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This list was created from Brian Dean's SEO list
Focus On Insanely Actionable Content
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.
Add LSI Keywords to Your Content
Add Text Content To Infographic-Based Blog Posts
Create Unique Titles for Each Page (Seriously)
Don't Waste Time on Easy Links
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.
[ Of course, finding verified email addresses of bloggers should be done using Anymail finder, also check out KindofABigDeal that lists 5,000 bloggers and journalists.
Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags
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
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.
Forget Keyword Density. Focus on Keyword Frequency
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.
This may or may not be a direct Google ranking factor.
Include Keyword Synonyms in H1 and H2 Tags
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
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
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:
That way, my post is ready to be shared whenever the mood strikes you.
Optimize E-commerce Product Pages Like Blog Posts
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)
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
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..
Put Your Keyword Early In Your Title Tag
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:
Relaunch Old Content
Hubspots post on reworking content Optimizing the past
Replace "Published On" Dates with "Last Updated"
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.
Take Advantage of 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
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
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:
Use Google Search Console to Find Title Tag Issues
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.
Use Lots of Images
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)
Use Numbered Lists to Increase The Odds of Getting in The Knowledge Graph
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.
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
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)
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 people for gaming the system with Schema markup.
Use Short URLs
Also, our analysis of 1 million Google search results revealed that shorter URLs tend to perform slightly better in Google than long URLs.
Use This To Get Longer (4-Line) Description Tags
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:
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
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:
the current year
Use Your Keyword In Your First 100 Words
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.
Want More Shares? Use Click To Tweet Buttons
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.
Write Content That Covers a Topic In-Depth
Our search engine ranking factors study found that in-depth content significantly outperformed shallow, surface-level content.
Write Image Alt Text Like a Caption
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.
Always Have a Specific Page And Place For Your Link When Link Building
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:
Become a Regular Columnist on Authority Sites
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:
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
Most universities have a page that links to scholarships, like this:
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
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.
Co-Produce a Piece of Content
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:
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
Earlier this year I published the largest search engine ranking factors study ever.
And it was my first foray into publishing my own data. The result?
Backlinks from nearly 600 different domains.
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
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.
Consolidate Similar Posts Into a Mega Guide
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
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.
Create a Glossary of Terms
For example this glossary of gardening terms has over 300 backlinks (!).
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
More importantly, people love linking to free tools.
For example this retirement calculator has links from 238 domains.
Create Awesome Infographics
Buzzsumo discovered that infographics generate significantly more social shares than your average text-based blog post.
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
It’s harder than ever to publish a successful infographic.
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"
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%:
Don't Bother Guest Posting
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
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
Sure, exact match anchor text can help you rank for a specific word
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
The #1 ranking signal we found in our recent ranking factors study was the number of sites linking to you.
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
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.