do, you’ll boost your odds of ending up in the Knowledge Graph:
how to knowledge graph example


Check (And Fix) Crawl Errors in Google Search Console

Technical SEOIntermediate
I recommend digging into the “Crawl Errors” section of Google Search Console at least once a month.
This report reveals technical issues that can hurt your rankings.
website crawl errors

Check Google Search Console Every Week For Issues

Technical SEOIntermediate
I was recently chatting with a friend who heads up SEO at a big company. Their organic traffic had recently took a hit and they didn’t know why.
They pored over every page. They hired consultants.
But they couldn’t figure it out. Then one day they had an idea: let’s check the Google Search Console!
Sure enough, they had a manual penalty message waiting for them. #facepalm
That’s why I recommend logging into your GSC account weekly.
You’ll see messages from Google…but also indexing and search visibility problems that can hurt your SEO efforts.
example of errors in google search console

Create AMP Pages

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
Accelerated Mobile Pages” are designed to load super quickly on mobile devices.
While Google may not use AMP as a direct ranking signal, they have been pushing AMP pages.
Plus, their demo shows that AMP pages could get highlighted in the SERPs someday soon.
Google AMP page demo

Create an XML and HTML Sitemap

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
Sitemaps help Google find (and index) your site’s pages.
So make sure to create an XML and HTML sitemap of your site. And submit them to Google via the Google Search Console.
xml sitemap status in google search console

Delete (Or Noindex) Mediocre Blog Posts

On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvancedYes
love deleting crappy old blog posts.
Because the truth is this:
If a page isn’t bringing in traffic or revenue, its USELESS. So delete it or redirect it to another relevant post.
In fact, Koozai deleted 900 blog posts without any issues.

Destroy Duplicate Content

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediate
Duplicate content alone probably won’t get you into trouble with Google.
That said, duplicate content + other on-site issues=SEO problems.
So it’s worth staying on top of. A tool like Raven can help you find (and fix) duplicate content issues.
raven duplicate content

Dodge Duplicate Content With Canonical URLs

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOAdvanced
Run a massive ecommerce site with thousands of pages? Then you probably have lots of duplicate content.
It’s inevitable.
As you know, duplicate content can really hurt your on-site SEO efforts. That’s why I recommend setting up canonical URLs using the rel=canonical tag.
chart of canonical urls
These can help you avoid getting dinged by Google for having lots of duplicate content on your site.

Double Check That You're Using 100% 301 Redirects

Technical SEOIntermediate
Yes, 302 redirects pass PageRank. But probably not as much as a good ol’ fashioned 301 redirect.
That’s why I recommend checking that your permanent redirects are all 301 redirects.
You can easily check this by using Google’s “Fetch as Google” feature:
301 redirect check fetch as google

Double Check That Your Site is Mobile Friendly

Technical SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
Not sure if Google considers your site (or page) mobile-friendly?
Then search for your page on a mobile device. And keep an eye out for the “mobile-friendly” label.
google mobile friendly designation
If you see that label, you’re set.

Fix HTML Issues and Errors

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
No, you don’t need to be WC3 validated. And Google probably doesn’t use HTML as a direct ranking signal.
That said, sloppy code can effect how your site appears to users…which CAN hurt your SEO efforts.
That’s why I recommend at least taking a look at your code for issues and errors.
html code validator

Have Public Whois Information

Technical SEOBeginner
Public Whois information may be a Google trust signal.
So only use private Whois information if you have a super good reason to do so. Otherwise, make it public.

Implement SSL (But Not Just for SEO)

Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvanced
Google came right out and said it:
HTTPS is a “ranking signal“.
(And our ranking factors study found a small correlation between HTTPS and rankings)
Use of HTTPS_line
So if you’ve been on the fence about SSL, this might push you to try it.
However, I don’t recommend switching to HTTPS solely for SEO. It can cause serious technical issues that can do more harm than good.

Invest in a High-End Host for Faster Load Times

Technical SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Want your site to load faster?
Forget plugins, WordPress themes or HTML. Invest in a premium host instead.
Just like anything in business, you get what you pay for with hosting. In fact, I’ve seen a 2x increase in speed by switching to a better host.

Keep an Eye on UGC

Technical SEOIntermediate
If you allow User Generated Content on your site, make sure to keep a very close eye on what people are publishing.
Because UGC can quickly become a spamfest. A spamfest that Google may penalize you for.

Make Your Website Responsive

Technical SEOIntermediate
Anything you do to make your site mobile-friendly is a step in the right direction.
However, Google recommends responsive design. And so do I.

Noindex Dynamic URLs

Technical SEOIntermediate
Yes, dynamic URLs DO get indexed.
And these dynamic URLs can lead to thin or duplicate content issues.
So if you find your dynamic URLs in Google’s index, slap a “noindex” tag on them.

Periodically Check Your Robots.txt File

Technical SEOIntermediate
Sometimes you’ll find that there are blocked pages you don’t want blocked (or vice versa).
The only way to know is to check your robots.txt file every few months.
robots txt file example

Prune Zero-Traffic Ecommerce Product Pages

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvanced
Here’s the deal:
Most ecommerce sites have WAY too many product pages.
And if you look at Google Analytics, 95% of these pages bring in a grand total of zero dollars in revenue.
So for the sake of your SEO, delete these pages. One ecommerce site saw a 31% boost in organic traffic (not to mention a 28% increase in revenue) when they “pruned” 11k low-performing product pages.
google analytics screenshot of traffic

Scraped Content Outranking You? Let Google Know

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOBeginner
Is someone stealing your content? Not cool.
Is that same someone outranking you in Google? Even less cool.
Fortunately, you can report that jerk to Google via a DMCA report. If Google agrees that you’re the original author, you may get the ranking you deserve.

Speed Up Your Wordpess Blog With WP Rocket

Technical SEOBeginner
I’ve tried a bunch of site speed plugins over the years. And WP Rocket is my current favorite.
Its super easy to use and works insanely well.
wp rocket wordpress plugin

Squish Images (Without Losing Quality) With Kraken

Technical SEOBeginner
I’d estimate that images makeup 75% of your site’s loading time.
So it pays to optimize your images as much as possible. In my experience, Kraken.ioworks the best.
Kraken shrinks your images without sacrificing quality.


On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateYes
There’s no doubt about it:
When it comes to search engine optimization, subfolders (backlinko.com/example) CRUSH subdomains (example.backlinko.com).
Sure, Google stated that they don’t have an inherent preference for one or the other.
But I’ve seen rankings shoot up with a switch to a subfolder. So my eyes, experience and gut tells me that subfolders are ideal for SEO.

Tie Your Sites Together in GSC

Technical SEOIntermediate
Google’s “property sets” let you to group your site’s various elements (like mobile and desktop versions) under one roof in the Google Search Console.
google property sets

Use a Flat and Wide Website Architecture

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
You want to minimize the number of clicks it takes to get to your site’s inner pages.
That way PageRank will flow evenly to your pages, making them more likely to get indexed.
(Flat website architecture can also help your inner-pages rank better)
Here’s a good example of how you’d set up a “Flat and Wide” site architecture for an ecommerce site:
flat and wide site architecture

Use Google PageSpeed Insights to Improve Your Code

On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
If you’re not sure if (or why) your site is sluggish, pop it into Google’s Pagespeed Insight tool.
google pagespeed insights
This free tool will show you how to tweak your site’s code for faster loading speed.

Use Google Search Console to Find (And Fix) Duplicate Title Tags

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOBeginner
Google wants you to use unique title and description tags on every page.
Fortunately, the “HTML Improvements” section of the Google Search Console makes finding these duplicate meta tag issues simple.
google search console duplicate title and description tags

Use GTMetrix to Improve Your Site's Actual Loading Speed

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Google’s Pagespeed Insight tool only evaluates your page’s code.
However, your code is only half the story.
If you want to Usain Bolt speed, you need to optimize your server, plugins and CDN.
And GTmetrix’s awesome tool makes optimizing your site’s overall speed performance a breeze.
gtmetrix performance report

Use RavenTools to Uncover Thin Content

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediate
“Thin content” refers to content that doesn’t provide a lot of value.
Yes, an article with 1000+ words can technically be considered “thin content”. But for most websites, thin content means pages with <150 words of content on it.
Finding these potential thin content pages is a huge pain…unless you use Raven Tool’ssite auditor. It crawls your site and shows you pages that likely have thin content:
low word count raven tools

Use SEMRush or Raven Tools to Check Your Site for Errors

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateYes
Is SEO important to you? If so, run a monthly site audit with RavenTools or SEMRush.
They’ll scan your site for errors…
…and hook you up with actionable tips for fixing them.
webite audit via semrush

Use SEO Browser to See What Your Site Looks Like to Search Engines

Technical SEOBeginner
The way search engines see your site is COMPLETELY different than how users see it.
To get a search engine spider’s perspective, enter a URL into the handy SEO Browsertool.
webpage using an seo browser

Use Website Penalty Indicator to See If You've Been Hit

On-Page SEO, Link Building, Technical SEOIntermediate
Have your rankings suddenly dropped?
It may have been a Google update, like Panda or Penguin.
While there’s no way to know for sure, the nifty Website Penalty Indicator will show you if your traffic dip coincides with a known Google update.
website penalty indicator

Use Your Site on a Mobile Device

Technical SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
Yes, actually USE your site on a mobile device.
You’d be surprised how many UX issues you’ll uncover this way…
…UX issues that may be hurting your SEO.


Add Transcriptions to Videos

On-Page SEO, Video SEOBeginner
If you host your videos on a platform like Wistia, you definitely want to put a transcription underneath your video.
Otherwise you have a page with…just a video.
That may be OK for users. But Google needs text to fully understand what your video (and page) is all about.
So I recommend including a transcription (or meaty summary) below your video.

Create a Video Sitemap

Technical SEO, Video SEOIntermediate
Do you host a lot of video content on your site?
Then I highly recommend creating a video sitemap using the Yoast Video SEO plugin.
This plugin helps Google index and understand your videos…
…which increases the odds they’ll rank in Google.

Create Keyword-Rich Playlists in YouTube

Keyword Research, Video SEOIntermediate
First, your playlist can actually rank in YouTube’s search results.
playlist ranking in youtube
Second, your playlist title gives YouTube more context to what your videos are about.
For example, let’s say you have a bunch of videos under a playlist “My Favorite SEO Tips”. YouTube is more likely to suggest your videos to people that are interested in SEO.

Create Long Videos (They Rank Better in YouTube)

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
This is probably due to the fact that longer videos=longer session time.
Straight from Google:
“The algorithm for suggesting videos includes prioritizing videos that lead to a longer overall viewing session over those that receive more clicks.”
So when it makes sense, create a video that comprehensively covers your topic.

Embed Your Videos in Blog Posts

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
If the video is a YouTube video, these embeds will boost views (and therefore rankings).
Either way, embedded videos can significantly improve your bounce rate and dwell time numbers.
Here’s an example of an embedded video from Backlinko:
emebedded video

Embed Your YouTube Videos in Guest Posts

Video SEOBeginner
This is another way to get more (targeted) views.
Also, embeds are an important YouTube ranking factor.
So it’s a double whammy (the good kind).

Get YouTube Video Views From Online Communities

Link Building, Video SEOIntermediate
I probably don’t need to tell you that YouTube SEO is largely a game of total watch time.
But what if you have one YouTube subscriber…
…and that subscriber is your mom?
That’s where online communities (like forums) come into play. You can embed or link to your video to in your response.
example of sharing video in online community
When you do, you’ll get super-targeted video views that will help your YouTube rankings.

Implement Video Schema

Technical SEO, Video SEOAdvanced
If you embed your videos with YouTube or Wistia, schema is added for you automatically.
wistia embed code
If not, I recommend adding video metadata using this helpful tutorial from Google.

Include Your Keyword In Your Video's Filename, Title and Description

Keyword Research, Video SEOBeginner
Remember: Google still has trouble understanding what videos are about.
But when you include your target keyword (at least once) in your video’s filename, title and description you’ll help Google and YouTube understand your video’s topic.

Maximize Video Indexing by Putting Video at the Top of Your Page

On-Page SEO, Video SEOBeginner
Have a page where your video IS the content?
Then make sure to put your video at the top of the page.
Videos at the top of a page are more likely to be indexed by Google than videos that appear further down.

Optimize Around “Video Keywords”

Keyword Research, Video SEOIntermediateYes
Creating an awesome video? Awesome.
Ranking your video in Google? Awesomer!
But if you want to get your video in Google’s search results, you need to target Video Keywords.
Video Keywords are keywords that Google already shows video results for.
video keyword in google
In other words, if you don’t see a video on Google’s first page, it’s unlikely you’ll get your video to rank for that keyword. Instead, go for a Video Keyword.

Optimize Your Thumbnail Image For More Views

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
When I first started with video marketing, I ignored my thumbnail.
I thought: “They’re either gonna watch it or they aren’t. The thumbnail won’t make a difference.”
Boy was I wrong.
Dead wrong.
(OK, not “dead wrong”. But it feels cool to say that 🙂 )
Now I understand that the right video thumbnail can boost viewership by 50% or more. So I spend time making the thumbnails for videos in my channel look cool:
video thumbnails

Promote YouTube Videos to Your Email List

Video SEOIntermediateYes
A while back I published this video on link building.
Instead of waiting months for the video to accumulate views, I sent it to the Backlinko email list.
And the video quickly got hundreds of high-retention views.
Within DAYS my video ranked in the top 5 for the keyword: “link building” (where it still is today).
youtube ranking

Use "Like this" CTAs on YouTube

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Your video’s likes are an important YouTube ranking signal.
Instead of sitting back and HOPING people hit “like” on your video, why not ask them?
example of like call to action
I’ve found that a gentle ask increases my video’s likes 2-5x.

Use End Slate on YouTube to Get More Subs

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Want more YouTube subscribers?
Add an “end slate” to the end of your video…
…and ask people to subscribe.
video end slate in youtube
Just look at the difference in subscribers when I started using end slates:
subscriber count youtube
(Of course the videos with an end slate are more recent and therefore tend to get more subscribers. But it doesn’t account for the massive boost in subscribers. The end slate made a big, big difference).

Use Open Loops To Boost Video View Retention

Video SEO, User ExperienceIntermediate
Yes, viewer retention is a HUGE YouTube ranking signal.
But even if you self-host your video, you obviously want people to watch it all the way to the end.
That’s where “open loops” come into play. Open loops are where you mention something coming later on in the video.
This little preview makes the person watching say: “I better stick around to see what that’s all about.”
If you want more tips for boosting video view retention, check out my guide to YouTube SEO.

Use These Two Tips to Boost Session Watch Time

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Video SEO experts agree: Session watch time is YouTube’s #1 ranking signal.
That’s why I’m hooking you up with two of my favorite session watch time tips:
Tip #1: Use annotations to link to your other videos. People will click through and watch that video too…boosting session watch time.
Tip #2: Use an end slate. This will encourage people to watch to the very end of the video. You can also use your end slate to pitch your other videos.
Here’s an example of an end slate in action:
end slate from youtube video

Use YouTube Suggest to Find Video Keywords

Keyword Research, Video SEOBeginner
Yup, just like you do with Google.
youtube autosuggset

Write Long Descriptions for YouTube Videos

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Video SEOBeginnerYes
Long video descriptions help Google understand what your video is about.
So I recommend writing YouTube video descriptions that are at least 250 words.
long youtube video description


Avoid Using Huge Images Above Your Content

User ExperienceIntermediate
Yes, putting a cool image at the top of your article can grab your reader’s attention. But make sure your image isn’t TOO big. If it is, it pushes your content below the fold. That means your users have to scroll just to read the first sentence.
Unfortunately, most Google searchers won’t scroll. And they’ll hit their back button.
So if you DO use an image at the top of your page, make sure it doesn’t push your content down below the fold. Here’s how I do it:
above the fold image

Copy Adwords Ads for Highly-Clickable Title and Description Tags

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Google Adwords ads are an untapped goldmine of words and phrases that you can use in your page’s title and description tag.
(After all, these ads are super-optimized for clicks)
And when you use proven ad copy in your title and descriptions, you’ll have an organic listing that stands out from the pack. Check out this video for a step-by-step guide to executing this SEO tip.

Create Attention-Grabbing Blog Post Intros

User ExperienceIntermediateYes
This may sound crazy, but here it goes:
I spend more time on my introductions than my headlines.
That’s because I’ve found that your introduction can make or break two critical user experience signals: bounce rate and dwell time.
So before you hit “publish”, invest some time into making a kick-butt introduction.

Emphasize Fast Results In Your Description Tag

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceAdvanced
Google searchers want their answer FAST.
And if you offer a quick answer (or solution) in your content, don’t be afraid to mention that fact in your description tag.
Specifically, use words like:
  • Fast results
  • Works fast
  • Hours, minutes, days
  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Simple

Encourage Users to Leave Comments On Your Content

User ExperienceIntermediate
Google’s Gary Illyes states that an active community on your site can help “a lot” with rankings.
comment from google on community

Make Sure Your Ads Don't Dominate The Above The Fold Area

User ExperienceBeginner
If you use ads to monetize your site, then this is a super-important SEO tip to pay attention to:
Google hates it when a page is dominated by ads…especially when those ads are above the fold.
So do your best to minimize the amount of ads at the top of your page.

Make Your Design Clean and Easy To Read

User ExperienceIntermediate
People size up the quality and credibility of your site based largely on design.
And if your site looks credible, people are more likely to link to it.

Optimize Your Meta Description for CTR

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Google doesn’t use your description tag to understand your page’s topic.
But that doesn’t mean the description tag is completely useless. In fact, your description tag can make a HUGE difference in your CTR.
So make sure to optimize that bad boy for clicks.

Put Your Content Front and Center

User ExperienceBeginner
Google searchers want their results FAST. And if they can’t easily find the answer their looking for, they’re going to bounce like a rubber ball.
So place your main content front and center on your page. Here’s an example from Backlinko:
a webpage focused on content
As you can see there’s very little going on EXCEPT for the content. This makes users (and Google happy).

Sprinkle Bucket Brigades Into Every Post

User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Bucket Brigades are words and phrases designed to keep your visitors from hitting their “back” button.
Here’s an example from a recent blog post:
bucket brigade example
See how that makes you want to keep reading? I recommend at least three bucket brigades for every post (especially in the beginning and middle of your content).

Use a Colorful Image Above The Fold

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
Including a colorful image at the top of your article can cut down on your bounce rate and boost dwell time. How? Eye-catching images make it more likely that your visitor will read the rest of your page.
image above the fold and readability

Use a Number In Your Title Tag

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Several industry studies have found that numbers (especially odd numbers) boost CTR. And this rule definitely applies to your title tags. So whenever you can, include a number in your page’s title tag.
numbers in title tags

Use At Least 15px Font Size

User ExperienceIntermediate
Several readability studies show that 16px is ideal. But if that font size looks too big, go for 15px.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that 12px, 13px or 14px is simply too hard to read.
(On the internet, “hard to read”=”won’t read”).

Use Click Magnet Words on Title Tags

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
“Click Magnet Words” are terms that tend to attract clicks. And when you use these in your title tag, you can get more clicks from Google searchers.
Here are some of my favorites:
  • New
  • Proven
  • Now
  • A number (“7 lbs.”, “431 backlinks” etc.)
  • Free

Use Facebook Ads to Boost Organic CTR

User ExperienceIntermediate
Imagine you just searched for a keyword. And you see three brands:
Brand X
Brand A
Which are you most likely to click on?
Backlinko of course! Why? Because you’re familiar with that brand.
That’s why increasing brand familiarity can double the odds that someone clicks on your result. And Facebook ads are a great way to do just that.

Use Google Analytics to Find Pages With Low Dwell Time (and Improve Them)

User ExperienceAdvanced
This SEO tip is dead-simple:
First, head over to Google Analytics.
Then go to “Behavior” –> “Site Content” –> “Landing Pages”.
And take note of pages that have an especially bad bounce rate and/or “avg. session duration”.
google analytics bounce rate and avg sessions duration
Finally, take a look at those pages and improve their UX.

Use High-Quality Images

User ExperienceBeginner
You already know that you need to use images in your content.
But what you may not know is that image quality is a BIG deal. In fact, one study found that pro-quality images got 2x more shares than similar, low-quality images.

Use Keyword-Rich URLs

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes
The results from my experiments are clear: Google pays attention to the keywords that appear in your URL. And why not? Your URL is a strong indicator of what your page is all about.
For example, I have a page that ranks in the top 3 for the keyword “search engine ranking”. As you can see, that keyword ONLY appears in the URL (not in the title tag):
google ranking url

Use Lots of Bullets and Subheadings

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
People will spend more time on your site when you make your content easy to read.
That’s why I avoid the dreaded “wall of text” like the plague. Fortunately, you can easily turn a wall of text into skimmable content with bullets and subheadings:
bullets and subheadings

Use Lots of Multimedia (Not Just Images)

User ExperienceAdvanced
Yes, using at least one image in an article can help your SEO efforts. But there’s a world of multimedia outside of screenshots and stock photos. I’m talking video, infographic, polls, and interactive content.
Because most people only use images, these untapped multimedia tools can turn a would-be bounce into a longer session. And as you may have seen, this can make a HUGE difference in your rankings.

Use Parentheses (Or Brackets) In Your Title Tags

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
Brackets have been shown to significantly boost CTR. That’s why I tend to use them whenever I need to stand out from the pack:
example of parentheses in a title tag

Use Short (1-3 Sentence) Paragraphs

User ExperienceBeginnerYes
Short paragraphs that are “skimmable” significantly boost readability.
That’s why I use (1-3 sentence) paragraphs in every piece of content that I publish:
example of short paragraphs in a piece of content

Use Short Blog Post Introductions (4-9 Sentences)

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
Long intros make people run away from your site like it’s on fire.
I’ve found that short blog post introductions (9 sentences MAX) provide an overview of your content without boring them to tears.
Here’s an example from Backlinko:
short blog post introduction
Yup, that’s a grand total of 5 lines. And the average time on page for that article is 4:27. That’s no coincidence.

Use Short Sentences To Maximize Readability

User ExperienceIntermediate
Want Google searchers to stay on your page longer?
Use. Short. Sentences.

Use Your Keyword In Your Description Tag

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginner
Want to optimize your description tag for clicks? Write a clear and compelling case for why someone should click on your result.
That said, having bold words in your description tag can also boost your CTR. And when you include keywords in your description tag, Google will make it bold:
bolded keywords in description tag

Wow Peeps With Custom Page Designs

On-Page SEO, Link Building, User ExperienceIntermediate
Want to “wow” users (and other bloggers in your industry)?
Publish a page with a custom design. You can go all-out and publish a completely custom page, like this one.
Or you can simply add design elements (like callout boxes) to make your content look cool:
example of callout box
Either way, you’ll increase the perceived value of your content.

Write Awesome Subheaders

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes
The text you use in your subheaders can make or break your page’s dwell time and bounce rate.
You see, most people use dull subheaders like:
“Nutrition and You”
“Google Adwords”
Instead, create eye-catching subheaders that stop your readers in their tracks.
example of awesome subheader

Write Crisply and Clearly

User ExperienceIntermediate
Yes, short sentences and paragraphs make your content easy to read.
But there are other important factors that impact readability…
…like adjectives, use of active voice, and more.
Fortunately, you don’t need a pro editor to optimize your content for readability. The awesome Hemingway app does the job for you:
hemingway app

Offer Unique Content With Visual Content Pitches

Link BuildingIntermediate
Whenever you pitch a piece of visual content — like an infographic, chart or diagram — offer some unique content to go along with it.
In my experience this significantly boosts the odds people will use your visual asset (and link to you).
Here’s an example of this SEO strategy in action (source):

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