150+ Best SEO Hacks for Improve Google SEO Ranking 2019
One of the strongest ranking factors has been flying under the radar, overlooked by many SEO professionals in their optimization checklists, leaving a golden opportunity for those that know about it. I’m talking about readability.
Google has been outspoken about readability as an important consideration for webmasters. Google’s former head of web spam, Matt Cutts, publicly stated that poorly researched and misspelled content will rank poorly, and clarity should be your focus.
And by readability, this means not just avoiding spelling mistakes, but making your content readable for the widest possible audience, with simple language and sentence structures.
Flesch readability has since surfaced in the Search metrics Google ranking factors report, showing a high correlation between high ranking sites and easy to read content.
The Search metrics rankings report discovered sites appearing in the top 10 showed an average Flesch reading score of 76.00—content that is fairly easy to read for 13-15-year-old students and up.
It makes sense readability is a concern for Google. By encouraging search results to have content readable to a wide audience, Google maximizes their advertising revenues.
If Google were to encourage complicated results that mostly appeal to a smaller demographic, such as post-graduates, it would lower Google's general appeal and their market share.
In this blog, I will explain how You can achieve an on-page SEO boost and improve Google SEO ranking in 2019 with best 150+ new hacks, while also increasing your user engagement, by making your content readable to a wide audience.
Run your content through a Flesch readability test. It will look at your word and sentence usage, and give you a score on how readable it is.
Scores between 90-100 are easily understood by an 11-year-old student, 60-70 easily understood by 13 to 15-year-old students, and 0-30 best understood by University graduates.
You can use the free tool below and should aim for a readability score between 60-100. To improve your score, edit your content to use fewer words per sentence, and use words with a smaller number of syllables.
Readability Score https://readable.io/
How to accelerate traffic and rankings with fresh content
One of the most powerful on-page SEO strategies is adding more unique, fresh content to your site. If you consistently add new pages to your site, you are going to receive more traffic. In fact, not only can you increase your traffic, you can receive an exponential traffic increase as you publish more content.
It’s a no-brainer when you think about it. This is why blogs, publishing, and news-type sites consistently get good results in search engines. More content means more rankings, more visitors, and more sales. Let’s look at getting started with improving your traffic by adding fresh content.
Post new content on a regular schedule
If you are going to add new content to your site, you need to decide on a schedule and stick to it. This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at a large number of businesses that talk about starting a blog and never get around to it.
It’s the businesses with a regular roster of adding content to their site that see regular increases in search rankings, increases in overall search engine performance, and a growing loyal audience.
Without a dedicated roster or schedule, it will never get done. If you don’t have the capacity to create content yourself, or a budget to hire a full-time marketing assistant to create content, try hiring a ghostwriter.
Good quality writers can be sourced between $25-$75 USD per article and you can regularly churn out fresh content to your heart’s content. Popular services can put you in touch with talented writers, such as Textbroker or the Problogger job board.
Problogger Job Board http://jobs.problogger.net
Leverage your social media accounts
It almost goes without saying, but you should be leveraging social media to drive traffic to new posts or pages added to your site.
Whenever you post new content, post it across all of your social media accounts. Then post it again in a couple of days and you will expose your content to a different segment of fans. You’ll increase your social activity and as a result get higher rankings.
Link up your site to blog aggregators
Blog directories are an easy opportunity for high-quality backlinks, available for anyone running a blog. A handful of large authority blog directories accept site submissions and syndicate content—an opportunity to build up referral traffic.
Simply ensure you have a base level of content to start, and then submit your site. A link to your blog can be approved within a week or two.
Here’s a handful of high-quality blog directories accepting submissions:
How to Target Featured Snippet Rankings in Google’s search results
Ever searched in Google and saw your answer featured in a giant ranking sitting just above the search results?
These large search results are called "featured snippets" and can send a mind-blowing amount of traffic if you're clever enough to achieve one of these types of rankings. While achieving a featured snippet can be difficult, there's a couple of techniques for achieving one of these rankings.
Before I jump into the techniques, are you still not sure what I'm talking about? Quickly Google a couple of questions and look for the giant search result that answers your question at the top of the search results, you can't miss it—it's about three times bigger than a regular search result.
Here are some example searches that usually deliver a featured snippet in the results, “how to get started in real estate”, “how to increase your blog traffic”, and so on...
Featured snippets can be tricky because there is no special code or tag you can use for these according to Google, quite simply, your answer needs to provide a great answer for your audience, or at least Google needs to see it that way.
Fortunately for us, some clever SEOs have figured out some general techniques and criteria for targeting these sexy rankings.
1. Your desired ranking must be for a question type keyword. Searches that aren't phrased as a question generally won't trigger a featured snippet, so better to focus on question-related keywords.
2. Your page must be performing okay generally. You don't necessarily need to be ranking in the top position, but if you're ranking on page 2 or page 3, it's unlikely you'll achieve the featured snippet ranking, if this is the case, first focus on ranking higher. If you're already ranking around positions 1-4, then you have a greater chance of being featured.
3. Your answer should be clear and concise. It almost goes without saying, well-written and clear answers have a much greater chance of being featured then poorly written answers.
4. Provide more valuable information than a simple and direct answer. If your answer has numbered lists, rich media such as images and videos, and is generally more helpful than an obvious answer to the question, then you have a greater chance of being featured.
5. Include a Q&A or how-to section on your site. Increase content in a question and answer format and increase your odds of being featured for several pages.
Want to read up further on featured snippets? Eric Enge from Stone Temple Consulting provided a great write up on his studies and techniques ranking for featured snippets.
How to Get Featured Snippets For Your Site http://searchengineland.com/get-featured-snippets-site-224959 That sums it up for the on-page SEO blog.
If you have a small business, the technical factors mentioned earlier in this blog are what will make the difference—such as ensuring your site has the right keywords and is accessible for all users.
If you are doing SEO for a large company and need a large amount of traffic, regularly publishing new content and ensuring structural areas of your site are setup correctly are what will make the difference—such as regularly posting new blog posts, ensuring you have sitemaps working correctly, and no duplicate content or 404 errors.
What’s most important is you act. On-page SEO is often the easiest part of SEO. The power is in your hands to fix these areas in your site. Remember small changes can lead to big results. Put these methods to practice and start improving your rankings.
Just like the keyword research steps, for readers who want to put the theory into practice, all on-page optimization tips from this blog are included in the SEO checklist. I recommend finishing the blog before downloading the checklist and the on-page SEO steps, so you are familiar with the theory behind the practical steps.
Link building. How to rank extremely high on Google
Why is link building so important
The previous blog described how to make your site visible to search engines and how to optimize keywords by using on-page SEO. If you want to see your rankings improve by leaps and bounds, then your site needs links.
You may have wondered what makes link building so important, especially when there are so many factors Google use to rank sites. The truth is, links are such a strong factor, it is unlikely you will rank high for a keyword if you are competing against sites with more backlinks.
When you think about it, links are the currency of the web. Each time a page links to another, it is a vote for the value of the page being linked to.
If a page provides massive value to Internet users, it stands to reason it will be linked to from other sites. This is why links are such a strong factor in Google's algorithm.
Link building is the key to ranking your site high in the search engine results.
The dirty little secret no one wants to tell you about link building
There are a lot of opinions circulating the Internet about the best kind of links to build to your site. So much so, they often escalate into heated discussions.
What is the best link? A link from a government site or from a high trafficked blog? Is it better to get a link from a highly relevant site or from a site with a lot of social media activity?
The dirty secret no-one wants to tell you about link building is there is no single best kind of link.
If this weren’t the case, Google wouldn't work. Everyone would go out and find a way to spam their way to the top of the rankings very quickly. Having thousands of one type of link pointing to a page is suspicious and a clear sign the site owner is gaming the system.
That said, as a rule, you should try to build links on authoritative, relevant and high-quality sites. High-quality, relevant links are much stronger than links from low-quality, unrelated sites.
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How to acquire links and what to avoid in link building
There are many stories floating around about business owners being slammed by Google for no good reason. Don't let the horror stories mislead you.
In most cases, what really happened is the webmaster was doing something clearly suspicious or outdated, like building thousands of links to their site from link directories, and then their rankings suddenly dropped off from Google's top 10 search results.
If you don't exhibit overly spammy behavior in your link building, as a general rule you will be OK. These best practices will ensure you acquire links correctly and don't break
Google's terms of service
1. Acquire links naturally and evenly over time. Your links should be attained consistently and organically.
In fact, Google has made its approach with assessing link acquisition in relation to time public knowledge. Patent US20050071741 outlines how Google analyzes the age of links and the rate they are acquired and then uses this information to calculate the search results.
If you don’t fancy reading up on patents in your spare time, then just remember to gradually build up your links over time, so Google sees that your website is acquiring links organically. Don't go out and buy one thousand links pointing to your site overnight or you’re sure to set off a red flag in Google’s system and get into its bad blogs.
2. As a rule, don't purchase links. Buying links with the intention of boosting your rankings are against Google's terms of service and you risk being penalized. These kinds of links may work but are generally not worth the potential damage unless you are confident you know what you are doing.
3. Forget about link-swapping or link-trading schemes. These are completely obvious to Google, and either no longer work or may harm your site.
This goes against common knowledge, but I've achieved countless number one rankings for ridiculously competitive keywords without ever swapping links. Link-swapping is extremely time-consuming and completely unnecessary. Get by without it.
4. Don't spam message boards, article sites or blog comments with crappy content. This might work temporarily, but strategies such as these are outdated very quickly.
5. There are paid networks out there offering to build new links to your site for a low monthly fee each month. Never use them. These networks are against Google’s terms of service and using them is a quick way to ensure you find yourself in hot water with Google.
Anchor text. What's all the fuss
There has been some controversy around anchor text, as touched on in a previous blog. Anchor text is the text contained in a link. Anchor text was one of the strongest factors for achieving top rankings.
If you had one thousand links to your site with “NFL football jerseys” as the link text, and competitors only had a handful of links with the same anchor text, it was likely you would rank number one.
That is until Google’s Penguin update effectively put an end for SEOs using “exact match” anchor text as their strategy. Now it is just simply too risky.
Not only is it no longer as effective as it once was, building hundreds of “exact match” links to a site actually can prevent it from ranking for that keyword.
So then, you might wonder, what is the best way to build up anchor text? It should be natural.
It is OK to have your targeted keyword in your anchor text, but it should not be the only keyword or the main keyword in all of your links, and there should be a mix of related keywords.
If you think about it, this is a pattern all legitimate sites naturally attract. It defies logic that a quality site would automatically be linked with the exact same text throughout the entire World Wide Web.
Look over the below examples to see a bad anchor text profile compared to a natural anchor text profile:
Bad anchor text – external links http://www.examplefootballbrand.com/football-jerseys.html NFL football jerseys - 200 links
Good anchor text http://www.examplefootballbrand.com/football-jerseys.html
examplefootballbrand - 50 links
NFL football jersey store - 10 links
NFL football jerseys - 5 links
Example Domain - 25 links
football jersey store - 5 links
football jerseys online - 5 links
football jacket store - 15 links
click here - 7 links
website - 15 links
The above good anchor text example illustrates the natural way sites accumulate links over time. Your target keyword should not be the most linked phrase to the page.
You can learn a lot by looking at the search engine results ranking in Google, enter high-ranking sites into Open Site Explorer, and looking at their anchor text. You'll notice almost every top-ranking page has natural anchor text, like the good example above.
Track your link-building efforts and keep them in a spreadsheet. This way you can monitor your anchor text and make sure it fits in with best practices. Open Site Explorer https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/
Simple to advanced link building strategies
The link building strategies below will help you build up quality links pointing to your site, and give Google a nudge to rank your site higher, ranging from simple tactics for the small business, right up to the enterprise-level SEO agency looking to roll out links on a large scale.
Directory links are a tried and true form of link building that received some flack in recent years. This is due to Google penalizing spammers who built ridiculous amounts of low-quality directory links to their site.
Directory links shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, directory links should be the first place to start with any link building project. There’s a solid amount of high-quality business directories where you can get powerful and strong backlinks built with a minimum of effort.
But just to be safe, your directory links should not make up much more than 10-20% of your total links. They must also be relevant and quality sites, i.e. not sites with web addresses like http://seolinksdirectory.com or http://freelinksdirectory.com.
Sites like these just smell of spam! Before building a link on a directory, ask yourself, “Does this look like a legitimate and trustworthy website?” If the answer is no, then move on and focus on legitimate, quality sites only.
To find relevant directories, use the below search terms in Google, replacing “keyword” with your targeted keyword or industry, and you can find relevant directories for your niche:
keyword + submit
keyword + add url
keyword + add link
keyword + directory
keyword + resources
Here is a short list of business directories to get you started:
Stealing competitor’s links
Stealing competitor’s links is an old-school tactic receiving a resurgence in recent times, due to Google’s increased focus on links from quality sites, making it more difficult to find easy link opportunities.
If your competitor has done all the heavy lifting, why not take advantage of their hard work. Use the below sites to export your competitors’ backlinks.
By looking through their links you can often find link opportunities to build links pointing to your site. In most cases, you can be confident you are going after SEO-friendly link sources if the competitor is already ranking well in Google.
Video link building
Google loves videos, and it especially loves videos from video powerhouse YouTube. Probably because Google owns YouTube… If you want the opportunity to capture visitors from the world's largest video search engine, posting videos will considerably help your SEO.
Post relevant how-to guides, industry news updates and instructional videos for the best response from users. Then link to the relevant pages on your site in the description.
The key to success in video link building is to ensure the video and your description are related. You should aim to have your targeted keyword or relevant keywords on the page somewhere.
And don't worry. Your video doesn't have to be on par with the latest Martin Scorsese masterpiece. It can be a simple 5 or 10-minute video, educating visitors with useful knowledge about your topic. Just focus on making it contribute value to the viewer. The tools below can help with quickly creating videos and uploading them to the web.
CamStudio is a free, open source screen recording software allowing you to record high-quality screencasts from your own computer. You can download the video files in high quality after you have finished.
This product only works on Windows, Mac users may need to find an alternative like using Quicktime Player’s native screen recording function or an app like Camtasia.
High-quality sites you can easily visit, upload videos and get backlinks from:
Link bait is a new and effective strategy for building high-quality and powerful links on a large scale. Link bait is great because you create content once, but you can have thousands of people over the Internet sharing and link to your content, while you sit back and put your feet up. But what is link bait exactly?
Link bait is any kind of compelling content that naturally acquires links from other sites as a result.
While there is an art to creating linkbait successfully, you would be surprised how easy it is to earn links and social media activity with this strategy. The key is, your content must be so valuable it would almost be worth paying for.
To create this content, you should use your expertise or even hire researchers to put together juicy industry content that lends itself to being shared. If there are already 10 blog posts or whitepapers on the same topic, then you’re doing it wrong. Try and make it original, substantial and useful.
Wrap up this content into a whitepaper, top 10 lists, an easy to understand infographic, or a downloadable resource and make it compelling enough for visitors to read and share.
Promote this content heavily through your site and social media accounts. Encourage readers to share the post at the bottom of the content. Make sharing the content as easy as possible and you will maximize results.
Next up, find popular link bait in your industry or niche. Then use a link analysis tool such as Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer to pull a list of sites linking to the popular content. Send out a quick email blast to site owners and bloggers to let them know about your bigger and much better resource.
If you really want to take link baiting to the next level, write and publish a compelling press release about your link bait content. With a press release, it can be exposed to thousands of journalists and potentially has a chance of attracting media coverage.
You might be wondering what a successful link baiting campaign looks like. I've listed examples below:
Joost de Valk is well known in the SEO industry, in some part due to his one-page guide to WordPress SEO that is updated every month or so. This guide has earned many links and shares over many years.
101 Motivational Business Quotes http://www.quicksprout.com/2009/12/07/101-motivational-business-quotes/
An excellent example of a great link bait article that went viral, and could be outsourced for pennies on the dollar.
Types of link bait:
Top 10 lists
Pictochart Free to start http://www.piktochart.com
Great service for infographic generation, has an easy drag and drop interface to put infographics together in minutes.
Prlog offers entry-level free press release syndication services, with additional coverage for an added fee.
Many PR firms will simply write a press release and then release it to PRNewswire and charge a premium for doing so. Cut out the middleman, write up your press release yourself, and you can get massive PR for a fraction of the cost of hiring a PR agent. Packages start at $425 USD and scale up for increased syndication.
Finding guest post opportunities
Guest posting has become standard practice for many link builders, for its effectiveness in getting high-quality and highly-relevant and contextual links—the type of links Google loves.
Finding guest post opportunities is fairly straightforward. Simply do a few Google searches with the following search terms and you'll find some quality placements.
This strategy does require that yourself or your writer produce articles with a reasonable standard of quality... Articles that are well-written, researched, articulated, and preferably citing sources, are more likely to get social shares and high user engagement—which will increase the strength of the links.
Further, if you have a reasonable sized social platform behind you—the editor or site owner might be more enticed to post your blog post.
On the other hand, if you try this strategy on a large scale with cheap, poorly-written outsourced articles with bad grammar, providing little benefit for users, it's possible you could harm your rankings. Quality is critical for a successful guest posting strategy.
Try the following search queries in Google, replacing “keyword” with your industry, niche or topic, for finding guest post opportunities. And use the Google Chrome extension, Link Clump, to copy and paste the search results into a spreadsheet, so you can reach out to the blogs for a guest post placement—which will be covered later in this blog.
keyword "guest post by"
keyword "guest post"
keyword "guest article"
keyword "guest author"
keyword "guest contributor"
Link Clump https://tinyurl.com/link-clump-chrome
Broken link building
Broken link building is a new, but effective strategy. With this new strategy, you can reach out to quality sites with broken links on their pages, and use this as an opportunity to convince the site administrator to provide an updated link to your site.
When you find a broken link, let them know the broken link exists and you have an alternative resource on your site that will benefit their readers. With this strategy, you should create a linkable resource on your site. This makes it very easy for the webmaster to point the link to your replacement.
Use the formulas below to find potential pages with broken links, replacing “keyword” with the keyword you are targeting:
keyword useful links
keyword useful resources
keyword useful sites
keyword recommended links
keyword recommended sites
keyword suggested links
keyword suggested resources
keyword suggested sites
keyword more resources
keyword more sites
keyword related links
keyword related resources
keyword related sites
If you want to automate this process, the service below will do the heavy lifting, and give you a list of sites with broken links and contact details so you can quickly reach out to the webmaster.
Broken link building http://www.brokenlinkbuilding.com
This tool is comprehensive but comes at a price. By typing in keywords you are targeting, the broken link building tool will find a solid amount of broken link opportunities. Saves time and finds quality opportunities.
Broken brand mentions
Broken brand mentions are a fast, simple and reliable form of link building you can use for almost every SEO project. It goes like this: in some cases when someone mentions your brand they forget to post a link.
Track mentions of your brand, and where suitable, reach out and ask for a link back to your site. Use the below tools to track mentions of your brand. If you see a mention of your brand without a link, send a quick email to the author, and they will often be happy to link to your site.
Brand monitoring sites I’ve found useful: Social Mention -Free to try http://www.socialmention.com
Social Mention is a very powerful brand monitoring tool. At the writing of this blog, you cannot receive email alerts. Social Mention is completely free and powerful, so it’s worth checking out.
Mention - Free to try, pricing starts at £29 per month. https://en.mention.com
Mention is a powerful brand-monitoring tool that will send an email alert when your brand is mentioned online, so you can respond quickly.
Paid links are against Google’s terms-of-service, these below link building tactics do work and can fly under the radar. Needless to say, if you’re feeling daring, you’ve been warned and I take no responsibility for what happens as a result of paid link strategies.
Donate to charities & non-profits
Charities and non-profits sites often have a donors’ page. Search for “site:.org + donors” or “site:.org + sponsors” in Google for a list of organizations that have these pages, offer a donation, and request a listing on the page.
Better Business Bureau
Links from the Better Business Bureau are among the best links you can receive. Better Business Bureau links will pass authority and trust. Check your listing to see if you are already linking back to your site, and if you’re not already a member, then consider signing up.
Link Outreach—Scaling Up high-quality link building campaigns
Link outreach is a common and powerful link technique in use by SEO professionals these days, and for good reason—it's an effective way to scale up your high-quality and relevant links.
What to avoid with link outreach campaigns
Before we jump into link outreach techniques, Google publicly stated guidelines on this practice and it's important to know what to avoid, so you don't get into Google's naughty blog.
Here's a direct quote of the combination of factors Google considers bad-practice, as discussed in their guidelines published in May 2017, about large-scale article campaigns:
Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles.
Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites.
Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on.
Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=‘canonical’ and rel=‘nofollow’ is advised).
The guidelines are a little vague… The reason being, Google can't completely outlaw guest-posting, nor can they outlaw site owners talking with other site owners to collaborate—that would hardly be fair and an over-reach on Google's part.
Google are mostly concerned the articles are relevant, high-quality, posted on relevant sites, aren't stuffed with extreme numbers of links pointing to your site, and you're not annoying a billion site owners with spammy personalized email blasts filling up their inboxes. Avoid these practices, and you'll avoid getting a slap by Mr. Google.
Here are the official guidelines from the guys over at Google HQ if you want to read up further.
A reminder about links in large-scale article campaigns - Google Webmaster Central Blog https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/05/a-reminder-about-links-in-large-scale.html
Steps to link outreach campaigns
Typically, there are two steps for link outreach campaigns:
1.Prospecting - finding link opportunities and finding contact information.
2. Outreach - writing and sending emails, follow-ups, replies and managing relationships.
We've already covered link opportunities, such as looking through competitor’s backlinks and finding guest post opportunities, so let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of finding contact information and conducting a link outreach campaign.
Finding contact information
Finding contact information is easy with the right tools. First, you can use a standalone tool for automatically finding contact details on sites while browsing through link opportunities, like Find email addresses in seconds.
• Hunter (Email Hunter)'s very handy Chrome extension which automatically finds contact details for you, or you can make things simple and try an all-in-one email outreach platform covered in the next section, that both find contact details and sends emails.
Secondly, you should track all your link opportunities in a spreadsheet or Google Doc, and make sure you leave a personal note for each link opportunity, which will be later dynamically inserted into your email (more on this later).
Hunter is purely focused on finding contact details and very good at it. It has a nice Chrome plugin that shows you the contact details it can find for a particular site while browsing. Free plans include up to 100-contact information requests, for more contact requests plans start at $39 per month.
Whichever outreach platform you use, you should always ensure your email is personalized in some way. This includes addressing the author or editor by name, mentioning a recent article that captured your interest, a similarity between your websites, or how you have a particular resource or topic that aligns with something the site owner is passionate about.
Leave a note of this in your spreadsheet while reviewing opportunities...
Remember, there's a big difference between contacting a site owner with a relevant, personalized email and a mutually-beneficial opportunity for collaboration, and a big spammy email blast to a thousand site owners with the same email template—which could quickly get you in hot water with Google. Don’t skip the personalization.
Outreach platforms and scheduling emails
There's a growing number of outreach platforms due to the increasing popularity of this technique. Here are some popular options on the market.
Some only send emails, others offer end-to-end outreach campaign management, including finding prospects, contact details, sending emails, automated follow-ups, the whole kit, and caboodle. Anyways, here they are.
Mailshake A simple solution for email outreach
Mailshake is pure-outreach. You will need to provide contact information yourself. It is very effective at sending personalized email campaigns, and you can import personalization info including name, address and a personal message via a csv file. Includes automatic follow-ups, email template libraries, and more. Plans start at $19 per month.
Link Building and Digital PR Tools - BuzzStream
Buzzstream is the darling of many link builders and content marketers. It is an end-to-end outreach platform, meaning it can find contact details, send emails, track relationships, and more.
Buzzstream doesn't allow automatic follow-ups nor one-click sending for your campaigns, so a bit of manual work is required to run campaigns through Buzzstream. Plans start at $99 per month.
Ninja Outreach is another end-to-end outreach platform, including finding contact details, sending emails, personalization, automatic follow-ups and more. I have noticed the majority of bloggers on this platform ask for you to pay to contribute to their site, which is a downside in my opinion. Pricing starts at $69 per month.
Pitchbox is an enterprise-level outreach platform, including finding contact details, personalized emails, automated follow-ups, detailed reporting, and more. Pitchbox is more suited for larger teams or campaigns, SEO agencies and SEO professionals.
It comes at a higher price point, but sometimes the preferred tool for serious SEO guys and gals, due to having more features and flexibility than the other platforms. Plans start at $195 per month.
Additional link building opportunities
The aforementioned link building techniques are enough for 99% of readers to push rankings higher than competitors. For link building junkies who’ve exhausted the above options, here’s a handful of strategies listed in rapid-fire fashion.
These are intended for advanced SEO users, who are already actively blogging and building links.
Create a Twitter profile
Adding a link in a Twitter profile is a big opportunity disguised as a small opportunity. Simply by creating a Twitter profile, and listing your website in both the “website” and “bio” fields, you will get a handful of links from high domain authority aggregators that scrape your information from Twitter.
Sites that do this include Klout, Twellow, Twitter Counter, and many others. To make these links more powerful, you can make your profile active without a large overhead of time.
Use a service such as Hootsuite to auto-post blog posts from RSS feeds relevant to your niche, to make your profile active. Build up a base level of followers to your account with a small budget using a service like Twitter Ads or Twitter Counter - Featured Users.
Pingback & trackback link building targeting authority sites
You can get a handful of easy-win authority links, including .edu and .gov links, by linking out to blogs in your industry with pingbacks enabled.
Pingbacks are notifications from your blog sent to other blogs when you mention an external post. Blogs with pingbacks enabled will show a link back to your website in their comment section when this happens.
Here’s how a comment will look if it is a trackback or pingback:
Digital nomad blog
[…]read the latest tips on how to travel with only your carry on luggage[…]
Pingbacks build up valuable relevant links back to your website. They can also be a traffic source, picking up engaged readers from other sites and sending them to your site.
Run a quick search on Google to find the top 50 or top 100 blogs in your industry, then go through and find the ones with trackbacks enabled. For example, to find digital nomad blogs, you might type into Google: intitle:“digital nomad” “comment”
Next up, in your upcoming blog posts, link out to blogs with pingbacks enabled. For this to work successfully, keep in mind you need to link out to actual posts, not the home page.
Create your own authority links
The most powerful link building strategy is to simply go out and make your own authority links. By buying a previously owned website or domain, you can turn it into a blog and unlimited source for powerful, highly relevant links back to your site.
There are readers out there who will scoff at this strategy and there are readers out there nodding their heads—it’s the readers nodding their heads that know how powerful this strategy is.
Links from authority sources in your market are much more powerful than any other kind of link, and the easiest way to get authority links is to create your own authority site. Consider buying a website more than three or four years old with a relevant domain, for a more powerful effect.
Be careful with this strategy. If you create a network of sites like this and obscure the ownership details at the domain registry, and only link back to websites you own, you risk being labeled as the owner of a private-blog-network by Google and could potentially receive ranking penalties.
However, if you create a legitimate, authoritative resource creating genuine value for users, you should be fine.
Flippa https://flippa.com Marketplace for buying and selling websites.
Sedo https://sedo.comBuy and sell domains.
Relationship link building
If you’ve been following the online advice on blogging and link building in the past couple of years you will have noticed a recurring theme: building relationships with other bloggers in your industry is a powerful way to earn strong backlinks to your site.
While this strategy is only relevant for users with active blogs on their site, fortunately, creating these relationships and getting the links is easier than it sounds. Other bloggers in your industry are just as dependent on links as you are.
By linking out in your blog posts to other bloggers you 1) give a valuable backlink to the blogger, and 2) give recognition to the blogger for being an authority in the industry.
Everyone likes recognition, and the law of reciprocity comes into play here, you will find most bloggers are grateful for being mentioned and happy to link back in a social media post or future blog post.
Try creating or curating popular blog posts into a top-level summary, then send a quick email to the bloggers mentioned, let them know, and very politely ask for a mention or link back. The best part of this strategy is curating blog posts; it is often easier than creating content from scratch.
Example email: Hey [expert blogger],
Just thought I’d give you a heads up. I’ve just featured you in my post [xyz]… Hope you don’t mind. If you’re happy with the article, I would really appreciate a mention on social media or perhaps a link back. Or if you want anything changed, feel free to let me know.
Really enjoyed your post on [xyz]. Thanks!
Example expert round-up post: Experienced business travelers reveal their favorite travel tips http://www.businessinsider.sg/business-travel-tips-from-expert-travelers-2015-6/
Testimonial link building
An awesome way to get high quality, relevant links back to your site is to give out testimonials. Sometimes you can actually earn a link back to your site from somebody else’s homepage, possibly one of the strongest types of links to get! I will sometimes go as far as purchasing a product just to get a testimonial link.
Give this strategy a try by finding a few sites with testimonials and offering your own. Of course make it easy for the webmaster by including all the information they need, such as a photo, your name, job title, testimonial and link back to your site.
The key is to look for businesses or services with a testimonials page already, or a testimonials carousel or widget on their homepage. Speed up your search with a couple of Google search queries:
"keyword" +"client testimonials"
"keyword" +"what customers say"
Social media & SEO
Is social media important for SEO?
Social media has become integral to the way we use the Internet. Important content is not only linked, but it is also shared, liked, tweeted and pinned. How people use the Internet has drastically changed, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed over at the Googleplex.
Many of the independent studies on Google’s ranking algorithm show a large correlation with high-ranking pages having strong social media activity.
While the official stance from Google is that they do not directly use social signals in their algorithm, the SEO community pretty much agrees it is certainly a factor in achieving rankings.
Disagreements aside, I can tell from my own experience, sites with large social followings consistently get higher rankings in a shorter timeframe.
Not only can you use social media to build social activity to increase your overall SEO strength, but you can also use social media to regularly create backlinks that are free and easy to build.
It also increases referral traffic back to your site and engages previous customers. As a rule, social media should be a part of every SEO project or even every marketing project.
Google+ & SEO
Google has been consistently rewarding businesses using their own social network with higher rankings. To be specific, Google+ is reported as one of the strongest ranking factors for the past several years, so much so, if you look at the SEO ranking factor surveys, Google+ is consistently at the top of the list!
A lot of businesses still aren't using Google+, so this is an opportunity to get an advantage over competitors. At a minimum, you should set up a business page and add some posts to your profile.
Next up, encourage followers by adding a Google+ follow button on your website, and link to your Google+ page in your email footer.
Social media management is beyond the scope of this blog, but simply getting started and building a base level of activity on Google+ will put yourself ahead of other businesses—it is the social media site most often overlooked by many brands, which means you can use this to your advantage. Get started with the below links:
Facebook & SEO
Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. What’s popular on Facebook is essentially a snapshot of public opinion, and Google has noted this by making Facebook activity a very strong factor in their algorithm.
You should consider using Facebook for every SEO project. If you only have the time or budget to use one social network in your SEO strategy, use Facebook.
To improve your site’s Facebook social activity, share content from your own site on your Facebook page on a regular basis.
Each time you do this, you receive more exposure from your fan base, and you also build up social activity around the content on your site.
Be careful to mix this up with relevant, engaging non-commercial content for your user base, so you don't turn them off and maintain high levels of engagement. Examples include infographics, inspirational quotes, inspirational photos, and so on.
Build up your audience by including a Facebook follow button on your site, your email signatures, and your thank you or success pages.
If you want to speed up building your audience, you can use Facebook advertising to build a relevant audience of local customers. This is a good strategy if your competitors in the rankings have a larger following and you are looking to beat them.
You can also use Facebook advertising to increase exposure for your posts or even run advertising campaigns for a promotional offer. Facebook advertising stands out as a great way to build up an audience, social activity and referral sales for projects with a budget.
Twitter & SEO
Twitter is filled with discussion on the world's latest news and events. In many cases, groundbreaking news stories are released on Twitter before the world's major news outlets.
The death of Osama Bin Laden is the perfect example—it was leaked on Twitter by a former chief of staff to the US Defense Secretary and within minutes it was all over the news.
Google has recognized this and uses Twitter activity in their algorithm. While it may not be as strong as other social networks, you can use Twitter to build up your overall SEO strength.
Twitter is a great social network to weave into your SEO strategy as you can schedule a lot of your tweets in advance without coming across as too spammy, and manage your account with only a small commitment of time and effort.
Schedule tweets to your pages such as Hootsuite and start building up your tweet counts on your pages. Mix this up with relevant and informative tweets about your industry. You should aim for a maximum of 12 tweets per day.
12 Tweets per day are roughly the limit you can post without annoying your followers. If you’re lazy like me, you can schedule all of your tweets about 3 months in advance.
If you want to encourage site visitors to tweet your content for you, include a “tweet this page” link on every page or blog post on your website.
Free and easy Twitter management software. You can install Tweetdeck on your computer and manage your whole Twitter account from inside the program. Popular features include managing multiple accounts, scheduling tweets, and arranging feeds so you only see updates from Twitterers you're interested in.
Hootsuite -Free to start. $10 monthly for power users. http://www.hootsuite.com
More advanced than Tweetdeck, you can use Hootsuite to schedule tweets, analyze social media traffic, manage multiple accounts, create social media reports to monitor your success, and much more. Recommended for power users or automating multiple accounts.
Other social networks
Let’s face it, we'd all love to play around on social networks all day, but we don't have the spare time to be always looking for great ideas and sharing them endlessly on social media accounts.
If you have limited resources, focus on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
If you are looking for an extra edge, doing SEO for a large brand, or maybe you have an army of helpers waiting for your command, you can gain significant boosts by expanding your social activity to several social media sites.
Setup an account on the below networks, posting on the networks most relevant to your business:
LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals. LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool if you are in the business-to-business industry and looking to build up your personal brand or the brand of your site.
If you want to increase your effectiveness on Linkedin, join groups and participate in discussions, post relevant updates about your industry and post content in the news feed.
Pinterest has become one of the fastest-growing social networks in a very short timeframe. Pinterest’s fast-growing user base is primarily made up of women. The site has effectively turned into a giant shopping list of wish-list items. If your target audience is women, you should be on Pinterest.
Initially, a mobile app to help users make their photos look pretty, Instagram has skyrocketed from a fledgling mobile app to compete with major social networks in just a few years.
Instagram limits the number of links you can post, which essentially means the links from your profile on Instagram are much more powerful. If you work in a fashion or image-heavy industry, Instagram is a must-have social network to incorporate into your SEO and overall digital strategy.
Social media analytics
If you invest time and effort building up your social media profiles, you will want to track your results so you can separate the parts of your strategy that are successful and not so successful.
Social media analytics is different compared to other web analytics because social analytics are geared to measuring the conversation and interaction of your fan base with your brand. Using the software listed below, you can monitor results and get valuable insights on how to improve your social media efforts:
Sprout Social is great web analytics and social media management package that allows you to track the performance of your social media profiles over time. It has a free trial, suited to advanced level use and offers powerful analytic reports for major social networks.
Hootsuite is quoted many times in this blog and for good reason—Hootsuite is a robust social media management software allowing for control over many social networks, as well as powerful web analytics insights. Its paid plans are also quite affordable for pro-users.
Google Analytics social-tracking features are great for tracking basic social interactions that occur when visitors are on your site. It is free and includes an out-of-the-box solution with the standard setup. To see social reports, log into Google Analytics, click on the “Acquisition” tab in the main menu, then “Social”.
Web analytics in a nutshell How to measure your success
Web analytics changed how we do business in the 21 st century. Now we can find valuable insights into customers, including what was previously difficult or impossible to discover, including information on website visitors’ demographics, interests, online behaviors, and more.
We can find out what works and what doesn’t, cut underperforming marketing campaigns and increase budgets for winning campaigns.
Simply put, web analytics have made it easier to grow almost any business. Read on for a quick guide covering the nuts and bolts of web analytics, and how to put web analytics to work for your business.
Why use Google Analytics
You may have already heard about Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the web analytics platform used by the majority of sites. It has its quirks, but it’s the best readily available, all-around analytics tool available for understanding site traffic. And the best part is it's free.
If you don’t have Google Analytics installed, put down this blog, install Google Analytics now and then slap your web developer. I'm not joking. Without Google Analytics set up, growing a business online is like trying to pilot an airplane blindfolded.
Without Google Analytics it's difficult to find out what works and what doesn’t, identify issues and solve them before they turn into bigger issues, and get a sense for the general direction your business is headed. Google Analytics is useful for monitoring the performance of a business and is applicable to about 95% of businesses.
To get started with Google Analytics, head on over to the below URL and click on “sign in”. Create a Google account if you do not have one already, and walk through the simple steps to get started. You may need help from your web developer if you are unable to edit the code on your website.
How to use Google Analytics
Let me tell you something a little risqué. On its own, most data is useless. You heard correctly, for real awareness and insights, we need to be able to compare data and identify trends over time. There are two ways to analyze and understand data in Google Analytics in reference to time:
Compare two date ranges
Click on the date field input in Google Analytics. Enter two timeframes and you can compare them both. Useful date comparisons include comparing this week's performance to last week's performance, last month's performance to the month prior, and last month's performance to the same month the previous year.
Look at the charts over a long time frame
Simply look at the charts over the longest time period possible and look for trends, without comparing date ranges. This is not so effective for finding hard-to-find information or identifying granular insights, but this approach is useful for a bird’s eye view of the direction your traffic is heading.
Note: Seasonality is a factor affecting many businesses. Sometimes you may see a downturn in traffic, but this may not necessarily indicate your site is performing poorly. It could be that your market experiences a downward trend in certain months.
If your business is experiencing a downward trend, use the “compare two date ranges” approach and compare the current month's traffic to the same month last year. If you are seeing increases, then you know your site is performing well, irrespective of seasonal trends.
The acquisition is an area of Google Analytics any business owner or marketer should spend a lot of time reviewing. The Acquisition section of Google Analytics breaks down where your site traffic is coming from.
Without keeping a close eye on your traffic sources, it is almost impossible to make informed judgments about the performance of your site or your marketing.
Click “Acquisition” in the main sidebar on the left. In the “All Traffic” section you can see actual amounts of traffic you’ve received from a given source. The Channels section listed under “All Traffic” is of special interest. This lists the main sources sending customers to your website.
From the “Channels” tab, you can dig further for deeper insights into the performance for specific sources sending customers to your site, such as social visitors, search engine visitors, email visitors, and so on.
Organic Search report
The Organic Search report is essential for monitoring your performance in search engines. Within the Organic Search report, you can actually see how many times you received a visitor from a search engine.
It’s worth mentioning, a few years ago Google made changes to Google Analytics that still has many search engine marketers and marketing professionals shaking their fists at the sky.
Early in 2012, Google changed this tool to hide a large portion of the keyword information, making it difficult to get exact information on the keywords customers are using to arrive at your site. Thanks, Google!
Now when someone types a phrase into Google, if they are signed into a Google account while browsing, the keyword the visitor searches for will show up as a “not provided” keyword in Google Analytics report. When this happens, you have no idea what that person typed into Google before arriving at your site.
The amount of keyword information that has been obscured by Google has gradually increased, but don't be too concerned, we can still measure the overall performance of search engine traffic by looking for total increases or decreases in the Organic Search report.
To view the Organic Search report, click on the Acquisition tab on the left sidebar, click on “Acquisition”, “All Traffic”, click on “Channels”, and click on “Organic Search”.
Imagine if you could narrow down to a particular segment of your audience, such as paid traffic, search engine traffic, mobile traffic, iPad users, and so on, and instantly see how many inquiries these users have made, how much time they are spending on your site, what country they are from, and how many sales they are making. This feature exists and it is called Segments.
Segments are powerful. With Segments, you can identify portions of your audience that potentially generate more inquiries or sales than other customers. You can even identify portions of your audience having difficulty using your site, and get insights to fix these areas for better performance.
To use Segments, simply click on the “Add Segment” tab at the top of every page within Google Analytics, and you can choose from the list a large number of Segments for deeper insights.
Common web analytics terms explained Pageviews
A Pageview is counted each time a user loads a page on your site.
Similar to a Pageview, but if one user loads a page several times it will only be considered one Unique Pageview.
A session is what occurs when a visitor arrives at the site, and then at some point closes the browser. If that visitor returns again, this is counted as an additional session.
User. If a user visits your site and then returns at a later stage, this is counted as one unique User.
If a visitor visits your site and then leaves without visiting any more pages, this is a bounce. The percentage of visitors who bounce is your bounce rate. A common question among marketers and business owners is: what is a good bounce rate?
There is no general rule. Bounce rates vary greatly between sites and industries. If you find a particular page with a very high bounce rate (+70%), this could be an indicator the visitors do not like the content or they are experiencing technical issues.
One of the most important metrics to monitor is your site conversion rate. A conversion rate is the percentage of Users completing the desired action.
The action could be filling out an inquiry form, downloading a product, or buying something from you. If you receive one hundred visitors, and three of these visitors complete a sale, this would be a three percent conversion rate.
Goals are custom goals you can set up within Google Analytics to track particular business goals or targets you may have for your site. Common goals to set up include newsletter signups, product downloads, inquiry form completions, and so on.
Call tracking—powerful analytics for every business
Web analytics and VOIP tech have advanced at a lightning pace in the past few years. Tracking and attributing phone calls to marketing channels was previously an arduous task for the local or international marketer, but finally, it's now both cheap and easy to track the source of phone calls in your marketing campaigns.
Better yet, you can track your calls to a great level of detail, including discovering the source of each phone call (Google, Facebook, AdWords, etc.) and even discover the particular keyword or ad a phone call originated from.
In case you're wondering how this wonderful technology works, most call tracking platforms use a fancy technology called “dynamic number insertion”, presenting different phone numbers to different users, depending on where they came from, then tracking it in the platform and presenting the data to you, all neat-and-tidy, on a reports screen or a mobile app.
Before running through popular tools for tracking calls, let's cover important points to safeguard your search engine performance, and make sure you get set up correctly.
Key points for implementing call tracking
1. If you rely on SEO or local SEO, it's important to keep your “real” phone number displayed on your website, for both search users and Google-bot. Make sure your developer is aware of this, and keep your “real” number displayed at all times to these users in the call-tracking platform.
If you don’t do this, the “NAP” (Name, Address, Phone number) data displayed on your site could become inconsistent, and have a negative impact on search rankings.
2. Make sure the call tracking platform integrates with Google AdWords and Google Analytics.
3.If you're using a CRM system, like Salesforce and so on, you might want to check the call tracking system links up with your particular CRM.
4. Finally, if you're on WordPress or another CMS, ensure the call tracking platform has a plugin for your particular CMS for easy setup. If the platform has a plugin for the software running your site, this often means you can get set up in under an hour or so.
Popular call tracking platforms on the market right now
Call Rail https://www.callrail.com/
Call Rail is popular for its ease-of-use, international support, integrations with Google Analytics, AdWords, WordPress, Salesforce, and flexibility. It also includes cool features like text messaging, geo-routing, voicemail and more. Plans start at $30 per month.
Call Tracking Metrics is another popular platform, also offering international support, Google Analytics, AdWords, WordPress integrations, and overall, similar features to Call Rail.
Some online user reports mention preferring Call Rail for its simplicity and flexibility and found Call Tracking Metrics a little difficult to navigate, but in the end, it's often best to trial both platforms initially and see what works best for your business. Plans are a bit cheaper than Call Rail and start at $19 per month.
Other web analytics tools
There are many web analytics tools out there to help with improving the performance of your site. Google Analytics is great for understanding overall traffic performance, but if you want to delve deeper, check out the following tools for greater insights:
If you want a visual indication of how visitors behave on your site once they arrive, Crazy Egg is a fantastic tool. With Crazy Egg, you can get heat maps of where visitors click on the page. You can also see heat maps of how far visitors scroll down the page.
Optimizely is a popular split-testing analytics tool. With Optimizely you can split test different variations of your site, and see which version makes more sales or conversions, and increase your overall sales.
Google Tag Assistant is a handy free tool, for diagnosing any issues with the tracking codes for all the fancy web tracking tools you’ve set up on your site. It’s especially useful for developers diagnosing issues when you’re having obvious problems with your web analytics.
Troubleshooting common SEO problems & how to fix them
Dealing with Google can be massively frustrating at times. Customer support barely exists, and trying to understand why your site isn't playing well with Google can spiral into a wild goose chase.
Don't let Google's lack of customer support or the horror stories dishearten you.
Most of the time, if a site is experiencing Google problems, it is only temporary.
SEO problems are rarely irrecoverable
Usually, it's simply a matter of finding out the underlying cause of the problem— more often than not, the cause isn't what the popular blog posts are saying it might be. This sometimes means fixing several items.
Once all fixed, you have stacked the deck in your favor and you are more likely to make a speedy recovery.
This blog outlines common SEO problems that plague website owners. If you are not at all technically inclined, I urge you to read the section on getting additional advice, or even consider getting professional help if your site is experiencing serious SEO issues.
What to do when your site is not listed in Google at all
This is a common problem among webmasters and business owners alike. If you have just launched a brand new site, it is possible Google has not crawled your site yet.
You can do a quick spot check by typing “site:yoursiteaddress.com” into the Google search bar and checking to see if your site comes up at all. If it doesn't, it’s possible Google's spider hasn't crawled your site and doesn't know it exists.
Typically all that’s required for Google to pick up your site is to generate a handful of links to your site and some social activity.
Tweeting a link to your site is a quick way to ensure your site is indexed by Google's software, typically within 24 hours. Try to share your site from a handful of social networks for faster results.
Check Google again in 24 hours with the “site:www.yoursite…” search query and see if any pages from your site come up. If you do see pages, this means Google has indexed your site.
If this doesn't work, ask your web designer to set up a Google Search Console for you, log in and see if there are any errors. If there are errors, Google will outline the steps to fix them, so Google can see your site.
What to do when your business is not ranking for your own business name
A business not coming up in the top position in Google for searches for the official business name is a surprisingly common issue among brand new sites. Google is smart, but sometimes you need to give Google a nudge to associate your new site with the name of your brand.
This solution is easily fixed by building links to your site, with some of the links with your brand name as the anchor text. This can take up to a couple of weeks for Google to see these links, connect the dots and realize your site is the real deal.
The fast way to get the ball rolling is to do a quick search for the business directories used in your country—Whitepages, Yellow Pages, Yelp, and so on— fill out a listing for your business on each site and include a link back to your website.
The more links the better, but you should be aiming for a minimum of 50 links. In 95% of cases, this will solve the problem of a site not coming up in the top results of searches for the business name.
If this doesn’t work, set up Facebook and Twitter account for your business, filling out as much information about your business as possible in the profile. Then do a post a day for about two weeks, mixing in links to your site in the posts.
If you still can't get your site ranking high enough, use Open Site Explorer to spy on competing sites ranking higher for the brand name. Do their pages have more backlinks than the total amount of links to your site? If this is the case, you are going to need to build more links.