17 Powerful Ways to Improve Your SEO

 

Today you’re going to learn EXACTLY how to improve your site’s SEO.

In fact, these 17 techniques helped grow my site’s organic traffic by 21.30% in 3 months:

Three months' Organic Traffic growth

The best part?

Everything here is working GREAT right now (in 2019).

Over the last few weeks I’ve got my site to rank in different Featured Snippets.

And this:

My secret?

A new strategy called “Snippet Bait”.

Here’s how it works:

First, find a keyword that you already rank for.

Why is this important?

According to Ahrefs, 99.58% of Featured Snippets come from the first page results.

So if you’re on page 2, you have pretty much zero chance of getting in a Featured Snippet.

For example, here’s a page from my site that was ranking on page 1.

Backlinko post

Next, look at the Featured Snippet at the top of the SERPs:

Featured snippet

And identify what TYPE of Featured Snippet you’re looking at:

  • Definition Snippet (“What is content marketing?”)
  • List Snippet (“Top 10 Content Marketing Tools”)
  • Table Snippet (“Content Marketing Tool Prices”)

Finally, add a snippet of content to your page that’s designed to fit inside that Featured Snippet box.

(This is the “Snippet Bait”)

For example, a while back I wanted to get in the Featured Snippet for the keyword “nofollow links”.

So I wrote a little section that would fit PERFECTLY inside of a Featured Snippet box:

And it worked! About 2 weeks later, the section I wrote was at the top of the search results.

Nice.

2. Improve Dwell Time With This Simple Step Content

Is Dwell Time a Google ranking factor?

In my opinion: YES.

After all, if someone quickly bounces from your page, it sends a clear message to Google: people hate that page.

And they’ll quickly downrank it:

Low dwell time = Lower rankings

The question is:

How do you prevent people from bouncing?

Embed videos on your page.

For example, I recently compared my bounce rate for a sample of pages with and without a video.

And pages with video had an 11.2% better bounce rate than pages without a video:

Average bounce rate

That’s why I embed videos in almost every new post that I write.

Sometimes I make the video an entire step or tip:

Or as a way for people to learn more about a specific topic:

Which leads us to…

3. Find Low-Competition Keywords With “Ghost Posts”

Here’s the truth:

Most “Keyword Competition” scores are WAY off.

That’s because most of them focus 100% on one metric: .

Are backlinks important?

Heck yeah!

But backlinks are only one piece of the puzzle. First page rankings are also based on:

  • Organic click-through-rate
  • Search Intent
  • Page speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Lots more

That’s why I now ignore most keyword competition scores.

Instead, I use “Ghost Posts”.

For example:

A few months back I wanted to rank for the keyword: “Free SEO Tools”.

According to Ahrefs, this keyword is “Super Hard” to rank for:

Instead of giving up, I decided to test this keyword’s difficulty with a new technique: The Ghost Post.

Specifically, I whipped up a quick post and published it on the 4th page of my blog feed.

Backlinko post

In other words: I didn’t promote the post in any way (hence the name: “Ghost Post”).

To my surprise, I cracked the first page for long tail versions of my keyword (like “best free SEO tools”) within a week or so:

SEMrush – Organic Search Results for

And I even started to pop in and out of page 1 for my target keyword.

That’s when I decided to promote the post on social media:

Backlinko Twitter post

And give the content a much-needed upgrade.

As it turns out, this “Super Hard” keyword was ridiculously easy to rank for.

In fact, I now rank #1 for that keyword:

Google rankings for

Even though my page has WAY fewer backlinks than the other first page results:

Backlinks comparison of

(Note: I’m not bashing Ahrefs’s Keyword Difficulty score. I’m just showing you another way to figure out keyword difficulty).

With that, it’s time for…

4. Use Sitelinks to Boost Your Organic CTR

Last year I decided to make Organic CTR a top priority.

But I quickly ran into a problem:

Besides optimizing your title and description for clicks, how can you push more people to click on your result?

Sitelinks.

You probably already have sitelinks underneath your result when you search for your brand in Google.

Backlinko sitelinks in Google Search

As it turns out, you can ALSO get sitelinks on all sorts of pages… from blog posts to ecommerce category pages.

And these sitelinks can make a BIG dent in your click-through-rate.

How do you get sitelinks?

A table of contents.

For example, when I published this post, I added a table of contents with “jump links” to each tip.

And once my page cracked the top 5, Google hooked me up with sitelinks.

Sitelinks in Google for

As you can see, these sitelinks REALLY help my result stand out.

In fact, sitelinks are one of the reasons my page has a 14.9% CTR.

“How to get more YouTube subscribers” CTR

Here’s the deal:

People don’t link to “great content”.

They link to sources.

For example, I published this guide to the Google Search Console last year.

Backlinko post

And I’m not afraid to say that it qualifies as “great content”.

The post is full of actionable tips:

Actionable tips from

It even has a custom design:

Google Search Console post – Custom design

Despite being a very solid piece of content, it only has 159 referring domain links:

Referring Domains for

On the other hand, check out this voice search study I published around the same time:

Backlinko post

Most people would also call this post “great content”.

But this piece of content has referring domain links:

Referring Domains for

(79% MORE backlinks than my GSC guide).

What’s going on here?

Well, my Google Search Console guide isn’t that easy for someone to link to.

Unless you’re writing about the GSC and want to send someone to a resource to “learn more”, there’s no compelling reason to link to my guide.

On the other hand, my voice search study gives bloggers and journalists data that they can EASILY reference.

Search Engine Journal mention of Backlinko

Which has led to hundreds of high-quality backlinks.

6. Target Keywords With BIG Commercial Intent

When I first got started with keyword research I’d focus 100% on search volume.

If a keyword got a bunch of searches, I’d say: “that’s good enough for me!”.

Not anymore.

Today, I put A LOT of weight on commercial intent.

(In other words: how much are Google Ads advertisers spending on those clicks?)

For example, I recently started targeting keywords like “link building services”.

Backlinko post

This keyword doesn’t get that many searches:

But with a CPC of $25.00, I know that the traffic is made up of legit buyers:

(Fun fact: I published this page as a “Ghost Post”. As it turns out, “link building services” is MUCH less competitive than most tools claim)

Google rankings for

Found an AWESOME keyword that converts well for you?

Get bonus traffic from that term with a YouTube video.

For example, this post is targeting the keyword “how to get more traffic”.

Backlinko post

Unfortunately, I’m stuck in the #4 spot.

Google rankings for

To make matters worse, I’m cramped below 3 video results.

Stuck under video results in Google SERPs

(But I’m working on it 🙂 )

In the meantime, I decided to create a video on that topic.

And because I optimized my video the right way, it takes up valuable real estate at the top of Google’s search results:

Google video results for

Want to see how I optimized that video? Check out this quick tutorial:

8. Rank for “Topic + Statistics” Keywords

This is the dirty little secret that lots of sites use to get LOTS of backlinks on autopilot.

For example, Student Loan Hero has over 21.1K links to its “US Student Loan Statistics” page:

Backlinks for Student Loan Debt Statistics page

Here’s how they did it (and why this approach works so well):

First, they identified a topic that bloggers and journalists tend to write about.

(In this case, stats about student loan debt)

Then, they created a page that curated stats from different sources.

Student Loan Debt Statistics page

Finally, they optimized that page around the keyword: “Student Loan Debt Statistics”.

Which now ranks on the first page for that term:

Google rankings for

Why does this work so well?

Think about it:

Who searches for “Topic + Statistics” keywords?

Journalists!

Specifically, journalists looking for stats to include in their articles.

And when you rank for that term, you’re going to get linked to like there’s no tomorrow.

Very cool.

9. Optimize Old Content For User Intent

I’ve talked about matching your content to search intent before.

User Intent section from Skyscraper Technique post

But the bottom line is this:

If your site isn’t what searchers want, Google won’t rank it.

(No matter how many links you have)

For example, I first published this post in 2015:

Old Backlinko post

As you can probably guess, my target keyword for that page was “SEO Campaign”.

And I quickly carved out a spot on the middle of the first page of Google for that term.

But one day my rankings and organic traffic started to drop.

Google Analytics – Shot of Backlinko traffic drop

This wasn’t a super high-priority keyword. So I just kind of ignored the problem and hoped it would go away.

It didn’t.

That’s when I realized that my content was a HORRIBLE fit for user intent.

Specifically, my post didn’t outline an SEO campaign. Instead, I talked about a single strategy (“Guestographics”):

Snippet about Guestographics from SEO Campaign post

So I went back to the drawing board. And I rewrote the post from scratch.

This time, I made sure to publish something that someone searching for “SEO campaign” would love.

Sure enough, the new version of the post now ranks #1 for that term:

Google rankings for

10. Content Partnerships

I’m a BIG fan of Content Partnerships.

Why?

Because it makes your content promotion twice as powerful.

Think about it:

When you publish something on your site, you send as many people as you can to your post.

Single-author content has limited reach

But you’re only one person (or company). So your reach is pretty limited.

But when you partner with someone else, BOTH of you send people to your new content:

Content partnerships increase your content's reach

Which doubles the amount of eyeballs, links and social media shares that you get.

For example, earlier this year I partnered with BuzzSumo to create this content marketing study.

Backlinko post

And because we both promoted it to our audiences, it got A TON of traffic:

Google Analytics – Traffic for Content Study post

11. Repurpose Content Into Different Formats

Last year I realized that I was making a HUGE mistake.

The mistake?

Every time I sat down to write a new blog post, email newsletter or video script… I was starting from scratch.

Which meant it would sometimes take me to finish a single blog post.

That’s when I realized something…

I already had TONS of content on my YouTube channel. Content that people loved.

So I decided to base my next blog post on a popular video from my channel: a video about getting more YouTube subscribers.

It took some time to turn my video into a blog post.

Conversion of

But it was 10x faster than starting with a blank Google Doc.

The best part?

My post did GREAT.

That post brings in 15,701 search engine visitors per month.

Search engine traffic for

And it currently ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

Google rankings for

Pretty cool.

12. Double Down On Broken Link Building

I already published a guide to Broken Link Building.

So I’m not going to go over the process again here.

Instead, I’m going to show how I used Broken Link Building to get this sweet backlink:

Time Doctor – Backlink

First, I looked for a piece of content on my site that I KNEW people would want to link to. And I chose this CRO guide:

CRO Guide

Next, I found a site that wrote about content marketing. And popped their homepage URL into Ahrefs.

Time Doctor in Ahrefs

And clicked on “Outgoing Links” → “Broken links”:

Ahrefs – Outgoing links – Broken links menu

Which showed me all of that site’s broken external links:

Broken links for Time Doctor in Ahrefs

Once I found a broken link that was similar to my guide, I reached out to the person that runs their blog. I let them know about their broken link and offered my content as a replacement:

Brian's outreach email to Time Doctor

And because I added value with my outreach, they happily linked to me:

TimeDoctor's reply to outreach email

That’s all there is to it.

13. Find Backlink Opportunities With “Link Intersect”

It’s no secret that reverse engineering is a GREAT link building strategy.

But it’s not perfect.

After all, let’s say you find a site that just linked to your competitor.

You have no idea if that site linked to them because they have an existing relationship, they just sent an awesome outreach email… or a million other reasons.

But when you look at who links to MULTIPLE competitors, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.

(After all, what are the odds that the site has a relationship with three different sites that it links to?).

That’s where Link Intersect comes into play.

To use it, fire up good ol’ Ahrefs and enter three domains into their Link Intersect tool:

Ahrefs – Link intersect homescreen for Moz, Ahrefs and SiegeMedia

And make sure to put your site in the “But doesn’t link to” field:

Ahrefs – Link intersect

And voila!

You’ll see everyone that links to these 3 sites… but doesn’t link to you.

Ahrefs – Link intersection results screen

And if your site publishes better content than your competitors, there’s a really good chance these peeps will link to you too.

14. Target Brand New Keywords

Want to find popular, low-competition keywords?

Of course you do 🙂

Question is:

How?!

Target NEW keywords.

I’ll explain…

Most keywords are competitive for the simple reason that there are LOTS of sites trying to rank for them.

But when you target new terms, you’re competing with fewer people.

Which means you can often rocket your way to the top of the search results.

For example, last summer I created a guide optimized around the growing term “Voice Search”:

Backlinko post

Because the term “Voice Search” was relatively new (especially compared to old school keywords in my niche like “link building”), my guide cracked the bottom of the first page within a week.

And it currently ranks #2 in Google for that term:

Google rankings for

15. Use Concept Visuals

This is a way to get high-quality backlinks WITHOUT having to grind with outreach.

In fact, I’ve used this approach to get links like this:

Image backlink from Monitor Backlinks blog post

And this:

Image backlink from Convince and Convert post

All without sending a single outreach email.

With that, here are the steps:

First, create an AWESOME visual that helps people understand a tricky concept or idea.

This can be a graph, chart, visualization or table.

Here’s an example:

Next, feature that visual in your content.

And if the right person sees your visual, they’ll use it on their site:

Rinse and repeat for every post that you publish.

Pro Tip: Focus on creating visuals for NEW topics. That way, you’ll be one of the few sites with a high-quality visual of that topic.

16. Hack Industry Glossaries for Keyword Ideas

Need some outside-the-box keyword ideas?

Check out industry glossaries.

For example, this nutrition glossary covers 100+ different terms:

NutritionData – Glossary section

You can either straight up copy these keywords into a spreadsheet.

Or use them as seed keywords and pop them into a keyword research tool.

Either way, glossaries are an AWESOME way to find new keyword ideas.

Pro Tip: Pop the glossary URL into the Google Keyword Planner for a mega list of keyword ideas:

Mega list of keyword ideas from Keyword Planner

17. Get Backlinks From Content Curators

Most people struggle with outreach because they send garbage like this:

Bad outreach email

There’s a lot wrong with this outreach email.

But the biggest issue is that I don’t have a place on my site where a link to their content makes sense.

So I hit “Delete”.

That person would have had a lot more luck reaching out to a Content Curator.

Content Curators are just like they sound: people that curate their industry’s best stuff.

For example, you might have seen the SEO Marketing Hub that I created a few months back:

Backlinko – SEO Marketing Hub

Well, because I got my content in front of Content Curators, I was able to get a handful of links to my site like this:

SEO Marketing Hub - Backlink from AuthorityAlchemy's link roundup

No arm twisting required.

Bonus #1: Find Question Keywords With Question DB

QuestionDB is like Answer the Public.

QuestionDB – Homepage

But in my opinion it’s actually a little bit better.

Why?

First of all, it’s MUCH easier to use.

Unlike Answer the Public, with crazy charts and images of some bearded dude, the questions are laid out in a simple table.

QuestionDB – Report for

And because QuestionDB focuses on questions that people ask on Reddit, you can find keyword and topic ideas that most other tools won’t show you.

QuestionDB – Report for

Bonus #2: Rank For Brand Name Terms

Low competition.

High volume.

Great CPC.

I’m talking about brand name terms.

For example, look at these two keywords:

Branded .vs. Unbranded search volumes

That’s right: Mailchimp gets searched for 280x more than “email marketing software”.

And it’s the same story with most categories:

The brand gets WAY more searches than the topic or category.

(The one big downside of targeting brand names is that you’ll never rank #1. But it can still be totally worth it)

That’s why I’ve started to publish content designed to rank for brand names.

For example, I have this BuzzStream review post on my site.

Backlinko post BuzzStream Outreach

Not only does my page rank for “BuzzStream Review”:

Google rankings for

But it also ranks high up on the first page for the popular brand keyword “BuzzStream”.

Google rankings for

Now It’s Your Turn…

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which of the 17 SEO strategies from today’s post are you going to try first?

Are you going to target brand keywords?

Or maybe you want to try Snippet Bait.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post 17 Powerful Ways to Improve Your SEO (In 2019) appeared first on Backlinko.

This content was originally published here.

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