Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs | Rand Fishkin | Skillshare

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Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs

teacher avatar Rand Fishkin, Founder & CEO, SparkToro

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      An Overview of SEO


    • 3.

      What is SEO strategy?


    • 4.

      How do I use analytics to measure success?


    • 5.

      Ranking Factors


    • 6.

      Debunking Myths and Misconceptions


    • 7.

      Audience, Keywords, Content Strategy, and On-Page Optimization


    • 8.

      Crawl Friendliness and External Links


    • 9.

      Moment Lens: How can we evaluate the strategy?


    • 10.

      A New Post: How can we make the most of SEO?


    • 11.

      Content Tips and Tricks


    • 12.

      Building a Culture of SEO Success


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About This Class

Join "Wizard of Moz" Rand Fishkin for a dive into the heart of SEO. This 90-minute class shares actionable insights and tactics for optimizing your content and organically raising the online presence of your business and brand.

Bite-sized, easy-to-follow lessons cover

  • crafting an SEO strategy that “moves the needle”
  • granular fundamentals for content optimization
  • walk-through demos auditing a full site & specific posts

This class is perfect for entrepreneurs, small business owners, startups, freelancers, junior marketers, web designers, and copywriters eager to do SEO that matters! No prior experience or skills required.

How do you know this is the class for you? The best thing about SEO is that it's not different for every type of site. The fundamentals covered in this class can be applied universally.

By the end, students are all invited to work on a project that can put all their learnings into action: sharing their own SEO strategy and optimizing a piece of content based on keyword research.

Meet Your Teacher

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Rand Fishkin

Founder & CEO, SparkToro


Rand Fishkin is the founder of SparkToro and was previously cofounder of Moz and He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through the Whiteboard Friday video series, his blog, and his book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. When Rand’s not working, he’s most likely to be in the company of his partner in marriage and (mostly petty) crime, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you feed him great pasta or great whisky, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, again. My name's Rand Fishkin. I am the founder, former CEO, and current wizard of Moz. Moz is a startup based in Seattle, Washington that makes software for marketers. I have this big mission around trying to make search engines, and social networks, and content on the web more transparent, more understandable, more easily accessible for folks who are interested in marketing, interested in trying to earn traffic and attention audiences for their websites. So, hopefully, that's what I'm going to help you with today. If you're taking this class, it is because you have deep interest and desire to earn traffic to your websites and an audience for the work that you're doing. Now, there are a bunch of components to this, and what I want to try and help with today is understanding the strategy, the tactics, and some real hands-on demonstrations of how SEO, Search Engine Optimization, works. You should be taking this class if you are an entrepreneur or a founder, a marketer, someone who is responsible for driving traffic to a website, software engineer or web developer, or an information architect, or a web designer who's deeply interested in how to earn traffic, not just how to build things for the web, but then how to earn traffic and attention to them. No matter what content management system you've got, or whether you built your own system, this set of lessons will apply to your work. That's one of the nice things about SEO is, it's not different for every different type of site. It can be applied universally. At least the basics, the fundamentals can be applied universally. We will talk through a few different strategies that can be applied for different types of sites, e-commerce versus a business landing site versus a local site. The assignment for this class is to be able to put your SEO knowledge into action, and then to be able to share and talk about it with your fellow students. It's going to be really fun. We are going to take a piece of content, something that you're passionate about. We're going to do a little bit of keyword research to find out what people are searching for, and then you are going to optimize it and get feedback from the rest of your classmates about it. This is going to be fun. Some good prerequisites that have with this class are basic understandings of how the web works. If you know a tiny bit of HTML, that's going to be helpful for you as well, but I'm not going to assume too much knowledge in this class. So, if you take it end to end, you should get a solid understanding of SEO from front to back. With that, we're going to kick off with an overview of SEO and then dive into some tactics. 2. An Overview of SEO: Hey gang. So, let's begin with an overview of SEO. I want to talk about why search is so important to start out with and then we'll dive into a little bit of how searchers are actually using search engines, how that traffic flows on the web and how it flows through a search engine's results as well. So, let's start with this question. Imagine you're trying to pitch someone and tell them why SEO matters so much, is search really that big of a deal? The answer is yes. Search is actually still a huge deal. It's a way that a ton of the web's discovery happens. So, when you open up a browser or performance search on your mobile device, that all gets counted as search activity and we have some cool data on this. Unfortunately, we only have desktop data. So, we're talking about maybe half of the internet activity about half of it is on mobile now, but this data comes to us from a company called SimilarWeb. Similarweb has this great panel of many millions of users whose browser activity they track on desktop and they're able to tell us how much traffic flows from any given source. So, naturally, as you might expect direct traffic is a huge source of traffic that's people's home pages, that's them navigating directly, going via bookmarks and also a lot of traffic that doesn't have a referral string. So, it could come from search, could come from social, could come from links but it doesn't carry a referral string meaning the source told the browser, "Oh we're sending you from here over to here", that all gets counted indirect, that's the biggest share of the pie here at 43 percent. Email pretty tiny 0.36 percent but remember since its browser only activity, this email number is only going to capture in-browser email. So, if you use any kind of offline client won't be in there. Referring links sends a pretty good share of traffic 21 percent. That is essentially people linking from other websites to other places on the web, and this is one of the things you know and we're talking SEO, we talk a lot about the value of links. That's because links help you with not just search, but the traffic that you get from them directly to and that can be very powerful. Then search here it is, almost 28 percent of all the traffic on the web flows through search engines. That's very significant, right? A little more than a quarter almost a third of all the traffic that flows on the web. When we've compared in the past, we've looked at how much traffic does Facebook send externally to websites versus how much does Google send, and if you take out the top 50 or so sites that get traffic from Facebook, the rest of the Internet gets a very very small percentage, in fact, so small that it looks like Google sends about 10 times more traffic than Facebook does out of the network. So, look Facebook can be great, but for my purposes, I'd much rather rank well in search than have lots of followers and fans on on Facebook. I can't even reach them all given how edge rank in the news feed work these days. Then display ads send 1.5 percent, that's actually, I think, that's pretty respectable. Every different industry, every niche, every website is going to be different. These percentages shouldn't align to your marketing efforts necessarily because your customers, your audience, might be in different places but this is critical to consider where are the traffic potentials out there on the web? Why is it that search traffic is so valuable and why am I so passionate about it? The answer can be explained in this tiny adorable comic that I've drawn with stick figures because I'm not actually an artist. Basically when you're searching, you're saying, "Hey, I want this thing right now." I need this thing right now. I need an answer to my question right now. I need this product. I need to know which product to get. I need to know where to go to get this service and that is incredibly powerful because it's not just intent, but its temporal. Right? It's timely in nature. So, our friend here says, "I want this thing right now", he goes over and searches for the best headphones, maybe he's going on a trip and there you go he gets to let's say CNET's page about which is the best bet for headphones and then he goes off to the store to buy them and CNET gets some revenue from that, and the store get some revenue from that, and this guy gets the best headphones you could get. This is the power of search. Right? Every other kind of demand, whether it's display ads or social, is much more latent. It's sitting there waiting for you. TV ads, billboards radio, all of that stuff is projecting a message to you hoping that you later need or recollect that you want that product, as opposed to knowing that you need it at the exact moment that you need it. So, a lot of these other things can create demand. Search is often how that demand gets fulfilled. Next piece, let's talk about how these search results work. I think this is going to be critically important for understanding how we do SEO and why it's so critical to worry about SEO even if we are appearing in some of the ranking. So, I'll show you what I mean. So, if I Google best headphones, what I'm going to see at the top is I'll see some ads. There's a few types of ads. These'll probably, right now, they are product ads and Google showing a few recommendations and then they have the very traditional AdWords ads and those would go down here as well on the sidebar on the right hand side, and then Google might insert some other types of things, right? They might have some results from Twitter or they might have news, if there's some special news that's come out recently about headphones. They might show images, all those kinds of things. On average, these organic results, results that were most traditionally used to, what we'd call the 10 blue links that kind of stuff, that organic content gets about 82 percent of all the clicks on average across Google's entire network of searches of which there are many many billions a day. We think right now we're estimating that that's somewhere between 6 and 10 billion searches per day happening on Google, but half on desktop, half on mobile. Of those billions of searches, 82 percent go into the organic results. That's a ton yet, here's what's fascinating. So, 18 percent of the clicks go to paid search, right? This is what's crazy. On average, businesses and organizations' budgets are split exactly the opposite about 80 percent of budget across the Fortune 500 or the tens of thousands of smaller businesses that you can survey and see, about 80 percent of budget goes to AdWords and then 20 percent goes to SEO, 20 percent goes to organic. This is awesome. This is awesome for you and it's awesome for me. It's awesome because it means that everyone is investing all their energy in trying to get traffic from these sources and not very much from these sources, sweet, that means opportunity for us. Last thing we'll look at here is click-through rates. So, when you're thinking, hey, I'm already ranking number five, I'm ranking number six, how much opportunity do I really have if I could move up in the rankings? Now, the answer is it's pretty substantive. So, in the first position, you're getting on average and granted these numbers can vary somewhat widely but on average, the first position is getting around 31 percent of all the clicks, drops to 14 percent for position two, 10 percent, seven, five and half. Then six through 10 are getting 3.7 percent collectively, page two gets about four percent collectively and page three through one million gets 1.6 percent. There's a saying, the best place to hide a dead body is on page three of Google. No one looks there. So, this is why if I'm raking number five today by moving to number two or to number one, I could potentially increase my traffic four, five, six, seven times. It's incredible potential for more traffic, incredible potential to use SEO to earn visitors who want exactly what you have right now. 3. What is SEO strategy?: Okay. Let's dive into SEO strategy and how we begin the big picture of forming the work that we're going to do for our SEO campaigns. So, what is an SEO strategy? How do you create one? Well, an SEO strategy is different than what we think of as tactics. So tactics might be things like keywords, alright, yes, you do need to figure out the terms and phrases that your audience is searching for. But how do you decide which ones to go after? That flows from your strategy. Which links should you get? Should you get higher rankings? In which ranking should we pursue? All of this stuff fits into the tactical area, that is not strategy. Strategy really answers the question, how can search traffic specifically organic search traffic, help us accomplish our business goals? That's strategic. Now, business goals should flow from the top of your organization, they should be something that's collectively understood throughout. If you're really small business, hopefully that's really easy. If you get bigger, it gets a little more organizationally complex. I'm going to assume you know what your business objectives are every quarter or every year. I'll use an example here. Let's say that we're a camera maker or a camera lens maker and our 2016 objectives are: A, we need to get distributors aware of and excited about our products so that they want to buy more, because distributors are huge way that we're going to sell our camera lens. B, we got to recruit the talent that we need to grow. Maybe we maybe need hardware engineers, maybe we need some software engineers, maybe we need sales people, but recruiting is going to be huge effort for us in 2016. Finally, we want to increase our direct web sales by 25 percent. So we have to ask the question, can more search traffic help us? How can it do that? If we know those things, we can then prioritize to say, "Great, we know that getting distributors excited about us is something that we're going to pursue with a content strategy, and SEO is going to bolster that content strategy by making that content more discoverable, and here's what that content needs to look like and we've tested this out with distributors, it got our Customer Advisory Board of Distributors really excited. So, we know if we can amplify this and get it to rank for these things, we can reach these distributors." We know that for recruiting, there's five or 10 job positions that we really want to try and go after, and we know that if someone is searching for this specific kind of hardware, you know what? They're probably a great candidate for us. So, we want to get a page up that has content about that and then links to our job ads, and we're going to pursue it that way. We know that to increase web sales, we've looked at all the keywords that send us traffic currently through maybe our paid search efforts, we've seen which ones convert the best, now we want to rank organically for those. So, the answer to this is yes, and now we know how. That's how you craft an SEO strategy. From there, you've got to prioritize your investment. So, there's a lot of different things that you could do. So, you're going to look at a bunch of different potential investments that you could make, content things, keyword things, fixing the website, making it faster, maybe switching to a secure site HTTPS, maybe making it mobile friendly, hopefully it already is, but if not, that could go on the list. Then we're going to try and guess at the expected value and the expected cost, not just dollar cost, but people cost. Which teams are going to be involved or which people for our team are going to be involved, how much is it going to take to have to get contractors for anything? Then what's the level of business importance. When you add these things together, we can really get a sense of which things are going to pursue in what order, this year or this quarter, this month or this week? Finally, we've got to consider one more element that is SEO like any organic strategy is not just about you and your needs. We have to be empathetic and consider what our audience needs as well. So, we might say, "Hey, we want to do these things, this is how we're going to prioritize them, but what does our audience need, and does that actually fit with us?" That is going to speak directly to expected value and it's going to speak a little bit to expected costs because effort is going to be much higher if your audience doesn't actually need or is already very well-served by someone else in the sphere. So, when we're thinking about our audience, we want to take a look at the folks that we know that are in the group we need to target, and ask what are they searching for or seeking today that they can't successfully find or they're not being well exposed to? A great way to do that especially if you already have a list of terms and phrases that you know your potential customers or your audience or your audience's influences are searching for, is to look in the search results and say, "Who's ranking for this now? What questions do they answer? What questions don't they answer?" What's the thing that when I get to the first few results I think to myself? Gosh, this is fine, but I wish they, and then fill in that blank. If you have great answers to that and if you have ways to say not, "How do we make something as good as this?" I hate that question, that is not the bar in SEO. Not in 2015, not in the years to come, that is not the right question. The right question to ask is, how do we make something 10 times better than any of these? That's the bar, and the bar is so high, because it's so competitive to try and rank for these terms and phrases in Google today. There's so many people creating content and investing in SEO, and it's so hard to stand out from the crowd that we really need that 10X better level in order to get there. I think one of the biggest challenges we see with folks who do an SEO strategy put together a document, put together a plan is that they don't consider their business objectives, and they instead just chase what they think are their SEO objectives. So you think SEO is a one size fits all, fix the website, get the URLs right, get the crawl structure right, get the right keywords, go after some links, and improve my rankings. Yes, that very often encompasses the tactical set of what you do for SEO, but it doesn't capture the importance of your business objectives or why you're going after any given thing and look, you could increase traffic dramatically and get lots of new rankings, and it could be for all the wrong stuff. A great SEO strategy is going to follow pretty much the same format as any great strategic document. It's going to say, here are the priorities we suggest going after, here the business objectives they're going to hit. We've talked to the teams that would be involved in this work and we know they're expected costs and their expected effort and here's the value and the calculations that we use, maybe in an appendix to get to that value, and this is the level of importance to their business right now, and why we're suggesting this prioritization. Then it becomes less a conversation around should we invest in SEO and more conversation around which CO investment should we make now and how do we prioritize them, and are these the right business objectives to try and tackle through organic search traffic? 4. How do I use analytics to measure success?: All right, gang, so we have gone through our strategy and our tactics and now we need to talk about how we measure the success of our SEO investments. So, there are few key metrics for SEO health, and we can get a lot of these from analytic software and from ranking software, which I'll talk you through. One of the key metrics that I urge everyone to measure and I think is absolutely essential is traffic, that's by visits. I like to use number of visits, not unique visitors, or page views, or anything like that, but number of visits and that is sent by each search engine. So, let's imagine here that blue is going to be Google, and my pink there is going to be Bing. So over time, what I can see here, January, Bing is starting out small, grows a little, grows a little in March. Great, I'm doing well with Bing, right, I'm growing my Bing share, I'm having success there. What's going on with Google, though? So, Google is obviously an overwhelming majority of my traffic. On average, for most sites, Google is going to be 80 to 95 percent of your traffic. If you're in Europe, it's going to be more like 95 to 99 percent of your search traffic because Google has so much market share there. In February, it grew substantially. But then in March, I can see that my Google search traffic is actually down. This is very important because this tells me that I need to do some auditing, I need to figure out why that is. What's gone on there? What am I doing right from January to February, and wrong, potentially, from February to March? Next metric that I urge you to check out is the number of pages, number of unique pages on your site that are receiving at least one or more visits in a month from a search engine. This is by used search engines. So, on the on the left here I've got number of pages receiving visits from Google, and then down here I have my months. I can see, in fact, I think I've solved my mystery because January to February, it went up a little, no problem, great, that maps with my traffic growth. Then in March, it actually fell. So, it looks like March I received traffic to fewer pages, suggesting that either the rankings for a bunch of pages fell, or maybe Google stopped indexing them, or maybe I had a problem. Maybe I unpublished them from my website, or accidentally blocked them by using robots.text and I told Google, hey, don't crawl these pages anymore. So, now I can start digging in and understanding what's gone wrong there. That's why it's critical to measure these two metrics separately. The next key thing that we need is rankings. Just a few broad things on rankings, we need our rankings to be tracked even though there's all these things around personalisation, and localization, and different kinds of devices, and that kind of stuff. Because broadly, rankings are still very well correlated to traffic. The rankings that you get from rank tracking software, you could use Moz, you could use any of the many rank tracking solutions out there. Those data points that you have will be very well connected to what the average searcher sees. So even though positions might change around a little for personalization rankings, still key to measure. We can do lots of important things there, we can say, "Hey, we're seeing lower traffic, but we're getting just as many pages seeing that traffic and we are not falling in rankings. What's going on? Oh, that's not our fault, that's lower search demand." So if you look at the last two weeks of December, search demand for pretty much everyone falls off a cliff, the last couple of weeks of December. Which is no surprise, at least in the United States, where it's a big holiday season. There's usually a slowdown in a lot of search demand in the summer, except around things like best grilled steak, which takes a huge shot up in June and won't stop until September. So, those kinds of things are very important to be able to measure and to know what is responsible for us growing or shrinking our search traffic. Let's go take a quick look at some ranking solutions, and I'll walk you through a couple of important points about that. All right, so here we are in Moz analytics. You can use a lot of tools, as I mentioned, for tracking your rankings in SEO. But since I'm the creator of Moz, I happen to have a login for Moz analytics, and of course, I've been tracking some things for awhile here, so we'll use this one. But this example is pretty salient across any SEO ranking tool you might use conceivably. So, take a look here. I am seeing my keyword rankings, this is for my personal blog, which is at You can see I'm tracking 275 keywords, 36 of which over the last week have moved up, and sadly, 42 have moved down. It's one of those cobbler's children have no shoes situations where I don't pay a ton of attention to my own rankings in my blog, at least not as much as they should. You can see in here, right, my position one through three, how many keywords I'm tracking that are ranking there versus four through 10, 11 through 20, etcetera. What's interesting is down here in the keyword rankings, where I've got this view that shows me my traffic, so this grey line here is showing traffic over time and I can see that traffic bounces around not all that much. This is organic traffic from search, from Google in particular, the vast majority anyway. My rankings, you can see, took a dip here, this is the week of October 14th, I lost some rankings. I also gained a few as well, but lost some. You can see my traffic is down there, recovers up here, and is doing well the last few weeks. So, what's great about this view is being able to see whether rankings are responsible, in part or in whole, for a traffic increase or decrease, and whether moving up your rankings is having a positive impact on your organic search traffic. There's lots of reasons why it might not be responsible. It could be, search demand was weak, there's just not a lot of people searching for those keywords, terms and phrases that week. Or it could be that demand was very high. It could also be that the keywords you're tracking are sending you some portion of your traffic, but there's a lot of traffic that's coming from keywords you're not tracking. Maybe those rankings moved up and down, or maybe demand for them changed. So, this is really about being a diagnostic and an analytic tool to help you answer the question, "Am I doing well with rankings for the terms and phrases that I care about? How is that impacting my traffic, if it is?" So next up, we're going to chat about identifying opportunities and risks as we're measuring our traffic. This is good on both ends. We want to be careful that we don't have problems with our SEO that we can't fix. We also want to be careful that we are not ignoring potential opportunities that are pre-designing themselves. So with opportunities, if I look at my keyword rankings and I see that I have a bunch of keywords that are in position three through 20, but the pages that are ranking in those positions still seem to be getting some valuable traffic., what does that tell me? Well, we know from our click-through rate data at the beginning of our series here that, my God, I could increase that traffic tremendously. I could get a ton more valuable traffic if I just moved from position three to position two, or four to three. Next up, if you are bidding on keywords, which most folks who invest in SEO are also investing in paid search traffic, they're buying keywords through AdWords or through Bing. If you're seeing PBC keywords that are sending you valuable visits and you are not yet ranking for them on the organic side, that tells you another huge potential opportunity, probably some potentially low-hanging fruit too. Lastly, if there are sections of your site where you look and you see hey, none of the pages with this particular path or none the pages in this section seemed to be receiving search traffic or only receiving one or two visits a month, what's going on there? Wait a minute. Maybe we aren't actually targeting any keywords with that content, maybe we haven't optimized for it, maybe we've blocked Google, maybe we have not made that section crawlable or indexable to search engines. That's another big potential opportunity. Next up, the risks, the scary stuff. So, pages that are receiving visits from search engines, but that traffic is not doing well. Meaning, it has a high bounce rate, it has a low browse rate. Those people are getting to your site and they're clicking right back to Google. Next, pages rank highly that are sending large portions of all your search traffic. So, if you see that hey, we're growing search traffic month over month, it's looking very nice but these five pages and these five keywords are responsible for 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent of our traffic. That's risky because your competitors could overtake you in those positions, search demand for those terms could fall. Google could introduce new elements to the search results, more ads at the top, different types of results in there. Suddenly, the percentage of traffic, because it's so high from these few terms, you're exposing yourself to a lot of risk. So, you might want to think about optimizing for the tail or broadening out your search targeting to be able to rank for a lot more phrases and limit your risk. Then the last one is, if you're seeing a downward trend in the number of pages that are receiving search traffic, like we talked about here, even if you're seeing growing rates here, let's say that these look up into the right, it looks beautiful, but fewer and fewer pages on your site are receiving traffic. That suggests that potentially you have low quality pages that Google doesn't like or they don't think should be in their index, or maybe you're creating a bunch of pages that Google is getting confused about, or you have duplicate content, or canonical quantization problems. That deserves an audit, that deserves a fix. If you are looking into services and software providers that can keep track of your rankings for you, include your visitor data, and try and give you some of these metrics, it really depends on the type of business that you are. If you're a large enterprise, you might look at a couple large enterprise providers of this data. GetSTAT out of Vancouver, Canada, is a great provider, Searchmetrics, which is in Germany, and Conductor, great company out of New York. All of those are really good for the enterprise side of this. If you're looking a little further down market, maybe you're not thinking about paying thousands of dollars a month for this but more in the hundred to a few hundreds of dollars, my company Moz is a reasonable solution, potentially. Searchmetrics also has a lower price package that we like and have been impressed with. A company called Ahrefs out to Saint Petersburg in Russia, another good choice to check out. Then there's a long tail of rankings providers. So, if you search for SEO software or track SEO rankings, you'll see a tremendous list, and you can audit those and figure out which one might be a great match for you. If you're running a service like WordPress, or Squarespace, or Shopify, unfortunately, these metrics are not exposed to you by default. In fact, even in Google Analytics, you're going to have to do some work to get at this data. Some of the SEO software packages that I mentioned, like a Searchmetrics, and a Conductor, and a Moz, those will actually do this kind of in an automated fashion for you. That's nice but that doesn't mean you have to pay. You can do it manually through Google Analytics, or through another analytics provider. If you're using Omniture or something like HubSpot, you can get this data out of those services manually too. It's my strong suggestion that you don't become too metrics obsessed on too frequent a basis. In my opinion, looking at something more than week over week is probably not that valuable. Rankings will change on a daily basis, but daily rank tracking gets a little obsessive and also doesn't give you a big picture. Rankings could fluctuate on one day and come right back the next day. It even fluctuates a bit hour to hour sometimes. So, my strong suggestion would be, try and keep it to week over week, that's a really good time frame to be measuring this kind of stuff. If you have a particular problem that you are worried about or a particular term or phrase that you're obsessed with, that you know is critical to the business or the businesses performance over a small period of time, say, the couple of weeks leading up to Halloween, for those of you who might sell costumes or costumes supplies, or any commerce business right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. Some daily rankings tools will help you with that. 5. Ranking Factors: Every two years, Moz does something special and different to try and understand how it is that Google ranks pages and sites in their results. So, you type in a query, Google does a bunch of fancy magic. Well, very technical things that are not magic, but they essentially have an algorithm that determines of all the potentially relevant content that they could surface for a query, which ones are they going to show for your query and in what ranking order. This is critically important because as we discussed, the click through rate curve means that that first position is getting a lion's share of traffic, that second position is doing well and then it drops off steadily from there. So, in order to do SEO well, we as marketers need to understand how is it that Google is putting together their ranking algorithm? We call this study the SEO Ranking Factors. We do this study every two years, it includes two elements, one is a correlation analysis where we take a bunch of features and we do the math to try and correlate them to tens of thousands of Google search results. The second part is a survey of SEO opinions. Basically, we select about 150 folks in the SEO sphere who are very competent and capable and have proven themselves over the years, and we survey them about their relative opinions about the importance of factors. Both of these are worthwhile checking out and we'll refer you to the document where you can read those, it's free on the web. Think if you search for SEO ranking factors, you'll find it. But, what I wanted to do today is to use the opinion data, the aggregated opinion data and the percentages that are shown here, which I think are a nice visual representation in a pie chart of how you might think about how Google is ranking things, which elements they're using, which elements they're not using, what they care about, don't care about. So, what we've got here are a number of factors. You can see from this pie chart like do you get a sense staring at that? Gosh, that is actually not a huge difference between the top factor which had an opinion, an aggregated opinion of about 14.6 percent versus the smallest factor of 7.07 percent. That's actually not that much of a shift. It's not like there's one dominant factor. So, let's dive into what's actually in this ranking algorithm. What do professional SEOs think is important and what have we validated through correlation and through testing on this stuff. The answer is it's still very, very important that we have domain level link features, which is also called domain authority in the SEO world. You can think about this as basically all the links that point to all the pages on your site from other websites. So, for a long time Google has thought hey, what you say about yourself, the keywords and content on your page is fine, and we care about that. But, we're also very interested in what other people on the web say about you. What they say about you is through the link graph. The average page has about 75 links on it, maybe 80 now, and there's many, many external links, in fact, trillions of them across hundreds of billions of web pages. So, Google's got a ton of data that they can mine here. Page rank their initial attempt to build an algorithm to define which pages are more important than which other pages based on their links has matured dramatically. So, now, we have a lot more features on this. The second one here, almost the same 14.5 and 14.6 percent, respectively, in our survey, is page level link features a.k.a. page authority and this is really about the links that point to an individual page. So, you've got your website here and your website has a bunch of pages on it probably more than five. But, domain authority is looking at all the links that come into all of the pages on a site and that's telling Google, "Hey, this domain is important, this domain is influential, this domain is relevant to these topics." Then, they'll also look at page level, so just the links that point to the one page that's potentially going to be returned for a query. Next up, page level keyword and content features. This is essentially your keyword targeting. How good of a job are you doing, showing Google that your relevant, showing them that you're on the topic you're talking about, showing them that you're serving the visitor well or not, keyword. If I'm trying to rank well for camera lenses, well, I probably want to make sure that camera lens is in the title of my web page, that it's in the content there, and then I also include terms and phrases that people are probably searching for, like dimensions, and which manufacturers that a camera lens works with, and what models, and all of this other additional information. Google's really smart through topic modeling algorithms that's saying, "If you are trying to rank for this term or phrase, and we don't see all of these related terms and phrases that we've previously seen connected to this term, well, we probably aren't going to rank you." Trying to rank for New York City neighborhoods without the words Brooklyn or Manhattan or Queens or the Bronx on the page, that's going to be pretty tough. So, next up page level, keyword agnostic features. What do I mean by keyword agnostic? Well, these are things that they are about the page, the individual page, but they're not about the keywords necessarily. So, that stuff like load speed and mobile friendliness, the uniqueness of the content, making sure that it's not duplicated from somewhere else, the length and size of the page. All of those kinds of features which have importance as well in Google's algorithm. If you are trying to serve up in-depth results about a very specific research topic you're going to want an in-depth piece that is lengthy, that provides unique content. If lots of people are doing those searches on mobile and you want to rank well on mobile, Google is favoring mobile friendly results. So, you're going to want to target that. Number five, engagement traffic and query data. This is one of the ones that's been rising like a rocket ship the last few years. Four years ago we didn't even have it in our survey, people really weren't thinking about it. A couple of years ago, it's small this year, it's big. I wouldn't be surprised if it's number, maybe two or three even when we do it again in 2017. What I'm talking about when I say engagement traffic and query data is features like pogo-sticking and query-success. This is Google essentially saying, "Hey, you did a search and then you clicked on result number one, and that took them maybe to your website." Well that's great, but then, they immediately clicked back to the search results and they chose number two instead. Then, they stayed on that site and browsed around they never came back to the search. That first behavior of jumping back from your page to the search results is what Google calls pogo-sticking. It is a very bad thing. You want to avoid pogo-sticking at all costs if you can. The reason being is, that's a metric Google uses to ascertain, did the searcher have a successful query? Did they have a good experience on that page, on that site, once they got to it from our search results. If you have a lot of people who do a search, they get to your site and they go back and choose someone else's, Google is going to think, I don't care how many links you have and how well optimized your content is. These visitors are unhappy with you. I'm pushing you down in the results and I'm pushing the guy who is making them happy up in the results. So, that kind of engagement and query data is making its way into the algorithm. It's why it's critically important not just to think about SEO, but to think about the visitors' experience on your page as well. Next up, domain level brand features. This is things like branded search and direct visits and brand affinity. What we mean with this is Google takes a look at a domain overall and they might say, "Gosh, this domain is really connected to a particular topic." When we see people searching for camera lenses, they often make their way to your website. When we see people for example searching for reviews of hotels, when we see them searching for where to go on a trip. They very frequently find their way to TripAdvisor. Lots of people skip that process altogether and search for hotel reviews in Cork Ireland TripAdvisor. They add the brand name to the query. That's a branded search. That tells Google, "You know what? Maybe even when people are performing the search without the brand attached, we should be ranking that brand TripAdvisor, whoever, higher in our results." So, those domain level brand features also making their way into the algorithm in a big way. That one's has been rising too. Domain level topic and keyword associations. This is similar stuff. This would be around things like the domain name itself, some topic modeling that rather than being connected to an individual page is connected to a domain overall. So, for many years has had a nice positive association with the word SEO and so, when you add SEO to a lot of queries even where it doesn't make any sense, animal husbandry SEO. For some reason Moz seems to come up because Google's got this topic association between SEO and That's obviously very nice for us, but it's something that you will want to build for yourself and your own brand with your domain in your niche. Number eight, our penultimate one here. Domain level keyword agnostic features. So, just like our page level keyword agnostic features, we're talking about things not related to the keywords in terms and phrases you use, but rather the TLD extensions. So, you're using,.net,.org. Trust signals around a domain that can exist, spam signals around a domain. So, Google might look at does this domain tend to have contact information, was it registered by an entity that we've seen register a lot of other 'spammy' domains. What sorts of traffic data patterns have we seen to it? All those types of things. Our last one is social data and features. I think this is actually the most fascinating one for many people because a lot of people just naturally assume, myself included for a long time, myself included here. Assume that things like tweets and Facebook shares and Google Plus shares and LinkedIn shares and all the social data, which surely is a good sign, a good signal for whether a page is relevant and whether it's useful and whether people are actually interacting or engaging with it. That is not something Google is using very much, at least not directly. So, indirectly, there are features from these that make their way into the algorithm. You can certainly imagine that something that gets a lot of tweets, a lot of shares, also gets a lot of links. But, with the exception of Twitter a little bit because Twitter now has the partnership with Google and some tweets are directly showing in Google's results, social media is mostly an indirect influence at this point, not a direct one. Influencing this stuff is part of the SEO process. Many of these are challenging to influence, they'll take a lot of effort and energy. Others will be more simple to control like the stuff on your own site. But, this is what we do in SEO. We influence these things in positive ways directly and indirectly through everything that we can in our organizations, and things that happen outside of them. Then, we try and get the maximum ranking benefit and search traffic benefit that we can. 6. Debunking Myths and Misconceptions: Before we can dive into our tactical practices, I want to dispel some of the myths and sort out some of these misconceptions that for a long time have existed about SEO. Look, SEO has changed over the years. In 1999 and 2001, when SEO was sort of getting its start and was in this infantile stage, a lot of these things that I'm going to point out to you were true and now they are not and I think it's dangerous that for 15 years these misconceptions have stuck around. So let's dive in try and dispel a few of them right now. First off, let's talk about domain names. Say you are trying to rank for camera lenses. Will it really be helpful to you to register and make that your primary site or or cameralenses dot imagine any TLD you want in there. The answer is maybe a tiny bit from a pure SEO perspective in that Google will see hey those terms and phrases are in the domain name when people link to you they'll probably use that name. That name kind of now becomes your business name and so as they're linking to that's how they describe you. So for that one term and terms and phrases related to it, you could get a small benefit but it will hurt you in big ways too. This is a very hard name to brand. Amazon didn't choose, they didn't choose buy everything on the Internet dot com, they chose a name that was brandable and could build an association with it. For the most part, the best practices that apply to branding are probably to SEO as well and because branding has so much more of an impact in terms of the press and PR that you can achieve. The memorability of your brand and the type in traffic that you get, how people search for you on the web whether they link to you whether they choose to look at, that sounds a little fishy. People have had bad associations for the last 15 years with exact match domain names and so now they look for brands that they know and love and trust and recognize. This is going to be very hard to get into that world and so I generally recommend against doing it. Second one, key word repetition and stuffing. Oh! Maybe I should have a page like this, camera lenses. The best camera lenses are camera lenses that lens right on the camera. No, no, no. This is a terrible idea. It totally worked but in the 1990s. We are a long way from that, stuffing keywords will not help you, stuffing key words will hurt you because when people come to your site or come to your page from Google search results. If they see text like this even if it's shoved down at the bottom page that kind of thing it suggests a spamminess, a sketchiness, a non-trustworthiness that will get people clicking that back button and like we talked about pogo sticking is a very dangerous signal. So, I would try and avoid this at all costs. I would put the keyword in my title element. I would put it intelligently in a body so that someone knows that that's what I'm talking about. But then I would serve the visitor worry about them and most of the rest of your keyword targeting stuff will be taken care of. Number three, SEO is about metatags, right? Oh! Boy. Well, this one is complicated because the answer is mostly no. When people think they're talking about, oh! SEO is mostly about my metatags they think, I don't have to change what's on the page, I just have to put keywords and the right keywords in the right order into the metatags which no one but the search engines will see. Why would the search engines care about something that no visitor can see? So, technically the title element of a page is a meta tag and it is important you should worry about that page element. You should make your title compelling that'll be your snippet. It's also what shows up at the top of the browser. Same with your headline that should probably match your title. The metadescription tag is important because that's what Google uses as a snippet right underneath your title in search results. But it's not about keywords. It's about convincing someone who's reading a short one or two sentence long description of your page that they should click on that page rather than anything else. The metadescription tag is about ad copy. It's about selling yourself to a searcher who has just performed that query and trying to make them come to your site. It will not help you to have camera lenses repeated in your description even one time necessarily. You might want to put it in there because it helps convey the information but repeating it three, four or five times, useless. The metarobots tag tells robots whether they can crawl and index the links on the page and the page content itself. So yes it's a metatags. It's only really important if you want to restrict crawling by default Google assumes that they can crawl everything on the web, everything in your private life. They have a little camera that hovers around all of us now monitoring everything we do. Kidding. Sort of. But the metarobots tag is important if you want to block bots or if you want to say, "Hey, bots don't follow any of the links on this page but yes you can index the content or don't index the content of this page, but yes you can follow the links on this page." Rel canonical, the rel tag like that is part of the metadata of a page and this is merely to say which version of a page you might want Google to visit we'll talk more about duplicate content and canonicalization later. Then there's, I put schema here, but there's many many opportunities and options around and schema types of data that you can mark up a page with to give it a rich snippet potentially in Google. So you might give a star rating for example for a product if you have product ratings or you might give an image that someone could associate with a recipe if you have a recipe site in that schema data. All that stuff, totally fine. Things to ignore. The meta keywords tag, totally useless. There's one use for it. If you would like to tell all of your competitors every keyword that's valuable to you and you want them all to know which keywords to go target, by all means use the meta keywords tag SEOs love when you do that. Honestly don't do it, don't use it and most everything else. Most every other meta tags not important. So look there's some technical stuff around metadata that still matters but putting keywords, stuffing keywords into meta tags that is not SEO in 2015. Will Facebook help me rank? Well, the answer is sort of but indirectly and that's actually true for all of these networks. Google Plus, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc etc, all of them may help you rank but it's indirectly. It's basically the audience on these may see your content, may visit your website and may then perform actions that help you like stick around there and link to you and expose you to other people and share you with folks. That's all great. I would urge you to invest in the social networks where your audience already goes. That's going to be valuable for you but don't think of this as a direct SEO benefit to your rankings. Last one, keywords and links. Keywords and links are all that matter for SEO. SEO is all about keywords and links. This was actually true just a few years ago. As little as five years ago, four years ago, you could make a compelling argument that step one optimize for keywords, step two get Z links. step three profit. This model kind of worked then Google got much more sophisticated. The underlying underpinnings of their technology got better and as you saw from our ranking factors diagram there the algorithm is flattened out dramatically. It's not just a couple of things that influence this anymore. We need to serve visitors well, we need to associate our domains with topics and entities we need to be able to not just do keyword optimization but also on page optimization that make sure that visitors want to stay there and don't click back to the search results. We need to do all sorts of things around rich snippets and marking up our snippets so that people actually click them. SEO has gotten much bigger than this. If you reduce it to this, you probably lose out to someone who doesn't. 7. Audience, Keywords, Content Strategy, and On-Page Optimization: Okay gang. So, now we are ready to talk about the SEO process in action. What is it that we as marketers need to do to accomplish in order to take something from just a concept, an idea, to a page that exists on our website that can rank in Google and that can earn us search traffic? The first thing that we want to start with, before we ever get to which keyword should I target and what page should I create, is audience research. We need to deeply understand and have great empathy for who is in our target audience and who are our audiences influencers? Sometimes those are two very different groups. Your target market might be people who buy camera lenses but you're influencers might be professional photographers, people who run photography classes, people who have powerful accounts on Instagram, right? The people that those folks who are buying camera lenses are paying close attention to. You should be looking for them in a bunch of different places. So, we might find them on various websites in the photography community maybe we'd find them on different social networks. Instagram is a good one, Facebook is probably also a good one, Twitter could be a place we want to know things like what do they search for and what is their search behavior like. Do they do searches for this type of content or are they more on the receiving end of it and they don't go out and proactively look? What niche sites are they paying attention to? What sorts of offline media do they listen to? Once we figure those things out, we can do a much better job at answering the questions that we're going to have around keyword research. Keyword research is our next step but without this fundamental understanding of who are our audiences, where they go, what they're like, what they prefer and don't prefer and that deep empathy for them, we're going to do a terrible job at keyword research and a terrible job at making content. So, our keyword research process is going to start with a brainstorm. We know who are our audiences, we know they're influencers, we know their tastes and preferences, we know what they do and where they go. Let's brainstorm. Literally two of us in a room are going to write up on a whiteboard a list of terms and phrases that we think people might be searching for around our topic. It can be really helpful to have someone from your customer service team, if you've got a customer service team. Someone who interacts with customers regularly maybe someone from your marketing team or community team, it can be great to have someone who does sales for you because they know the types of language that people are using in your sphere. From there, we're going to take that brainstorm and we're usually going to go to the AdWords keyword tool which is now Keyword Planner inside of Google's AdWords program. There's Moz's keyword explorer and keyword difficulty tool there's SEMRush which has a great database of terms and phrases you can even search for a domain of one of your competitors and see all the keywords that they rank for. Similar web will tell you all the keywords that sent traffic to a site. So, again you can plug in your own site but you could also plug in competitors there. has kind of a full keyword research process and then you can use Google itself. So, if I know that people are searching for a camera lenses I could search for camera lenses in Google but don't hit 'Enter.' Just see the list of all the things that populate as Google suggests other terms and phrases to you. You may need to turn off autocomplete in order to get that because otherwise Google will take you right to the search results. There's another tool that does a great job of actually scraping Google suggests and collecting all those terms for you, it's called Uber suggest. Run by a couple of Italian guys out of Naples actually and they may do a terrific job. They have a nice free tool for you there at Once you've gathered all these keywords, so you've brainstormed, you've run your keywords through these tools, now you're going to expand and refine your list. So, you might take a few and say, "I don't want that keyword anymore I'm going to keep these ones, these ones look good." Now we're going to build a spreadsheet. This is a little time-consuming, well, a lot time consuming but it's critical in order to be able to prioritize which keywords we should go after. That spreadsheet is going to include a few columns. It'll have the keyword themselves, the estimated volume of searches which you can get from AdWords or a number of these other tools but it all comes from AdWords. The difficulty which you can get from Moz or from a number of other sources. Opportunity which is essentially an estimate of the relative click-through rate that you expect. So, as you might imagine, if there's lots of ads at the top of a search, the click-through rate for the organic results is going to be slightly lower. If there are very few ads, the click-through rate for organic will be higher. If there are a box of Twitter results, and image searches, and a big news box or a knowledge graph result, where Google gives you an instant answer and tells you about what Wikipedia says about a thing. That opportunity is going to be reduced and then lastly business value. This is a column that you're going to come up with a number that you estimate based on the keyword how valuable do I think that would be to the business if I were to get high rankings for this search term or phrase? Using all of these, you're going to calculate out some predictive score over here. You could call a combined score and then you're going to basically say okay that's number two, that's number one, that's number three that's how we're prioritizing and this is the order of which keywords matter the most to our business right now and what we're going to go chase after. What I suggest is doing this on a regular basis. Usually, quarterly maybe every six months even every year if your business doesn't fluctuate that much around search volume, but you need to be doing this on a regular basis so that you can capture new terms and phrases that people are using and so that you can figure out what your next target set of keywords that you need to go after include. Next, we're going to go into content strategy and look content strategy is a huge world. We could do hours and hours of classes on content strategy. So, I'm just going to cover the basics here and then you can learn more from lots of wonderful people on the web. But let's imagine that the keyword we're chasing is something like better mobile photos. We've decided that hey better mobile photos that really fits with what we're going after it has good volume, low difficulty, high opportunity, high business value, great we like it. What are our audience needs? What do we know about this audience that they would want when they search for this keyword? We could say, okay we know they're going to want visuals, they're going to want information on editing, maybe they want to see different products and different devices, they're going to want to see examples. They want to see how to hold a camera, they want to see comparisons of photos taken with various devices, with various products. Now we're going to try and figure out which business needs we have that this keyword and the content that we create is intended to serve. If we don't think about our own business needs, we could potentially produce some great content that people are very happy with that does very little for our business, that's probably not why we were hired as marketers. So, maybe we have goals like drive brand awareness and we want to get traffic specifically to the camera lenses page where we offer all our sales stuff. We want to increase photo taking habits on mobile and make mobile photography more respected in the field. Great. These are our goals. Now we can brainstorm what is the content that will serve our goals, the users needs and the keyword targeting? Those are the three elements that we need for a good SEO content strategy. So, I came up with a couple on the fly they're probably not the best in the world but how to take the best photo on every modern smart phone. I'm going to buy 12 modern smartphones everything from LG and Samsung and Apple and then I'm going to show people how to take the best photos on each one and then I'm going to do a comparison, or I could do comparison of 10 types of photos, right? Indoor shots, outdoor shots, low-light, high-light, landscape, et cetera. From here, we're ready to take one of these ideas and go into our on-page optimization. On-page optimization it's really just a checklist. We need to make sure that the page that we produce hits the mark on all of these items. These items include; Am I using the keyword intelligently in the title element, the page title and then I should make sure that the headline of the page matches that title. Remember the page title appears in the browser at the very top above the URL bar, the headline is what people see right on the web page itself. That headline should almost always match the title. There's a few times when it doesn't but we won't get into those edge cases. The snippet you want that snippet, the meta description and the title and potentially any rich snippet opportunities that you have for images or ratings or those things to be very compelling. Compelling so that people will click them and they'll be very happy when they land on your page from that click. You need to look at the page and say how am I going to create content that is 10 times more valuable to our audience than anything else in these search results. This is oftentimes a challenge but many times it's not. Many times you look at a set of search results and you go "Boy, they are really all hitting the bare minimum." How could I blow these guys out of the water? How could I create something that a resource that anyone who finds it or stumbles across it would go "My god, I so want that to rank I wish that were the first result in Google." Why can't Google get this right? Eventually they will. It needs to deliver a great user experience on every device that means it's got to be mobile friendly, desktop friendly potentially tablet friendly. It should answer the searchers query. So, 10 times better is great but make sure you're also doing a good job of recognizing what is the searcher trying to accomplish here? What is their conscious and unconscious need when they're typing this query in. Page should load fast. Preferably in under three seconds but if you have two, four seconds is okay. Last but not least, we should include the keywords and topics that we believe search engines have probably associated and searchers have associated with these search terms. So, someone searching for better mobile photos I better have things like words like smart phone and smartphone camera and lens and all those types of things included on the page. 8. Crawl Friendliness and External Links: Next up is crawl friendliness. Look, for the lesson that we're going to go through today, you probably don't need to worry about Crawl Friendliness. You're going to go into your Content Management System, WordPress, or whatever you've got, you're going to publish a page, it's going to work fine. Crawl Friendliness is really worrying more about the full architecture of a site, and trying to, you know, if you're auditing a website, figure out what might be right or wrong with it. So, look, Google is crawling the webs pages via links. So, if they see that a page is very very deeply buried and they have to follow one link after another, another, another, to get there, that page is going to be viewed by them as less important. They're less likely to crawl it frequently, they want to sign it very much value in there, in their ranking algorithms. So, internal link architecture actually does matter. It doesn't just matter for find ability for people, matters for search engines too. So, my advice is try to keep pages no more than three clicks from their homepage. That will actually get you, based on that, if we assume that the homepage itself has maybe 100 links, that will get you one, two, three, to 10 million pages. If you have a bigger than 10 million page site, it is totally okay if it takes more than three clicks. If your site is less than 10 million pages, what's going on? You can keep it to less than three clicks. I know you can. Alright. If you have pages, two pages or multiple pages, that are duplicate or have very very similar content on them, for example, maybe I create this article over here, and I have a print friendly version. Right? A version that prints out really nice so someone who wants to share it will print it out, great. Let's make sure that the print friendly version uses a rel equals canonical, that's a piece of metadata that I can add in the header of a page, to say, "Hey, Google, and all other search engines, this page is actually just a duplicate of this other one, the other one is the one I want you to rank." That rel canonical will put the original URL, the one that you want search engines to rank in there, so that they don't get confused about which page should earn all the ranking signals and which ones should be included in the engine. The only other thing that we need to worry about here is, don't block crawlers by restricting IPs that they, you know, someone recently had this happen on a major site. Noticed that their search traffic had fallen off cliff, and it turns out that their technical operations team was like, "Man, I think we're getting a DDoS attack, it's coming from Mountain View California, 66.36 IP address, block that whole IP range." Yeah. Well, that's where Google crawls from. So, if you block them they can't get to your website and that is going to be, let's just put it this way, whoever is responsible for your traffic is going to be very unhappy about that. So, be cautious about that. You can also restrict bots with the meta robots, or robots.txt tag, both of those you should be cautious with, and intentional with. If you're sure you want to block bots from crawling something, that's fine. Remember, blocking a bot from crawling via robot set text, saying like, "No, you're not allowed to crawl these pages," doesn't mean that that page might not still be in the search engine. Because search engines see links to a page, they can still include it. The only way to make sure that a page won't be in a search engine's index is to use the metal robots tag, and say no index on the page itself, but let Google crawl that page. Little frustrating there. Last piece we're going to talk about for this SEO process is Earning External Links. Once we have the content, we know it's targeting our audience well, we know that it has a great strategy behind it and it's serving the right keywords, we are going to be trying to earn great external links to that page. So, again, this is one of those topics like content strategy that could take an hour. But, you know what? There's an essential nugget kernel of truth around this. That is, before you publish any piece of content, have a great answer to the question, "Who will help amplify this, and why?" If you don't have an answer to that question, if you can't say to yourself, "Oh, I know these people." Not just these types of people, or I think this group broadly we'll think about it, but, like hey, I have been in an email touch with with Rand Fishkin, and Rand said he loved this, and he would love to see it on the web, and he'd be happy to share it, great. Now you have a list of people, who will share and amplify that content, and you know why they're gonna do it, terrific. Before you before you publish, try and have that. This could be any number of folks, right. It could be bloggers, journalists, social influencers, the owner of a niche site. It could be at an event, maybe an event that it was willing to promote your stuff, or you're going to speak about some content you produced there. It could be through paid ads, right? There's all these content advertising networks, Outbrain, and Taboola, and many others now. It could be your partners, or people who are benefiting from it, many many options around the external link earning process. But, it's a challenge for sure. This SEO process, this is straightforward, but a lot of work. So, be prepared for that in your efforts. So, to recap, our goals are: understand who our audiences by researching them and where they go, do keyword research by brainstorming using tools to expand and refine our queries, and then, prioritize based on the metrics that we've gathered about our keywords, conduct our content strategy by understanding our audience and their needs, how the content will fit with our business needs and brainstorming some great ideas that we think can resonate in these communities, conduct on-page optimization by checking all these boxes that we've talked about, make sure that our page in our site, more broadly is crawl friendly, so that Google can access all those pages, and earn External links by having a great answer to the question, "Who will help amplify this, and why?" 9. Moment Lens: How can we evaluate the strategy?: All right, welcome again to the strategy demo section of our lesson today. What I want to do is take you through the process that we would use to audit websites, SEO strategy, and to start crafting that process. So, I'm going to be very informal about this, but I think you can still take away a lot of the process here. We're going to surf a website, this is Moment Lens, which is run by a friend of mine, Mark here in Seattle, Mark Borrows. Moment Lens is this very cool device that you can screw on basically to the lens of your cell phone. So, I can take my cell phone here, attach a little thing here, screw on a lens and then get essentially the magnification and all these resolution things that you could never get with a normal cell phone camera. Pretty cool. So, Moment has their marketing challenges and their issues and this is where the SEO process comes into play. So, let's browse the website. It's obviously lovely, clearly there are very good photographers. They have a number of products that they sell, lenses that screw onto different phones and cases and that kind of thing. I think this is lovely and fine, it's a very simple message on the front, but the questions that I would start asking here are, "Hey, Moment team, who are your target customers? Who's the audience that you need to reach right now, in the next six months, in the next two or three years? What sorts of content are you creating now, are you thinking about creating? What things have resonated with this audience in the past? Who do they pay attention to? Who were there influencers? I want to know a little more about what their goals are, their objectives for the next quarter and the next year, especially when it comes to who they're trying to reach and how they're trying to reach them." from there, we can start to craft our keyword strategy and our content strategies and brainstorm those ideas of, all right, what are we going to make? What are we going to optimize? What do we need to worry about in terms of what we should rank for? Do we need to concern ourselves with different search engines outside of Google and niche websites and placements in other places? Do we need to think about our presence on places like Instagram, for example? Do we need to be thinking about what we're doing on and whether we need to come up in searches there? So, these broad questions will lead us to the tactical items that we need to pay attention to. For the purposes of this, let's take a brief look at their website, you can get a sense because they have several different types of lenses and lens cases and because they're showing off examples of the photography that you can achieve here, we can already get a sense of a few of those keywords and content items, we can see where our keyword and content strategy is going to take us. That brings us to our next point here, which is, I'm going to show you how to do some keyword research very briefly, how to start building some content, I'm going to use my blog in WordPress to do that. Then, I'm going to ask you all to create some content of your own and optimize it. When we craft these tactics that map to objectives, one of the key things that we want to make sure we do is to measure our success and then be willing to change our tactics if they're not working. Be adaptable and evolve based on the data that we learned. So, if we find out, "Hey, we're great at producing beautiful photography, but it's not getting consumed, people aren't really paying attention to it, we're not having a lot of success there, maybe we need to think about other kinds of content." If we're writing a blog and our blogposts are falling flat, week over week, month over month and we don't feel like we're making progress there, maybe we need to invest in a new form of content and I think this is a key when it comes to all tactical mappings to objectives, is that we need to be flexible and we need to figure out the intersection of three things; the intersection of what we're good at, which may not be the same thing as what we initially thought we were going to be good at. What we're good at, where our audience actually is and is paying attention and where we can provide unique value. If you find the intersection of those three items in the Venn diagram of strategy, you're going to have success with your tactics, you just need to be willing to measure and willing to evolve based on what you learn. 10. A New Post: How can we make the most of SEO?: So what I'm going to do is I'm going to show you- well, we're going to start with my blog, and I'm going to talk a little bit through my content strategy and a piece of content that I'm planning on publishing. Then I'll show you in WordPress, how I might start the process of creating that content, how I would do the keyword research to figure out what terms and phrases to target, and then publish an amplified e-folks. So, here we are on my blog, you can see I've written some posts about SEO in the past, and of course, as the founder of Mars, I write about a lot of things around web marketing and Internet traffic, and all that kind of stuff. So, what's going to happen here is I've been brainstorming for a while on wanting to help specifically consultants and agencies. Consultants and agencies have a lot of questions around whether what they're doing is normal, abnormal, weird, so what I did is, I thought you know what, I think I can help these people. Since I know a lot of them, I put together a survey. So here's SurveyMonkey which is where I built this survey and you can see that I've asked a lot of questions, and I have a few 100 respondents. So I've asked people which of the following services do you offer? How many full-time employees work at your agency? When was it founded? What do expect revenue to be in revenue growth? So, all these great questions. From there, what I hope to build is some benchmarking. I give these consultants and agencies the ability of benchmark themselves. Now, I've got the content strategy, I have my idea, I've done some of the execution work, I've even got these respondents which is great, now I need to do my keyword research. I've got to figure out what is it that people are searching for where I want this content to come up? So, we're going to start with Google's Keyword planner. This is Google Address Keyword Planner. If you search for Google Keyword Tool, or keyword planner, you'll find it. I'm in my AdWords account and most obviously does pay for a lot of traffic from Google but you don't have to pay them anything. It's free to set up an account and free to start using this tool. So, let's go in here and we'll search for new keywords using a phrase web sorted category. So I'm going to search for SEO agency pricing, SEO consultant rates, SEO consulting services, brainstorm a few more here. How about let's do SEO agency growth rates. Sometimes you want to apply these filters so the targeting can be all locations, all languages, Google or I can choose to include or exclude other properties that they control. I could include some negative keywords if I wanted to exclude searches that included something but I'm going to leave this pretty basic for now and click get ideas and then we can refine further from there. So what Google will do here is they're going to go through their database of keywords and they're going to show me a bunch of information. Now, here's what I'm seeing. They're suggesting that I go with these broad group ideas. This is if I were going to actually bid. Since I'm not bidding on these I want to see the individual keywords because I'm trying to get my keyword targets for my content. So I'm going to click this keyword ideas tab right there and now they're going to load me up with all sorts of things. Some things to pay attention to in here. See these average monthly search numbers, 390 for SEO consulting services, 90 for SEO consultant rates. Those searches you can pay relative attention to them but don't trust them to provide you with exact data. It is not going to be the case that 390 people precisely searched for SEO consulting services last month. This is data from October. So in October it's not true that 390 people searched for it. It is probably true that between three and four times as many people searched for SEO consulting services as searched for SEO consultant rates, which Google gives me a count of 90 average monthly searches for and that's probably about 10 to 20 X what people search for SEO agency pricing. So I think it's fine to take away relative numbers from this but very dangerous if you get into this world where you think oh that's exactly how many people search for it. Don't make your predictions off that. Don't tell a client or your manager or your team, "Hey I know exactly how many clicks we could get if we rank number one for this", you don't. These numbers can vary pretty widely to what actual searches look like. That being said, what I'm trying to do here is get suggestions and so I want to find something with relatively high average monthly searches. I don't by the way need to worry about competition or suggested bid here, because I'm not competing in the paid search results, I'm competing in the organic search results and Google showing me paid search results here. These don't map one-to-one. A high suggested bid and high competition in AdWords doesn't necessarily mean that the organic competition will be high. I'll show you a method to get it difficulty in a sec here. Let's dig through. We're not really offering consulting services, we're really serving the agencies. So I feel like words that include rates and words that include pricing are really our sweet spot here. So let's take a look, consultant rates and pricing. I think that's what we're going to stick with. Let's go play around with this a little bit. What we're going to do is go to Google itself and now we're going go to settings in Google, click on our search settings and say never show instant results. See that radio box there, we want that so that when we start searching Google will show me all sorts of suggestions. There we go. Fees, rates, those are really good, pricing, you can see that I'm getting different results when I'm using Google Suggest here than when I use Google Analytics. That is exactly what I'm looking for. I want different unique ideas that Google suggesting to me and Google Suggest and related searches which I'll show you in a sec here, related searches which are down at the bottom, searches related to SEO consulting pricing. Those two source often don't map to Google AdWords but I can take, we saw SEO consulting fees, we didn't see that backend Keyword Planner. I can take that and plug it in here and then Google will actually give me the volume for it. So you can see they have volume for it, they just weren't suggesting it to me as a term. This is why we have to broaden our keyword research beyond just Adwords itself. Let's say we've got our ideas, let's just go ahead and say SEO consulting services pricing and fees is what we're going to chase after. So we're going to go to my blog, go to posts and add a new one. I am going to call this-. Look this is not the most exciting title in the world but I feel like it's going to be very compelling for people who are searching for this type of data. So in here I go to SurveyMonkey, I'm gonna take my responses and look I've got my results and I'm I've got a ton of beautiful data in here that I can take directly from SurveyMonkey and paste in there so you know all sorts of cool stuff like the services they offer and these these very nice graphs that can be embedded or I could play around with Photoshop and maybe make them even prettier, put them into my post and publish that post. There's a few things that I would urge you to think about here. Remember that I can enter a meta description. This is the plugin from Yoast. It's very popular for WordPress. Many people use it. Whatever content management system you're using is going to have a meta description and so this text in here for this meta description is critical. It's going to convince people to click on my link. This is where I might put 300 consultants and agencies participated and then I'd create this content in here. I'd write it beautifully of course and I'd throw in all my lovely charts and graphs and then I'd hit publish and I've got my page that I can now amplify to folks. Now, one the things that is beautiful about the process I've got here is I have my answer to the question, who will help amplify this and why, right away. The people who filled in the survey. I asked them. It was optional, but I asked for email addresses and I got a few hundred dollars. I'll not show those as to protect those folks privacy, but I've got three 300 addresses now I can reach out to them and say, "Hey that survey you participated in thanks so much, here you can benchmark your data and I'd love if you help me share it by tweeting it or writing about it or here's some embed code so you can put stuff on your blog if you'd like." This is great. I've got my full strategy from the content, to the keywords, to the amplifiers and the influencers, and how I'm going to reach people and I would feel pretty confident that in a few weeks after publishing this I could rank on page one for these key terms around SEO pricing, consultant rates, benchmarking, all that stuff. That's very cool. So, now I want you to try it. I want you to come up with a content strategy, brainstorm some ideas, do a bit of keyword research at least through AdWords and Google Suggest, come up with a title and a description, write your content, create what you're going to create, publish it to the web, and try and earn that amplification through influencers. Of course, I urge you to chat with each other, make suggestions and get interactive. 11. Content Tips and Tricks: When it comes to content, one of the things that I urge you to consider is that written content, blog posts, a long article, these are not the only forms of content. Content can be anything that you create that is publishable on the web. It could be a presentation, maybe you're great at making beautiful PowerPoints, or using a company like Haiku Deck, or maybe you're terrific at visual images and you make beautiful lovely stuff in Photoshop, and that can be great content for you. You can create content that is not necessarily authored exclusively by yourself. You could contract writers. You could find people in your company who are great writers, who can interview you and turn your knowledge and expertise into great content. So, there's a wide, wide range and I urge you not to be too narrow in your concept of what content can be. When it comes to SEO and matching your content to the keywords that you're targeting, what I think about most strongly is the searcher's intent. What did they want to accomplish? If they're looking for broad information about a subject, maybe they've searched for where to go in Nicaragua. Great, you can be pretty broad. You can suggest 10 or 20 places all over the country, different cities to visit, and you don't have to go too in depth. But if they searched for something very specific, like where to find lemurs in Madagascar, well, you should have a very specific breakdown of which national parks, and which resorts, and what hotels you would stay at, which guides and tours they should see. They're looking for very specific information. So, the idea with content when you're doing SEO is to match it to the searcher's intent. Make sure that when they land on that page for that keyword, you are answering all of their questions, conscious and unconscious. When it comes to content, I don't always urge folks to have a content calendar or a specific schedule that you have to stick to. I think it's great if you've got a team of content creators and they know that they're taking swings at the bat every week or every day. That can be totally fine. But it's not necessary. I've seen folks succeed as content marketers with content that is being produced only once a quarter or even once a year. It is not essential to publish every day or every week. The way I think about it is this, how often do you think you can produce truly remarkable, 10X quality content? If the answer is, "I can only do that once this year," that's okay. If the answer is, you can do it monthly, great. I would say that when you're first starting out, you probably want to have a slightly higher frequency than you might over time because you need to learn and you need to get good at it and that's going to take iteration. One of the interesting lessons that we've seen in the world of content strategy, and content marketing, content creation, is that the best content does not always succeed. Oftentimes, there's an element of showmanship that's required to have true success on the web and to earn the amplification in the ranking signals that you need. So, look, I don't encourage you to create clickbait. I think that stuff is a little tired to be frank. But I do encourage you to think about how you can polish the presentation and how you can make the content compelling and exciting not just high quality and good and true and useful. I think it's just fine to add a little bit of razzle-dazzle to try and excite your audience and entice them to want more. 12. Building a Culture of SEO Success: Before we end today, I want to talk briefly about how to build a culture of successful SEO and long-term investment. One of the most frustrating things that I see and I think many of you will probably observe is in your work not just as in SEO, but as marketers, as folks we're trying to help websites earn traffic, is that there's a culture of short-term thinking. There's this idea out in the world that everything is going to work the way paid marketing works. Paid marketing can be wonderful, you spend these dollars, you get visible in front of this audience, the more you spend, the more visible you are to that audience, and then hopefully you're able to convert enough of them to make up for the cost that it took to acquire those customers. But, SEO and all the organic channels, content marketing and email marketing, and social media marketing, they require a very different type of thought process. They require long-term thinking. When you first do SEO, unless you're extremely lucky in the one percent of the one percent, it's not going to work those first few months. You're not going to see immediate rises in rankings, and suddenly you're getting thousands of customers who are searching for exactly what you want, and buying from your site. That's not how SEO investments work. What tends to be the case is that you make some fixes to the website, you identify some keywords, you create some content like we've talked about, and you optimize that content, and you try and build an audience for it, who's going to link to it, and share it, and engage with it, and it doesn't work. It doesn't work every time. In fact, this is a skill that people take months if not years to get good at. So, I think a very smart way to build a culture of SEO is to think long-term and to be prepared for your first three months, six months, to be a learning process more than they are in improvement process. If you go in thinking that, every improvement that you make, every new visitor you get is gravy. It's beautiful, you haven't set yourself up for anything except a learning process, and that is how organic marketing channels work. When I started Moz, I spent five nights a week, Sunday to Thursday night, I didn't blog on Friday and Saturday night, but every night for about 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM, sitting at home with Geraldine and I, my wife and I had a crappy little apartment, and barely any room, but it took two years, a full two years before I ever had a sense that the blog I was writing, that the content I was creating was getting any success in traction, before I started seeing those first page rankings, before I started seeing Moz's work get represented on other websites, and earn press and attention, and influence in the sphere. Before I ever got my first conference invitation, it was three years of that. This is a long-term process, and folks who you might look up to in your industry or in others are not overnight successes. They're people who've put in the time. If you can build a culture that thinks about the long-term, that's willing to put in that time and effort, you're going to be far more successful. Already gang, it has been thrilling to work with you today. I am passionate about nothing else if not helping people understand the practice of SEO, and I think we made a real difference today. So, I am incredibly excited to see all the projects that you produce, all the wonderful stuff you put out there on the web, that hopefully I and many of my co-workers and many people in the marketing community we'll get to read and be inspired by, and learn from, and I hope that as you go out into the world and apply these lessons, you are able to transform your marketing, transform the quality of what you put out, and the return on investment that you earn from that content in remarkable ways. I'm looking forward to it.