Real Estate SEO: Actionable Tips to Implement TODAY

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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

For the last few years, we’ve helped a number of real estate websites get more organic traffic from Google.

seo client results

NOTE: This client chose to remain private, but you can check our case studies for more results.

We decided to put together this post to round up our tops “real estate SEO” strategies that have helped to achieve explosive results.

There’s 3 sections to this post (click to jump):

Let’s get into it.

real-estate-seo-overviewWe’re not going to cover basic SEO tips in this post, so I want to cover items that you need still to optimize (in addition to this post).

  • Technical SEO. Items like optimized URL structure, working Sitemaps.xml website structure [NOTE: read our in depth guide to technical SEO here].
  • On page SEO. Items like page titles, keyword density (on each page) and content quality / depth.
  • User experience signals. Items like on site dwell time, low bounce rate and searcher satisfaction.
  • Online buzz. Items like social media activity, branded search and online coverage (press and bloggers).

These items are beaten to death on the web, so we’re going to focus on strategies they’re not covering.

keyword-research SEO is incredibly competitive in the real estate niche. The SERPs are dominated by authority sites like Zillow, Realtor and Trulia.

However, small sites can compete by understanding searcher intent and choosing keywords the big sites aren’t.

The easiest way to illustrate the keyword selection process is with a funnel.

keyword-funnel-real-estate

 

Bottom of funnel

We call these your “money” keywords, searches like “real estate in Downtown Del Ray“. These searches tend to be dominated by large sites like Zillow and it takes a significant amount of time for a smaller, local site to rank for them.

bottom-of-funnel

 

Mid funnel

These are the searches people are performing before looking for your services. Put yourself in the shoes of your perfect client – if you’re selling high end homes in the suburbs, people would be looking for things like “best elementary schools in West Palm Beach” would derive a certain level of intent that the person is looking to move into that area.

mid-funnel

 

Top of funnel

High level, informational keywords that are more related to your target audience than real estate. For example, searches like “best restaurants in Downtown West Palm Beach”. While these posts don’t drive a lot of leads, they do drive traffic and awareness for your brand.

top-of-funnel

Try and stay away from “luxury” keywords, I understand the appeal but there’s a handful of issues with them:

  • Luxury keywords brutally competitive. The more competition, the longer and more expensive it is to rank your website.
  • The quality of those keywords aren’t that great. You get a lot of window shoppers who just want to look at pictures – it’s not the best traffic.
  • It’s rare that someone will buy a $10m home from an internet search. People with money work off referrals, they’re generally not performing the Google searches.

Execution of keyword research is simple:

  • Install Keywords Everywhere, a free browser plugin that tells you the number of times that keyword is getting searched per month.

keywords-everywhere-plugin

  • Type various “keywords” into Google, based on your business (i.e. “Miami real estate agent”). Use Google Suggested Search to tell you similar searches and their search volume. Repeat this process to build out a full list of keywords.

keywords everywhere

  • We use Google Sheets to record our keyword research – our template is available in our Tools section.

keyword-research-template
website-structure Broadly speaking, there’s 3 types of pages we need to address on your site.

1. Listing pages

listing-pages

The pages on your site that list out properties. From an SEO point of view, these pages can present a problem for a number of reasons:

  • Listings turn over fast. A lot these pages get published and are irrelevant before Google has a chance to rank them. If not dealt with properly, dld listing pages can also cause issues by bloating your site (you should delete old listing pages).
  • These pages are low quality from Google’s point of view. Listing pages are directly fed from MLS feeds, meaning thousands of other websites have the same information.

If you have a new, less authoritative website, it’s incredibly important that every page on it is unique and valuable.

Recommendation:

We suggest blocking the crawl of your listing pages in your Robots.txt file – this will keep the pages live on your site, but will tell Google NOT to consider them when ranking pages.

I know this seems counter intuitive, but it cleans up the overall performance of your website. When you block low quality pages, Google is able to focus on the pages that MATTER – these rank better and faster.

block-crawl-robots-txt

 

2. Category / building pages

neighborhood-pages

  • These pages will have the most SEO value to your website.
  • There’s a ton of search volume with people looking for real estate by building name or neighborhood – these pages give you an evergreen opportunity to rank for them.
  • These will be targeting “bottom of funnel” keywords. These pages should be built out with a lot of text, images and information. We want to create robust landing hubs that Google will rank as the authoritative page on that building or neighborhood.
  • If your site supports it, add a section to your top level navigation that helps people find these pages and tells search engines these are on top of your priority list.

navigation-dropdown

 

3. Blog / resources pages.

best-schools-blgo

  • These pages will be used to target mid and top funnel keywords.
  • The topics don’t have to be about real estate, but instead on the searches people are looking for before they’re ready to hire you.
  • Image optimization is important because it gives you the opportunity to rank in Google Images. Try and get unique photography for your website, name the raw image file with keywords, alt tags and upload the image URL to sites like Pinterest to build some equity into it.
  • You can track to see if images are driving traffic in your Google Search Console platform, filtering for images only.

search-console-images

  • Traditional SEO tactics still apply – your pages should have optimized titles containing your main keyword, in depth on page text (at least 500 words), images, media, etc.

 

 

link-building If you’re new to SEO, “links” are the #1 ranking factor with Google. A link is simple – it’s when another site “links” to yours as attribution.

Think a HuffPost article about Miami realtors, mentioning you, then linking to your website as a citation. That link is incredibly valuable to your SEO.

If your website is new, you’re going to need to land at least 10 high quality links each month from relevant websites (i.e. blogs about real estate, travel, etc).

For clients, we target bloggers – of 2 types:

  • Local bloggers. Anyone blogging about your local destinations, nightlife, education (etc) are a good fit.
  • Interior design bloggers. Design and real estate go hand in hand so they’re a natural fit.

We have a team of interns that combs Instagram using hashtags and geo location data to find lists of bloggers that meet our criteria.

instagram

We then simply send them an outreach email with a value proposition to be featured on their website. It’s a lot of work, but the results speak for themselves.

 

Closing

As mentioned, we focused on advanced SEO tips in this post. We have plenty of more information on our website that will help you fill in the blanks.

How to Use “Topical Research” for Explosive SEO Growth

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    How to Use “Topical Research” for Explosive SEO Growth
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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

This is a short video that walks you through one of the many processes we use to identify relevant, large volume and rankable “topics” for content marketing and SEO growth.

Watch Video

I respect your time – the above screenshot shows you how to watch the video in faster speed to save you time. 

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Transcript

Happy Friday night everybody. Hopefully you’re doing something better than I am. I’m putting together a video talking about how to do topical research for SEO to hack traffic. And the reason I’m putting this together is because a couple weeks ago I shot a video and I was talking about how I did this hockey stick growth in organic traffic for my baby here Laces Out and how I used topical research as post keyword research. And I got a ton of questions about how to do that so I’m putting this video together, to show you how you can hack that process and do it very, very quickly without a lot of skill and all you really need is SEMrush.

Now when I do this for clients, I use about five or six different tactics to build content and to come up with different plans or strategies. This is one of them, I don’t have time to do all of them here. I wanna keep this quick so I’m just gonna go ahead and dive right in. So you’re gonna need SEMrush. If you don’t have it, I strongly suggest you get it. It’s by far the best tool on the market. You’re just gonna take your website, you’re gonna put it up here and then you’re gonna go to competitors. And what we wanna do is, we wanna find websites that have a lot of different keywords and topics in common with us. I like to take the top ones, because the top websites that are ranking for a lot of different keywords, they’ve established authority with search engines. That means they’re gonna be ranking for a ton of different keywords and topics that we can effectively just jack straight from.

I’m gonna take this one right here. This is really the leader in the space; they crush it. And all I’m gonna do is I’m gonna come down here to keywords and I’m gonna go to export. And I’m gonna get it into a CSV file. I’m just gonna let it download and open it up and then I’m gonna do a little bit of filtering and cleaning this up. We don’t need any of this stuff over here. It’s cool before we’re done we don’t need it. I’m gonna get rid of previous position. I’m gonna leave search volume position, cost per click and URL. Now I’m gonna do a little bit of foot work here and filter this up. And basically what we wanna start by doing is getting rid of all of the keywords over 20. I only want the keywords that are ranking under position 20. I’m going do less than 20. Go ahead and set that. Let’s make sure this filtered them. Just gonna filter this here just to make sure that it filtered out all the other ones.

Okay, cool. So now I have all these keywords underneath 20. Now depending on what niche you’re in, I also like to filter out search volume too but because they’ve only got a couple of hundred keywords left in here, I am not going to. I’m just gonna leave it like this. Generally the next step, I would filter out search volume. And also I recommend you doing it because what I’d like to do now is, after I’ve done one site, I’d like to go back and I like to get the next couple of competitors and dump them all in here and then filter them out. For the purpose of this video, I’m only gonna do one but basically what I do with this next is, I’m just gonna copy all this. I like to work in Google Sheets because that’s just where we store everything. I’m just gonna take that and paste it in here. And I’m gonna do a little bit more foot work here. Sorry, I’m like a psychopath when it comes to formatting.

Everything has to be formatted perfectly or my brain can’t function. It’s kind of disgusting, actually, I have issues. I’m just gonna get this set up and then I’m gonna lock these cells. Where you at? You freeze one row. Cool. Alright, so basically now what I’m gonna do is, I am going to filter these by page. When you filter these by page what happens is you can start to see topics forming. So what I’m gonna do here… Their home page is ranked for a lot of stuff, that’s tough. I’m actually gonna hide this for right now because this is a bad example actually, because their home page just ranks for everything. They just crush it. Most websites don’t do that. I’m just gonna hide these… You don’t wanna hide? There we go. Alright so I’m gonna hide these.

04:07 S1: The next thing I’m gonna do is, I’m just gonna look for bunches. So you can see these, I’m gonna look for pages that are ranking for multiple different keywords. Because what we can see here is, we can start to see the topics that Google is associating with this page, right? You look at these things Jordan six. We can just open this page up. You look at this it’s lacing Jordon 3s. How to lace Jordon 6. How to lace Jordon 6, lacing Jordon 6. You can see here, we’re starting to form topics. What I’d like to do here is, I like to make a separate column here for topic. And of course I’m breezing through this. I usually spend a lot more time doing this. But what I’ll do then is I’ll come up with different topics for these different, what I call clusters or bunches, right?

I’ll just highlight all these different pages in different colors so you can start to see them bunch up and then what I’ll do is, I’ll create a common topic that exemplifies all of these keywords, okay? This one would be like a run shoe laces and I’ll just drag this down and then it will capture all these keywords with that topic, okay? And then what I’ll do is, I’ll just go down and do all these really quickly and then what I’ll do is I move these to the next tab. This is called our Topic Ideation Tab and I’ll just dump this in here. And then what I do is, I take this topic and I actually go to Google and I’ll dump it in. And once I get into Google, I’ll take a little bit of look around. I’ll look at search volume up here. I’ll look at what’s ranked… Let me zoom out a little bit. I look at what’s ranking, I’ll actually layer on MOZ here to take a look at overall domain authority and page authority of the pages that are ranking. Just to see what topics and what websites are ranking. Then I’ll look down here at searches related. I’ll look at the volume here, the cost per click and I’ll start to again formulate more topics with more keywords that I’ll then dump in to here.

Then what I’ll do is, I’ll build out this list, I’ll build out 20 of these different ones, based on all the different keywords that I jacked from here, and then what I do is I start to formulate them. So I’ll look at, is there enough search volume? So for this one, let’s say, no. But for this one, let’s say this was ‘lacing Jordan 6s’, that was another topic one. Lacing Jordan 6s. I’m gonna say yes for this, and then I look at, can we compete? Right, so I’ll look at understanding the domain authority and what we rank for, I’m gonna look at the overall domain authority, the average of the first page. Sometimes I’ll even use the keyword ‘difficulty’ if you have MOZ, it’s not overly accurate for me, I don’t really care for it that much. And again, I’ll look at if there’s ads on top, because if there’s four ads on top, it’s gonna be very competitive. So again, what I’m gonna do here is I’ll say for this one, yes, this one, it’s not relevant cause there’s not enough search volume, but I’ll say yes, and then journey.

So there’s four journey stages that we use, we use viral, we use discover, we use consider, and we use customer. So these are four different journey stages that map to a funnel, and it’s what this topic maps to. So lacing Jordan 6s, for me, because we sell shoelaces, it’s important for us to get people to the site that are looking how to lace this certain sneaker. So what I’m gonna call this one is discover, and potentially even consider, because we actually sell these laces. So I’m gonna call this one consider. So this is a very valuable topic for us, because it’s pretty deep in our funnel. Then for this one, if this is new or rewrite, what I’ll do, this’ll be new because I don’t have that content on my site. If I do have the content on my site, I’ll mark it as rewrite. But since I don’t have it, it’ll be new. And then in here, I’ll put in some notes. And really what I like to do in the notes section is, I will look at the top articles that are ranking for this, so again these are all money keywords, this is really better served for content, but what I’ll do is I’ll look at what’s ranking. So I’ll look at, to see if there’s an exact match here.

So let me see this one, Jordan 6 laces. So there’s a forum thread ranking, and again this homepage is ranking for this, which is crazy. So what that tells me, actually, is this is a really good topic for me to attack, because if I can put together something more robust here, then I can outrank these very, very quickly, because there’s not a topic that’s really matching. These YouTube videos are pretty tough, especially in these how-tos, YouTube videos rank very, very well. Here’s my page ranking down here. But I digress. So let me get back here. So then what I’ll do is, after we build out a list of topics, I’ll actually move this into a content calendar. We do this for clients. And we’ll build out all these different things. Again, like the different stages here, the different audiences that we build out, this is where the topic goes, Jordan 6 laces. And then what I’ll do is I’ll put in the keywords. So for the keywords, honestly, I’ll just grab them from down here, and I’ll do this a couple of times, so this is gonna be like… Just copy this, Jordan 6 laces for sale, those are okay, Jordan 6 laces Infrared, this is a different sneaker type, so I’m gonna want to put that keyword on the page, lace lock for sale, lace length, how to Jordan 6 laces, Jordan 6 shoelaces, all that stuff.

These are all the different keywords that we’re gonna want to use, then the competition, I’ll just take the topic, and again I’ll use MOZ’s score here, I don’t want to log in, it’s a pain in the ass. I’ll use that, and I’ll grab the average keyword difficulty, and I’ll put that in here. So let’s say this is 45%, then the traffic. This is just a sum of all the keywords, so we’ll call this 500. Then this is a content tactic. This is important. So for this, this one… A lot of these will actually end up being skyscraper curated roundup, for this one, I would probably call this expert guide, because what I’m gonna do is, I’ll create a guide to how to lace Jordan 6s, right? It’s pretty easy, and then blog post for this one, potentially even a video. Actually, for this one I would definitely do a video, because you see all these videos ranking here, I could just punch that onto our YouTube channel and get it to rank pretty quickly, and then title, and then word count, author, and then this is where we pass it off. So again, this is how I create content at scale, too. I don’t write this crap, it takes too long. What I’ll do is I’ll fill all this stuff out, then I’ll build an outline for it and I’ll assign it to one of my writers.

10:28 S1: They’ll write a draft, and then I’ll publish it. So, again, in just a couple of minutes here, I’ve showed you how I’ve found a very good topic for my website, very valuable, exactly where it maps to us, and again this is mostly for client stuff, so that’s why there’s all these extra cells, so you don’t need to worry about that. But now I want to show you an example of something that I published today. So you can see here, published five hours ago. This was for a shoe called the ASICS Gel Lyte, the ASICS Gel Lyte III, and ASICS Gel Lyte V, and what I did was I wrote a guide, so let me just open this up, so again what I found was, hey, there’s a lot of search volume around this stuff, there’s really not one good topic around this, and everything that was it was very thin. So I went out and I put together a really good guide, and I rounded up 10 different lace swaps, or laces, lace ideas, for this ASICS Gel Lyte sneaker. So I’m hitting the keywords lace swap, lace recommendations, lacing ideas, and these are very, very hyper-relevant to the brand, because, hey, we happen to sell most of these laces.

So again I put together, using H2s, H3s, and a little blurb here that the person wrote, some very nice images. Of course, I credited the author, and then I linked to our actual product with the product image. So you can just see, it’s a very good looking post. But, more importantly, when you look for it now, ASICS Gel Lyte III shoelaces, on day one, you can see we’re already ranking here on the first page. We’re ranking fifth, on day one, five hours later. So let me see if this is ranking too. Yeah, there you go. And again, I jacked it from this laced-up laces here and over time this is gonna rank much higher. This is gonna end up ranking first because it’s just a much better… Let’s look at what they have. So this is hyper specific to one shoe and what I did, there’s 30 words on this page, it’s just not a very good result and then when you click on here, I have these shoe titles in here semantically marked up. It just works, man. It’s just the quickest way to hack traffic. This is gonna be driving organic traffic in no time whatsoever and not only that, but it’s gonna drive value for the brand and it’s probably gonna drive some sales for us too.

So, that’s really it. That’s all I do is one of the tactics that I use to generate these topic ideas is just looking at the top websites and kind of reverse engineering what they’re doing, looking at the post they have ranking, and then always, always, always doing it better. So the key here is to find these topics. So this is a great way to just generate ideas but then also on top of that, what you wanna do is you wanna layer on just better content and if you can do that, you’re gonna have very very quick results and when you do this at scale, that’s when you start to see… Let me just show you, a brand new website having explosive results with relevant key words because I’m constantly just building this content, and constantly getting it out there, and constantly targeting the right ones finding holes in the SERPs and attacking them. So again, this is just one way to do topical research, I’ve got a bunch more. If I put them on the web I’m gonna have to sell them because this is really how I make money. But if you guys are interested, please leave me some comments below, leave me some questions. I love hearing from you guys and I’ll see you in the next video.

5 Tactics I Used to Build My Digital Agency (Gotch SEO)

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    5 Tactics I Used to Build My Digital Agency (Gotch SEO)
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Nathan Gotch

Cotent marketing expert

I'm a veteran to the SEO industry and owner of Gotch SEO, a St Louis based search optimization agency.

This guest post was written by Nathan Gotch, founder and owner of Gotch SEO.

Trying to start your own SEO agency or consultancy? Read on.

In article, I’m going to show you how I grew my SEO agency from a one man show to three in-house employees (and an army of virtual assistants) in just a couple years time.

Quick backstory

Back in 2011, I was a senior in college and on my way to becoming a lawyer. Like many other entrepreneurs, this was the path that my family wanted me to take (aka, the safe route).

I quickly realized this wasn’t the life I wanted.

  • I didn’t want to be a lawyer
  • I didn’t want to be $100,000 in debt

I started researching how to make money online. After an extensive search, I found “blogging” was the best route to go.

I played college baseball – it was an area I felt I had a ton of value to provide. So, I started a blog dedicated to the art of pitching. After a few months I realized I didn’t know how to drive traffic to the site. In an effort to build that blog, I stumbled across SEO.

I became obsessed. I learned, I tested, I made mistakes, but once I saw success, my life was changed. I went on to create several successful niche websites and realized I could start offering this as a service to business.

Flash forward 3 years and here I am, running a successful boutique agency that continues to grow. I know what you’re thinking: how did I get my first client?!

Before I tell you, I need you to promise me 1 thing.

Do not, I repeat do NOT, take on clients until you know exactly what you’re doing!

Ranking 1 website on the first page does NOT qualify you to manage a client’s SEO campaign. You need to have years invested in multiple algorithm updates, ranking sites in various verticals and have clear proof of REAL LIFE results.

Labeling yourself as an SEO “expert” doesn’t make you one.

If you’re confident in your ability to rank websites and drive traffic, it will not only make selling easier, but it will also make your future clients love you. When clients love you, they become your marketing team because of referrals and other social proof they provide you (testimonials/case studies).

Start With Craigslist

I’m sure you don’t hear this strategy often, but I landing my first and second client on Craigslist. No, Craiglists probably won’t get you high end clients, but if you’re just trying to get your feet wet then you should start here.

Here’s what you need to do:
Go to your city >> “Gigs” and search for “SEO” – if you don’t find anything, go to a different city. Search all the large metropolitan cities.

Finding the “Gigs” is the easiest part.

Responding is where you have to be strategic. I got very high response rates because I focused on create clickbait headlines.

The headline is the most important element of anything marketing-related, so it needs to be your focus.

This headline: “Don’t Contract an Amatuer.” was a top performer.

Once you figure out how to get higher click through rates, then you need to develop a strong response. Above all else, you need to have some proof that you know what you’re doing. Show previous results, case studies, and testimonials.

With Craigslist, you need to sell the client early or you won’t get a response.

Start Developing a Blog at the Same Time

If you’re considering launching an SEO service, I highly recommend that the first thing you do is create a blog. A blog is the single best way to drive links and social shares naturally, establish yourself or your agency as an authority, and can be your biggest lead generation source.

Not only does blogging build your credibility in the SEO industry, but it will also show prospective clients that you actually know what you’re talking about.

To this date, my SEO blog is the single biggest lead gen source for my business.

Build Your Credibility on Other Platforms

Since you are likely at the bottom of the totem pole, you need to bust your ass to build your credibility. The single best way to do this is by participating on relevant communities like Quora, Reddit, Moz, SEO forums, and even popular blogs.

To get the most out of these platforms, you need to be developing content on your blog. This way you can drop a link into the discussion when it’s relevant. Don’t do this often and make sure you have given value to the community before dropping your link.

I will give you an example for Reddit.

Create an account and go subscribe to all the relevant Subreddits such as:
https://www.reddit.com/r/bigseo/
https://www.reddit.com/r/SEO/
https://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/

Go into the Subreddit and click “New” and look for questions that have no comments:

Respond the thread as quickly as possible with as much value as you can.

I’ll show you how this works in practice.

Last month, I had the perfect opportunity to drop a link on Reddit and it ended up being a great idea.

I stumbled upon this question in the “Entrepreneur” Subreddit:

Here was my response (I was the first):

This was one simple link sent me 99 qualified visitors and two new subscribers last month:

One technique for flying under the radar is to promote one of your tier one links.

For example, if there was a thread about “anchor text”, I would suggest this article from Ahrefs. This is effective because Ahrefs is a trusted name in the SEO industry, and most importantly, the suggested article is linking to my site (and Ryan’s).

You won’t get as much referral traffic from this technique, but it’s a good way to promote website without looking overly self-promotional.

Create Geo-Targeted Landing Pages

Other than my blog, geo-targeted landing pages drive the most leads for my agency.

When I first started out, I created targeted pages for smaller cities like Santa Monica and Glendale. I ranked them for “city + SEO”.

I eventually started targeting larger metropolitan areas once I dominated the smaller locations. Aside from the leads you will get by ranking, you will can also use your ranking success to build your credibility. As I have already emphasized, prospective clients want to know that you ACTUALLY know what you’re doing.

There are tons of scammy SEO “experts” that don’t actually know how to get results. Don’t be that guy.

Write Guest Posts

You probably won’t be able to land too many guest posts if you’re fresh in the industry, but it’s still worth a try. Guest posts build your credibility, drive relevant traffic to your website, and will give you the relevant links you need for your website to dominate.

Use this search query generator (link: http://www.targetlocal.co.uk/tools/link-prospecting-query-builder/) to find guest posts opportunites.

After you find the opportunities, you will need to qualify them. I use Majestic’s Topical Trust Flow to qualify all my link prospects.

The process is simple:

1. MajesticSEO.com >> “Tools” >> “Link Map Tools” >> “Bulk Backlinks”

2. If you have less than 150 prospective URLs, then you can simply paste your URLs in like so:

Or, if you have more than 150 prospects then you will need to upload a .csv file:

3. Download your results because now it is time to filter through and qualify the list.

4. Delete every column except for the four you see below. After you have done that, insert a filter.

5. Filter your results by “TopicalTrustFlow_Topic_0” in “Ascending” order. Delete all rows that are not relevant to your site.

My example below was for a health website, so the only sites I left were related to health in one way or another:

6. Next, filter “RefDomains” in “Ascending” order and delete any row that has less than 10 referring domains.

7. Lastly, filter your list by “TrustFlow” and delete all rows that have less than 10 Trust Flow.

You now have the most relevant link prospect list possible. In addition to this link qualifying strategy, you should also use Ryan’s link qualifying strategy that leverages SEM Rush traffic data.

Once you have a strong list of qualified prospects, you need to A) find their contact information, B) come up with guest post ideas (relevant to their website, and C) pitch the ideas to the prospect.

Read Ryan’s “All-in-One Workflow for Massive Amounts of Guest Posting” to see how you can expedite this process.

Conclusion

There are more advanced strategies you can employee to get clients, but showing you those would do nothing more than confuse you. Take action on these strategies I showed you and you will get your first client. The only thing holding you back from getting your first client (or more clients than you currently have) is your lack of visibility. Take action, work your ass off, and get your name out there.

Quora

Ultimate List of Free SEO Analysis Tools

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    Ultimate List of Free SEO Analysis Tools
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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

SEO is expensive as sh!t nowadays, isn’t it?

I’m not talking about the cost to hire a good SEO agency, I’m talking about the internal costs to perform the work.

The backlink checkers, the rank trackers, the keyword analyzers – the list goes on. At one point in my career I was spending upwards of $8,200 a month on tools alone.

Luckily, we live in the age where website owners build free tools in exchange for website traffic, leads and upsells. Knowing where to find these websites will save you thousands.

I’m feeling particularly giving this month (last week I gave away my entire list of link resources) and now I’m giving you a list of 37 websites that provide FREE SEO tools.

 

Ultimate List of FREE SEO Tools

[This list is in NO particular order of preference or quality!]

1. Screaming Frog

2. Google – Search Console

3. SEO Site Checkup  

4. Google – Analytics

5. Mozbar – Canonical Check

6. Majestic SEO

7. Yext

  • What it does: Checks for local citation duplicates
  • Tool type: Website
  • Link: http://www.yext.com

8. HTTP Response Checker

9. Moz – Google Algorithm Updates

10. Search Latte 

11. SEO Site Checkup  

12. Mozbar – Keyword checker

13. Open Link Profiler 

14. BuzzStream – Data Extractor  

15. SEO Browser 

16. Google – Page Speed Test

17. SEO Mofo – Snippet Optimizer

18. SEO SERP – Position Tracker (Multiple Sites)

19. Google – Rich Snippet Tester

20. Motoricerca – Robots.txt Tester

21. BROWSEO

  • What it does: Views any webpage without distractions caused by styles, highlights parts of a page that are relevant for SEO
  • Tool type: Website
  • Link: http://www.browseo.net

22. SERP Metrics

23. StatCounter

24. SEOBook – Rank Tracker

25. SEO Tools – Cloak Checker

26. Ontolo’s SERP Dominator 

27. Google – Markup Help

28. Schema.org

29. Distilled – Video Sitemap

30. Geo Sitemap Generator

31. NO Follow Simple

32. Ping-o-Matic 

  • What it does: Pings URL to search engines to notify them to index the page
  • Tool type: Website
  • Link: http://pingomatic.com

33. Moz – Local Search Check

  • What it does: Aids in a number of local search tasks like citation and listing checks
  • Tool type: Website
  • Link: https://moz.com/local

34. XML Sitemap Validator

35. STAT Search Analytics

36. The SEO Stack

37. Social ADR

  • What it does: An easy way to promote your sites and boost your rankings
  • Tool type: Website
  • Linkhttp://socialadr.com

WHEW – that’s a big ass list. Got more? Leave them in the comments for submission!

Steal Our High Converting SEO Proposal

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    Steal Our High Converting SEO Proposal
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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

UPDATED: 01.10.2017

Are you struggling to close leads?

There’s a good chance your proposals are failing you.

In this post, I’ll cover:

  • Improving proposal acceptance rate through a pre qualification process.
  • Step by step, what to include in your proposals (and why).
  • A link to the proposal template we’ve been using for years.

To get the proposal template please visit our Facebook Group: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PROPOSAL.

The proposal is pinned to the “Files” section at the top of Group [SEO Proposal Template].

 

prequalifying-seo-leads

Putting together a proposal the right way takes a lot of work. A lot of “leads” are tire kickers – meaning they’re not qualified to be a client.

To save ourselves a ton of time, we need to prequalify leads before sending a proposal. With this process in place, our success rate for outbound proposals has skyrocketed to 70% success rate.

 

1. Research to estimate budget

We don’t want to waste time with proposals if a company can’t afford our services. You can learn a lot about a prospects budget with a few simple checks.

A few things I check:

  • Social profiles. Checking to see size of their audience and fans.
  • LinkedIn company search. Checking how many employees work there.
  • Link check in Ahrefs. Checking to see the quality and quantity of their links. PR links always mean bigger budget.
  • SEMRush traffic check. Checking to see how much traffic they’re getting to get a high level idea of sales.

linked-in-search

 

2. Conversation (phone / in person).

We insist on a phone call and won’t send a proposal unless we’ve connected.

Everyone has a different idea of “SEO”, it’s critically important to get on the same page with prospects. For example, we don’t work with prospects who:

  • Have an unrealistic timeframe for results. SEO takes at least 6 months to start seeing results.
  • Talk only about “rankings”. Some keywords are flat out too competitive. We deliver qualified organic traffic, not “rankings”.
  • Are “SEO experts”. We know what we’re doing – we don’t need any outside input. Working with micro-managers just kills campaigns.

Everything needs to be discussed before moving forward.

how-to-qualify-seo-leads-copy

 

3. A verbal understanding of price.

The conversation needs to end with a pricing estimate. The other party needs to acknowledge they can commit to pay that estimate for 6 months, minimum.

Until you get their consent, don’t send a proposal.

 

breaking-down-the-proposal

Before using this proposal, please make sure to review the following thoroughly!

 

Cover page

The proposal is built in Google Sheets, not Word- this allows us to dress up the proposal with branding. Good design adds a lot of “perceived value” to your service – design is key!

page-1-cover

 

Executive summary

Enter a few paragraphs here about your company morals, beliefs and practices. Use this space to tell the prospect more things about your agency that they don’t already know.

This should a space that you sell yourself, give them good reason to dig further through the proposal and choose you. Write as much as you can but don’t go overboard. Keep it short and to the point. SELL THEM!

slide-2-about-page

 

Pitch specific insights

The key to a good proposal is identifying issues and detailing how you’ll solve them. The first few slides in your proposal should identify issues on their site and how you can help fix them. We generally try and find at least 5 issues on their site to add into our proposals.

slide-3-agency

In my opinion, this is the most important part of the proposal – it shows initiative on your part. Also, it allows you to setup your deliverables.

slide-4-example-webris

 

Campaign goals

It’s incredibly important to let your prospect know what the goal of your efforts are. Use this slide to clearly lay them out and explain them in detail.

WEBRIS example:

Goal: Increase targeted, qualified organic traffic for “bottom of the funnel” keywords.

slide-5-campaign-goals

 

Campaign deliverables

The purpose of the goals slide is to let the prospect know what we’re trying to accomplish. These “deliverable” slides should lay out the work required to achieve those goals.

We generally have between 12 – 18 of these slides, depending on the scope of the pitch. Our proposals focus on the big buckets (i.e. link outreach, technical audit, content creation, etc). Feel free to get granular here and blow it out.

slide-6-deliverables

Below is a sample deliverable that we put into every proposal. You can have slides for items like keyword research, audience profiling, technical audits – everything you do for clients should be added here.

slide-7-analytics

 

Quote slides

slide-8-seo-quote

We like to add supporting information that helps sell the prospect. If you have a team, display them – it’s a huge trust factor when a prospect can associate names and faces.

slide-9-team

Adding client logos is another great way to give a quick sales pitch.

slide-11-clients-helped

Timeline for results is also important here. This generally remains the same for us, but it still communicates (on paper) how long results take. We generally estimate traffic increases on past client history.

slide-10-timeline-results

I’m not going to tell you how to price your agreements, that’s on you.

We work on a per hour basis – each person that is in our agency has an assigned hourly rate.

Total Hours x Hourly Rate = Total Cost

We work on 6 month agreements, so to get the monthly total, I do:

Total Cost / 6 = Monthly Cost

slide-12-how-to-price-seo

Finally, add your contact information at the end.

slide-13-contact-page

 

Got questions?

Feel free to drop them in the comments, I’ll do my best answer them.

7 Need to Know “SEO” Tips for Law Firms, Lawyers & Attorneys

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    7 Need to Know “SEO” Tips for Law Firms, Lawyers & Attorneys
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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

UPDATED: 1.20.2017

Google is hands down the easiest way to drive clients to a law firm.

The problem is, every law firm know this and invests heavily into their website and SEO.

This has made the legal space one of the more competitive verticals in SEO.

Hopefully, this post will save you time:

  • Learning the small tweaks you can do yourself for big ranking increases.
  • Using these as “must see” points to screen bad proposals from SEO agencies.

Ahem, you can also set a time on my calendar to chat directly.

Quick Navigation

  1. The evolution of Google results for legal queries
  2. Selecting the “right” keywords
  3. Creating optimal website structure
  4. Ranking in Local Search
  5. Building valuable on site content
  6. Generating powerful inbound links
  7. Measuring the impact of SEO

 

chapter1

Google’s search results are changing. There’s currently 19 result types that dominate Google’s top spots.

search result type

This applies to the legal space as well. When searching for “Miami DUI attorney“, there’s a lot of noise:

  • 7 paid ads (4 on top, 3 on the bottom)
  • 3 local results (“Maps” pack)
  • 10 organic results (“blue links”)

Think about that – of the 10 organic results, half of them are aggregator sites (Avvo, Yelp, etc) – only 25% of organic results are really available.

The competition for those spots is tough – you need to be realistic about your campaign and adjust strategy accordingly.

Aside from just ranking your website, there’s other tactics that will increase your overall organic exposure.

My best piece of advice is instead of fighting aggregator sites, leverage them. Avvo, Justia, Super Lawyers – they’ve done the hard work, they rank for everything.

Avvo SEO

The beauty of these sites is they have their own internal algorithms to rank profiles.

If you optimize your profile to rank in Avvo, you’re essentially ranking for your “money” keywords right off the bat.

avvo-ranking

On top of that, you can pay for ads within Avvo. These are a great way to bypass the ridiculous CPCs for legal keywords in Google, and capture that traffic through Avvo.

The point is, in competitive spaces, you have to realistic about your goals. The competition is only getting stronger, keep your mind open when it comes to capturing “organic traffic” – it doesn’t have to come from Google.

 

keyword-research-attorneys

I’m not going to cover how to find keywords – others have already done that (see Brian Dean’s guide).

Instead, I’m going to cover keyword mapping.

Keyword mapping is the process of optimizing pages and based on keyword intent.

We like to visualize using the “funnel” model.

the seo keyword funnel

“Money” keywords.

  • Intent: Looking for your services.
  • KW examples: Hire a Miami DUI attorney, Boston defense attorneys near me.

“Discover” keywords.

  • Intent: Looking for information on your services.
  • KW examples: Miami DUI attorney reviews, Miami DUI attorney cost,

“Attention” keywords.

  • Intent: Looking for information on their case.
  • KW examples: How to fill out EB-5 Visa, DUI prison sentence length.

The main goal is to rank your “money” keywords. But … we want to dominate and rank for everything.

This strategy allows you to triple your organic exposure and get traffic in the door much faster.

To do so, you need to clearly understand how your keyword list maps to intent.

KW intent mapping

It’s a tedious process, but it helps you clearly understand how your website should be setup and the type of content to populate it with.

 

website-structure

It’s important for rankings and user experience to have an easy to use site.

That means grouping content, navigation and URL structure into organized buckets. Sounds easy, right?

It gets a little more complicated depending on your firm. Speaking strictly from a website perspective, there are 3 types of law firms:

  1. Single service (i.e. DUI attorney)
  2. Multiple services (i.e. you offer contract law, corporate law, criminal law, etc)
  3. Multiple locations (i.e. you have offices in Miami, NYC, LA and London)

1. Single service law firm website

If your firm specializes in 1 type of law (DUI, criminal, etc), structure your site as follows:

Use exact match domain (EMD) for your website URL.

  • Example: www.miamiduilawyers.com
  • I generally discourage the use of EMDs because it cuts down your ability to rank for additional keywords. However, if you only perform one service, EMDs are the way to go.

Add services pages that drill down into your main niche.

  • Example: www.miamiduilawyers.com/our-services/bui, www.miamiduilawyers.com/our-services/criminal-dui, etc
  • By adding these additional services page you’re eligible to rank for niche searches. The more pages/content you create, the more niche traffic you can capture.

One Service Attorney

 

2. Multiple service law firm website

If your firm offers multiple services (i.e. criminal law, corporate law, business law and more), this is how to structure your site:

Use branded domain – NOT exact match domain (EMD).

  • Example: www.smithlaw.com
  • Using an EMD will send mixed signals to Google. For example, www.miamiduiattorney.com/our-serivces/corporate law/ crosses two service categories. It’s best to use your law firm name as the root domain

Add service pages for each offering.

  • Example: www.smithlaw.com/our-services/contract-law/
  • How can Google rank your home page for 10 different services? Creating a separate page for each service affords the ability to rank for multiple offerings

Add sub-service pages to capture additional traffic. 

  • Example: www.smithlaw.com/our-services/contract-law/drafting
  • Drilling down further into your services will help to capture long tail searches

Attorney Website Setup

 

3. Multiple location law firm website

If your firm has multiple office locations (i.e. Miami, NYC and LA), this is how to structure your site:

Add city into URL for each office location. 

  • Example: www.smithlaw.com/miami/our-services/; www.smithlaw.com/nyc/our-services/
  • Most sites with multiple locations add a page for “Locations”. In a competitive niche, this cuts off your ability to rank in multiple cities
  • To rank for local searches, it helps to have the city within the URL string. This requires you to essentially create a new site for each city (within your existing site)
  • This also will require you to rewrite content on your site to avoid duplication penalties

Include a menu navigation to switch between cities. 

  • Example: (see screenshot below)
  • There needs to be a way to inject the city into the URL. Some sites do this via footer, I like to add it above the menu (see below)
  • The way this works is simple – when a user clicks on the “Boca Raton” link, the URL shifts to example.com/boca-raton. This creates the proper hierarchy for search engines to understand your site and rank for multiple locations

website-navigation-multiple-cities

Multiple Location Websites

 

 

local-seo-lawyers

Most of “Local” SEO is covered by the traditional SEO discussed throughout this guide.

However, there are a couple of additional actions you’ll need to take to make sure your site is optimized for local search as well.

Google My Business

GMB plays a HUGE role in local SEO. In fact, GMB listing titles get displayed in localized results, not websites:

Google Local Results Miami Attorney

Your GMB page needs it

Get Verified

If you haven’t already, set up and verify your Google+ Business page: https://www.google.com/business/.

Google will send you a post card in the mail with a verification code. Until you verify your page, you won’t be eligible to show up in localized / maps searches. Do it as soon as you get it!

Optimize Your Page

After you’ve entered the code, click the big red “Edit” button from your “My Business” screen:

set-up-google-business-local

First, edit the title of your page:

  1. Click the pencil icon next to”Business Name”
  2. Name the page with your main keyword first, followed by your brand/business name
    1. For example: Miami DUI Attorney – Smith / Stewart P.A.

Edit Google Places Page

This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. It jams your main keyword into the title (huge ranking boost)
  2. It creates a more click-able title for when you’re ranking

 

Google Local Results Miami SEO

Next, we’re going to edit the description of your page:

  1. Click the pencil icon next to”Introduction”
  2. Write 150 – 200 words about your law firm
  3. Include a description of your services
  4. Link directly to those services pages

Edit Google Business Title

This creates valuable deep links to your service pages (more on links later).

Reviews

Reviews not only help your website rank for local searches, but they pull through valuable stars in the SERP listing.

I’m not going to cover how to get reviews in this post because I wrote about it depth in a previous guide.

Read the guide to reputation management and online reviews.

Local Citations / Directories

Local citations and directory listings are business profiles on websites like FourSquare, Yelp, Yellow Pages and Brown Book.

These citations are valuable to local SEO because they’re essentially online phone books that associate your website with a physical location.

Example of a Local Citation

There are hundreds (thousands) of potential sites to build your firm’s listings in.

It’s a mind numbing process to manually create these listings and it’s easier to outsource.

 

 

content-marketing-for-attorneys

I hope you’ve stuck around to this point – your SEO success hinges on the ability to create and distribute content.

You’ve heard it before: “content is king”.

I hate it.

This buzzword has sites launching blogs with content adding no value. In fact, it’s driving potential clients away.

Allow me put it in perspective.

Let’s say you’re in the market for SEO services. You do a Google search for a couple of agencies in your area and you click on the first couple of results.

Let’s be honest, they all say the same thing. How can you tell the difference?

Every business’ website claims to be an expert . A great blog proves it.

You think I enjoy spending hours on end in front of my computer writing?

I live in Miami. On the beach. Trust me when I say I have better ways to spend my time.

Great content is why I’m able to live in Miami. On the beach. It fuels my business.

Assigning Keywords to Content

Start by heading back to your list of keywords separated by intent.

  1. Use keywords tagged with “Purchase” in “Services” type pages.
  2. Use keywords tagged with “Info” in “Blog” posts.

Using “Purchase” Intent Keywords

This is SEO 101 – I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.

Keywords with purchase intent should be targeted at sales / service pages. Each page should be themed at one main keyword. Include that keyword in:

  1. The URL
  2. Title of the page
  3. <h1> tag
  4. 1 image title
  5. 1 image alt tag
  6. 2 – 3 times throughout the content (page should include at least 350 words of relevant content)

I’ll use the keywords from my “Miami DUI Attorney” as an example.

Main KW: Miami DUI Attorney:

  1. Page URL: www.miamiduiattorney.com
  2. Page Title: The #1 Miami DUI Attorney – Stewart, P.A
  3. Heading 1: Drunk Driving Arrest? Hire The Top Miami DUI Attorney
  4. Image Title: miami-dui-attorney-stewart-pa
  5. Image Alt Tag: Miami DUI Attorney Ryan Stewart P.A.
  6. Content: Write out 500 words on Miami based DUI attorney services. Include 5 – 6 high volume keyword variations as well

Repeat this on every page for every “Purchase” keyword you’re targeting.

Using “Info” Intent Keywords

99% of SEO agencies will stop at “purchase” keywords.

Thing is, you need more than words on a page to get Google’s attention. You need social shares, brand mentions and a lot of high quality links.

Why would someone share your homepage? Why would a website link to your services page about DUIs?

They wouldn’t. I know this. You know this. Google knows this.

If your website has a ton of links pointing to 1 page it looks like spam and your website is going to get bitch slapped by Google.

“Info” type content is what generates real shares and links. That’s why you need a blog.

Let’s go back to the “Info” keywords I generated earlier. Keywords like “DUI trial”, “DUI first offense” and “DUI trial questions” generate a good amount of monthly searches.

These are the keywords to build content around.

That’s the easy part. The hard part is creating content people actually care about.

People don’t care about “10 Reasons to Hire an Attorney”. Give them something they can’t find anywhere else.

You paid $300,000 for an education – show us what you learned!

  1. In depth guides – “What to do When Arrrested for Your First DUI”
  2. Case studies – “How to Beat Your First DUI Arrest”
  3. Infographics – “Visual Guide to Getting Off Your DUI Arrest”

Don’t skimp on the details. Prove you’re an expert. Show why you’re worth $300/hour.

This content drives social shares, links and traffic. More importantly, it establishes your firm as a trusted voice and industry leader for legal advice.

 

link-building-for-attorneys

Links are still the #1 ranking factor. However, it’s not as easy as it used to be.

14 months ago I could rank a site with click of a button. Literally – it was that easy.

Unfortunately, those days are over. Now, you need more than a handful of links.

In competitive verticals, Google ranks sites with authority and trust. Authoritative and trustworthy sites don’t have 1 type of link pointing to 1 page.

Attorney Link Building Process

Building trust with Google is a process. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Social media and forum links to blog content
  2. Link outreach to blog content
  3. Internal links to money pages
  4. White hat link building to money pages
  5. Link buying to money pages

This is a long process – it takes a lot of time, resources and effort. I promise you – if you do what I’m telling you, it will pay off.

1. Social Media and Forum Links

It’s not enough to post links to owned accounts. You’ve got to build a buzz around your site.

The best way to do start is get your content in groups and forums.

The mistake most make is pushing content in front of their target audience.

No one with a DUI is going to share an infographic about a DUI. However, if the content is good enough, your peers will.

Google+ Communities

I’ve generated hundreds of vital +1’s and shares on my links from Google+ Communities.

Google+ Communities

I’ve also gotten banned from hundreds of Google+ Communities.

Moderators are a pain in the butt and will boot you out if they think you’re spamming links. You’ve got to be careful about how and what you post.

Finding Communities are easy. Head to the drop down menu, select “Communities” and search for your keyword in the search bar.

Finding Google Communities

 

Join a few that are related to law. Interact with people and get a feel for what they’re posting.

After a couple of days drop an introductory note with a link to your best piece of content (NOT homepage!). Be consistent and active in these Communities and you’ll get valuable social signals you need for your site.

Quora

Quora is a high visibility question and answer site. I’ve driven thousands of visits in the last few months alone using it.

The key to Quora is finding threads related to the content on your blog.

Let’s say you took my advice and wrote the guide: “What to do When Arrrested for Your First DUI”.

Start by doing a Google search command: site:quora.com what to do dui

Quora DUI Search

This search brought back 6,350 results. Click through and find questions you can answer with your content.

Quora DUI Attorney

Write a response (150 – 300 words) of advice and drop a link at the end.

Rinse and repeat.

2. Link Outreach

Link outreach is great because you can score high powerful “white hat” links for free.

Link outreach only works when you’ve got content worth linking to. You can write perfect emails but no one is going to link to your home page.

3. Internal Linking

Linking pages internally passes link equity and ranking signals. You can use them to pass that valuable juice from your blog content to your money pages by interlinking them.

I’ve written extensively about internal linking in another post: How to Set up Internal Links for SEO

4. White Hat Link Building

Resource Pages

These are dedicated pages listing links to useful resources. To find these pages, use Google search operators:

  1. legal inurl:resources
  2. law inurl:resources
  3. law intitle:resources
  4. legal intitle:resources
  5. legal “resource pages”
  6. law “resource pages”

You get the point. I like to add a city into the search as well. Here’s what I found:

search-result-legal-3

Brought up this result:

search-result-legeal-4

Bingo! A perfect opportunity.

resource-page-link-building

Reach out with a nice note about your law firm and what you should be included in their list of resources.

“Borrowing” Links

Well, not borrowing, stealing. I love this technique because it evens the playing field.

If you land the same links as your competitors you can neutralize their advantage. From there, all you need is a few additional links to easily push past them.

It’s extremely easy to do. In fact, you already did the leg work in your competitive analysis. Remember this?

Hunting for Links for Attorneys

  1. Google your main keyword
  2. Click on the first result
  3. Run Majestic SEO browser plugin
  4. Click through to the Majestic site
  5. Click on the Backlinks tab

You’ll now see a list of the website’s linking to your competitor’s. Simply click through on to each site and look for opportunities to drop a link. These usually come in the form of:

  • Blog comments
  • Guest posting
  • Resource pages
  • Link round ups

The majority of sites will be tough to get links, but the ones you can will give you a huge boost.

Guest Posting

I don’t care what Matt Butts says – guest blogging is a great way to build quality links to your site. Use advanced Google search operators to find opportunities:

  1. legal “accepting guest posts”
  2. legal “write for us”
  3. legal “submit guest post”
  4. legal “guest post opportunities”
  5. legal “guest post courtesy of”
  6. legal “guest bloggers wanted”
  7. legal “contributor guidelines”
  8. legal “contribute to our site”
  9. legal “become a guest writer”

I strongly suggest you write the content yourself – don’t outsource it. It will be a complete waste of your time. Here’s a snippet from a legal website that accepts guest posts:

Guest Blog Example

Any website worth posting on will have high standards. Read through their articles, get a feel for what they publish and replicate it.

Local Press

I’ve been using this technique for a while but have yet to share it.

SEO agencies have been taking out “press releases” for clients for years.

These are merely syndicated statements on sites like PR.com that have little effect on SEO and zero effect on traffic/PR because nobody sees them. They claim that they get sent to real news sites, but never do.

I go straight to the source. Newspapers make money from 2 sources:

  1. Subscriptions
  2. Ads

Since more people turn to the web for their news, revenue models have shifted towards selling ad space.

I’ve landed dozens of links on MiamiHerald.com by reaching out to their advertising team. You can find contact links in the footer:

Links from Real Papers

CALL them, don’t email. Email responses generally get ignored or they tell you they don’t offer that service.

When you call them directly you can negotiate with a sales person. Simply tell them you’re with XYZ law firm looking to drum up online PR and you’re not interested in traditional media buys.

Everyone has a price – it generally ranges in the $400 – $600 range.

It’s expensive, but you get a high quality link, traffic and exposure for your firm.

 

Lawyer SEO Tracking Data

Organic traffic is not free – there’s a considerable investment of time, resources and capital to get results.

To justify the cost, we need to understand the outputs of SEO.

  1. Overall search engine visibility
  2. Overall organic traffic
  3. Organic traffic to “target pages”
  4. Leads and phone calls from organic search

The following sub sections will outline everything you need.

1. Overall search engine visibility

It takes a while for your site to reach the top of Google and start getting traffic (6 to 12 months).

In the meantime, we can measure “SERP visibility”.

SERP visibility = the total number of keywords your website is indexed for.

To check overall visibility:

  • Tool: SEM Rush.
  • What it tells you: How many keywords your site is ranking for over time. It also estimates traffic and the cost of that traffic (if you were to buy it through PPC ads)

serp-visibility

2. Analyzing Organic Traffic

After a few months, your traffic from Google should be picking up. We can easily verify this using Google Analytics:

  • Tool: Google Analytics
  • How to view the report: Audience > Overview (add Organic Segment)
  • What it tells you: How many visitors are coming to your site through search engines

organic-traffic-law-firm

 

3. Organic traffic to “target pages”

While overall organic traffic is good, we want to make sure it’s meaningful traffic. We can dig into that by segmenting organic traffic reports to look at where traffic is going.

  • Tool: Google Analytics
  • How to view the report: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages (add Organic Segment)
  • What it tells you: The pages on your website that are receiving organic traffic. These pages should be your “target pages”, i.e. important landing pages on your site.

organic-traffoc-landing-pages

 

4. Leads and phone calls from organic

Most importantly, we want to know how SEO is impacting your top line. It’s tricky, but we can use analytics to track your firm’s leads and phone calls from organic search.

  • Tool: Google Analytics
  • How to view the report: Conversions > Goals > Overview (add Organic Segment)
  • What it tells you: The number of completed goals from organic search. This should be setup to track both form submission and phone calls.

organic-leads-tracking

 

final-thoughts

 

SEO in the legal space is competitive and there’s so sign of this changing anytime soon. If you want to rank, you’ve got to do things the right way.

If you have any questions, you can reach me here.

Step-by-Step “Technical SEO” Checklist

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    Step-by-Step “Technical SEO” Checklist
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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

We start technical audits the day after a new client signs a contactTechnical SEO matters.

This post contains the same checklist we use to audit our client’s website.

We’re sharing the Google Sheets file so you can rip and download to use for yourself.

The remainder of this post will explain how to perform every step of the audit.

WEBRIS Technical SEO Aidot

NOTE: The audit’s goal is identify errors, not fix them. The best practice is to work with the client’s developer to get the fixes implemented. This does not include keyword research, competitive analysis and link profile analysis. Our audits focus solely on the technical performance and on site factors.


 

 

 

Findability Checks

Findability refers to how easily website information can be found by both search engines and website visitors. This section will cover how accessible your website’s content is to external bots and internal users.

Indexation Status

What is indexation?

  • How many pages on your website are indexed by search engines.

Why does indexation matter?

  • We’re moving to an search algorithm that favors content rich websites. If you operate in a competitive space (i.e. legal) you standard 5 page website just won’t cut it anymore.
  • If you have a lot of content on your website, this will tell you if Google is aware of it.
  • A low indexation rate could point to a number of issues (lack of internal linking, render blocking code on your pages, low domain authority and more).

How can I check my site’s index rate?

  • By going to Google and typing in site:yoursite.com and seeing how many pages show up in Google’s index.
  • By checking your Google Search Console to see how many pages are indexed.

check-indexed-pages seo-indexation-status

Server Uptime

What is server uptime?

  • The ability for your hosting and web server to keep your website online and reduce downtime.

Why does website uptime matter?

  • Website speed and stability are crucial for search engines to index your website regularly and properly.
  • If your website experiences significant downtime, you could experience ranking decreases and push users away from visiting.

How can I check my site’s uptime?

  • You can run a free check using Pingdom.
  • If you’re experiencing ongoing issues, Pingdom offers a quality service (paid) option to monitor your website in real time.
  • For large website, monitoring is a must. If you experience issues with website uptime, upgrade your hosting to a private server or dedicated package.

Robots.txt check

What is a Robots.txt file?

  • This file instructs search engines on how to access your website.

Why does a Robots.txt file matter?

  • You can control how bots can or can’t access your website.
  • It’s recommended to set crawl directives (for search engines), blocked bots

How can I check my site’s Robots.txt file?

  • Visit yoursite.com/robots.txt (it’s publicly accessibly on the web)
  • In Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl > Robots.txt tester

robots.txt-test

More info on Robots.txt optimization

Use of Meta Robots Tag

What is a meta robots tag?

  • This HTML tag is placed in between the <head> code on a page and gives search engines instructions on how to interpret that page specific content (NOT site wide).
  • For example, <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> lets search engines know not to index that page. You can also use this tag to index or noindex images, pages and follow / nofollow links on a page.
  • NOTE: Don’t confuse this NOFOLLOW with the rel=”nofollow” link attribute. A “nofollow” in the <head> section will no follow all links on that page, while the rel=”nofollow” is link specific.

Why do meta robots tags matter?

  • Sloppy web development could have accidentally placed “noindex” directives on important, which would cause your site to have a low index rate.
  • If you have similar or duplicate content on your website, you can place “noindex” tags on 1 of those pages to avoid duplicate content penalty.
  • You might want to “nofollow” external links on certain pages. Search engines crawl from site to site through links, you don’t want spiders exiting powerful pages to other websites.

How can I check my site’s meta robots tags?

  • Dump your URL into Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
  • Under the “Internal” tab, scroll to the right.
  • You will see “Meta Robots 1” and “Meta Robots 2”.
  • These two columns will tell you the directives of each page on your website.

How to Robots Tags

Client Side (40x) Errors

What 40x errors?

  • 40x are “Bad Request” errors take place when the request sent to the web server, fails.
  • There are a number of client side errors that can occur (401, 403) but the most common is a 404 error, which generally happens when traffic is directed to a page that no longer exists.
  • Full list of 40x errors.

Why do 40x errors matter?

  • General rule of thumb, anytime your website isn’t rendering properly for visitors, this is a bad thing.
  • 404 errors in particular go against SEO best practices. When deleting or moving pages, we want to make sure the proper steps have been taken to ensure a proper user experience (UX) and minimal loss of inbound link equity.
  • 404 pages with inbound links or significant inbound traffic should be 301 (permanently redirected) to a similar piece of content on your site.

How can I check my site’s 40x errors?

  • Log into your Google Search Console.
  • Navigate to Crawl > Crawl Errors.
  • You will see a list of 4ox errors occurring on your site.
  • Are these pages you meant to delete? Do they have inbound links pointing to them? Traffic? Consider setting up 301 redirects to manage them.

check-404-errors

Client Side (50x) Errors

What 50x errors?

Why do 50x errors matter?

  • A large spike in these errors could point to an inability for your web hosting and server to manage the requirements of your website, resulting in downtime for visitors.

How can I check my site’s 50x errors?

  • Log into your Google Search Console.
  • Navigate to Crawl > Crawl Errors > Other.
  • You will see a list of 5ox errors occurring on your site (if applicable).

50x-errors-seo

HTML Sitemap Check

What is an HTML sitemap?

  • A sitemap that lives on a web page, not an XML file.

Why do HTML sitemaps matter?

  • HTML sitemaps provide an easily navigable view for website users.
  • In addition, they provide a page that can evenly distribute equity to deep and less crawled pages on your website.
  • Matt Cutts on HTML Sitemaps.

How can I check if my site has an HTML sitemap?

XML Sitemap Check

What is an XML sitemap?

  • An XML file that helps search engines better crawl and understand your website.

Why do XML sitemaps matter?

  • They help improve indexation of your website.
  • You’re able to set a “crawl budget”, i.e. the importance of each page / page type on your website. This is especially important for massive (10K+ pages) websites that want to give preference to set of pages for search engine crawl time.
  • It helps protect your website against duplicate content. Getting a page indexed and list in your sitemap will give you ownership over it.

How can I check if my site has an XML sitemap?

  • Visit yoursite.com/sitemap.xml – do you have one listed?
  • In Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.
  • Here you can view your sitemap or submit one.
  • For WordPress sites, there are dozens of plugins to help you create one.
  • For non WordPress sites, use this tool.

test-for-xml-sitemap

Video XML Sitemap Check

What is a video XML sitemap?

  • A video sitemap helps search engines to quickly identify video content and index it for video searches.

Why do video XML sitemaps matter?

  • If you create video content, a video sitemap will help you rank in Google Videos section. This is a great way to easily boost organic traffic.

How can I check if my site has a video XML sitemap?

  • Visit yoursite.com/sitemap_video.xml – do you have one listed?
  • In Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.
  • Use this tool to generate a video sitemap.
  • Submit your video sitemap in Google Search Console, (Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap).

Image XML Sitemap Check

What is an image XML sitemap?

  • An image sitemap helps search engines to quickly identify image content and index it in image searches.

Why do image XML sitemaps matter?

  • People actively bypass organic results for image results, depending on the query.
  • Getting your images ranked for image based searches can skyrocket organic traffic

How can I check if my site has an image XML sitemap?

  • Visit yoursite.com/sitemap_video.xml – do you have one listed?
  • In Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.
  • Use this tool to generate an image sitemap.
  • Submit your video sitemap in Google Search Console, (Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap).

Use of Pagination

What is pagination?

  • HTML commands (“rel = prev” and “rel = next”) on content that spills over into multiple pages, but should be treated as one.
  • For example, your blog (yoursite.com/blog) might have multiple pages (yoursite.com/blog/2) as you create more content.
  • Pagination tags should be used on the “Next page” and “Previous page” links to alert search engines of this.
  • This also applies to eCommerce sites with multiple product pages and long guides that is broken down into multiple pages.

Why does pagination matter?

  • These tags can help combat duplicate content penalties and low indexation rates.

Check for Custom 404 Page

What is a 404 page?

  • Alerts users and search engines when a page has been removed from your site.

Why do 404 pages matter?

  • Sometimes deleting content (aka 404’ing it) is what’s best for your site, even if people will still be visiting it.
  • If that’s the case, a custom 404 page should alert people where to find other important pages on your website. Use internal links to pass equity to target pages.

How can I check if my site has a 404 page?

  • Type yoursite.com/caijfhjdshfkjdsh into a browser

Check for Subdomains

What is a subdomain?

  • Extensions of your root domain that you can use for a number purposes:
    • Hosting content – setting up a blog – blog.yourdomain.com.
    • Testing – a place to test offline content before pushing live to your final domain – staging.yoursite.com.
    • Private content – we use training.webris.org to host internal training content for staff members.

Why do subdomains matter?

  • They should be integrated into your SEO strategy. For example:
    • blog.yoursite.com should be set to “index” and have it’s own set of directives (robots.txt and sitemap.xml) for proper search engine indexation.
    • staging.yoursite.com should be set to “noindex” to avoid duplicate content penalties and searchers stumbling on content that wasn’t approved to go live yet.

How can I check my subdomains?


 

Architecture Checks

The structure of your website is incredibly important for search engines to properly rank it. This section covers the necessary checks to ensure it’s setup properly.

Check for Breadcrumbs

What are breadcrumbs?

  • A trail, or secondary navigation, clearly visible to website users to help them navigate your website.

Why do breadcrumbs matter?

  • Search engines crawl from page to page through links. Breadcrumbs enforce page hierarchy and navigation to search engines.
  • Breadcrumbs also help users to navigate content, particularly on eCommerce websites with a number of product categories and high page depth.
  • If you have a content heavy website, users can get lost deep in your site. Breadcrumbs help to easily find their place and continue browsing, without having to use the top level navigation to return.
  • This check is better for eCommerce sites, less important for smaller sites with low pages.

How can I check my site’s breadcrumbs?

  • If you have breadcrumbs enabled, you should see them appear underneath your navigation as you dive deep into your site.
  • Not every website needs breadcrumbs, but content heavy and eCommerce websites should always have them setup.

How to setup breadcrumbs in WordPress.

How to code a breadcrumbs menu.

breadcrumbs

Top Level Navigation (TLN) Analysis

What is a TLN?

  • The main menu and navigation on a website.

Why do TLNs matter?

  • TLNs have a tremendous impact on both search indexation and the overall user experience.
  • Users want a logical, easy to use and find menu that clearly directs them where they need to go.
  • Search engines want the same thing – your top pages should be linked to from the TLN, whether that’s a dedicated section or a drop down depends on the amount of content on your website.

How can I analyze my site’s TLN?

  • Are your target pages linked to from your TLN?
  • Are you using SEO optimized titles in your TLN?
  • Is your TLN well organized for user’s to find what they need with minimal clicks?
  • Your TLN should be coded in HTML, NOT JS!

Footer Analysis

Why do footers matter?

  • You can’t link to every page on your website from your TLN (unless you have a small website).
  • Footers provide a great opportunity to pass equity to various pages or sections on your website.

How can I analyze my site’s footer?

  • It really depends on your website’s goals, niche and depth of pages.
  • Generally speaking, I like to use the footer to link to important, non sales pages.
  • Google’s latest update looks hard at the quality and depth of content on your website to ensure that you’re a legitimate, functioning business.
  • FAQ, locations page, privacy policy, careers, HTML sitemap and other pages important pages that search engines look for to determine the quality of your website.
  • It’s important to get these pages crawled by search engines, the footer is the best place to show search engines that these pages are an important part of your website.

Site Depth Check

What is site depth / structure?

  • This refers to the number of ‘clicks’ your pages are away from the starting URL.

Why does site depth / structure matter?

  • Both search engines and users shouldn’t have to click 1,000 times to get to important content on your website.
  • General SEO best practices state to keep important contnet (i.e. pages you want to rank) within 4 click of the starting URL (i.e. your home page).
  • Basically what that means is target pages should be easily accessible from top level nav, footer or located within a few clicks of these pages.

How can I analyze site depth / structure?

  • In Screaming Frog, run a crawl of your website.
  • All the way to the right, click on “Site Structure”.
  • You will see stats about how many pages you have and their depth from the starting URL.
  • Analyze which pages are over 3 clicks and decide if there’s a better place for them to live within your website.

page depth


 

URL Analysis

This section is dedicated entirely to analyzing a website’s URLs for proper optimization. The entire analysis will be done using Screaming Frog SEO Spider for analysis.

URL Delimiter Check

What are hyphens in the URL?

  • The default URL structure should use hyphens (” – “). For example:
    • Good: http://yoursite.com/miami-seo-professionals/
    • Bad: http://yoursite.com/miami_seo_professionals/
    • Worse: http://yoursite.com/miami,seo,professionals/

Why do hyphens matter?

  • Using _ or , as your URL structure causes search engines to read URL strings wrong.
  • Search engines read – as spaces. Using them ensures your content will be read the right way.

How can I check my URLs?

  • In Screaming Frog, run a crawl of your website.
  • Set the tab to “URI”.
  • In the search bar, enter “_”.
  • Filter the results to see if your URLs contain underscores.

NOTE: you can also export your crawl to Excel for better filtering and analysis. 

hyphens-seo-url

URL Friendliness

What is URL friendliness?

  • URLs should be structured (when possible) to be clean, short, memorable and shareable.

Why does URL friendliness matter?

  • User experience signals (SERP click through rate in particular) are increasingly important ranking factors. Short, clean and readable URLs drive more SERP clicks than non friendly URLs.
  • For example, which would you click?
    • http://site.com/cute/10-cutest-puppies-ever/
    • http://site.com/9dfshre/?324323/10sfd-fscutest-pfdsuppies-sdfever/

How can I check my URLs?

  • In Screaming Frog, run a crawl of your website.
  • Set the tab to “URI”.
  • Export data to Excel and analyze.
  • It could be a CMS issue forcing URLs into unfriendly states. If URLs are human generated, you should recommend creating a URL structuring guide for those pushing URLs live to ensure friendliness going forward.
  • Consider changing extremely unfriendly for cleaner ones, 301 redirect old into the new.

Absolute vs. Relative URLs

What are absolute and relative URLs?

  • Relative URLs are often used by web developers as shorthand to code internal links on a website. They do not contain the full URL, but still link to the destination page.
  • Absolute URLs contain the full URL string when linking internally to another page.

Why does this matter?

  • Relative URLs are SLIGHTLY better for page loading times and easier for developers when coding HTML.
  • Absolute URLs are better for SEO as they contain the full URL string, better optimized for search engine crawling.

How can I check my URLs?

  • On any given page on the website, right click and select “view source code”.
  • Find an internal link.
  • If it’s coded as <a href = “http://yoursite.com/link/” > anchor</a>, it’s an absolute link.

relative-URLs


 

“On Page  SEO” Checks

This is the biggest section on the audit. It covers how to analyze individual pages in bulk to uncover issues with the site.

Meta 'hreflang' (used SF signal: 'hreflang=')

What is Meta “hreflang”?

  • Signals to Google which language is being used on a page.

Why does Meta “hreflang” matter?

  • If you have content in different languages on your website, you want to make sure that the appropriate page is served to the searcher based on what language they’re using.
  • Results will be served based on location.
  • Ex. spanish pages with hreflang=es will be served to IP addresses in Spanish speaking countries.

How can I check for Meta “hreflang” on my site?

  • Right click + “View Page Source”.
  • Search HTML for reflang markup (<link rel=”alternate” href=”example.com” hreflang=”es-es” />)

Authorship markup (rel='author' or rel='me')

What is Authorship markup?

  • Shows a rich snippet of the author in the SERP.
  • Attributes content on a page or post to a particular author (i.e. digital signature)

Why does authorship markup matter?

  • Currently Google has suspended authorship markup; however may bring it back in future.

How can I check if I have Authorship markup?

Publisher markup

What is Publisher markup

  • This markup connects the entire website to the publisher.
  • While they can be used mutually exclusive, publisher markup is for companies and authorship markup is for individuals.
  • Similar to how authorship markup shows a picture of the author as a rich snippet, publisher markup shows a summary of the companies google plus page on the right hand side of the screen when someone searches for the company by name.

Why does Publisher markup matter?

  • It good for branding as the searcher will get a snapshot of your company’s name, logo, address, pictures and reviews.

How can I check if I have Publisher markup?

  • Verify that your website is connected to your business google plus page.
  • Check the <head> section of your website for this code <link rel=”publisher” href=”page url”

Page Source META tags (ie:<title>, meta description in head)

What is Page Source Meta tags?

  • The information that is displayed by the search engines in the SERPs about a particular page or website.
  • Your meta descriptions should be no longer than 156 characters. Anything more will get truncated by Google.
  • Your pages should all have meta tags, none missing.
  • Your pages should all have unique meta tags, no duplicates.

Why do Meta tags matter?

  • They matter because they act as descriptors for your site.
  • They tell the user what content they can expect to find when they click on the result.
  • While they have no direct ranking impact, they increase SERP click through rate, which is a ranking factor.

How can I check if I have Meta Tags

  • You can view the source code of your page and look for <title> <description> in the head tag.
  • Check your Screaming Frog report.

Visible <title> tags per page

What are <title> tags?

  • The title of your pages.
  • This should be written both for SEO benefit and to incite a click from the user.
  • It’s best to structure your page title with your main keywords within in.
  • You must keep page title’s to under 65 characters. Anything more will get truncated by Google.
  • Your pages should all have title tags, none missing.
  • Your pages should all have unique title tags, no duplicates.

Why do the <title> tags matter?

  • Title tags are HUGE on page ranking factors.
  • It draws the most attention to the user in the SERP with larger text and highlighted blue.

How can I check my <title> tags

  • Viewing the source code of your page.
  • Using the site:url operator to read your titles in SERPs.
  • Check your Screaming Frog audit.

Page headings (H1)

What are page headings?

  • Aka <h1> tags, are generally found at the top of the page and display the page’s heading (may be different from the title tag).
  • There should only be 1 heading on each page.

Why do H1 tags matter?

  • Tells search engines about important content on the page.
  • A good place to work in LSI keywords different from the main keyword in the title tag.

How can I check my H1 tags?

  • Check your Screaming Frog Audit.

Use of structured data markup (Schema.org)

What is structured data markup

  • A snippet of code (HTML) located in the <header> tag that instructs search engines what your page is about.
  • These markups come in different forms (local business, video, etc) and should be used based on your website and content type.

Why does structured data markup matter?

  • It makes it easier for Googlebot to get to the meat of what your page is about without having to read complex code.
  • For product reviews, having a rich snippet show up on the SERP with stars, which greatly increases click through rate.

How can I check for structured data markup?

Key Content Location

What is key content location

  • The place where important, topical related content appears on the page.

Why does key content location matter?

  • Search engines read content from top to bottom. Topically related content should be mentioned near the top of the page to give the page the most relevancy for the desired topic.
  • Your main keyword should be in the h1 tag and LSI variations of keyword should be placed in h2, h3 (when appropriate) without overtly keyword stuffing.

How can I check the key content location?

  • Right click + “view page source” and search the h1, h2 and h3 tags
  • Use the “find” feature on a webpage to view the location of keywords on the page.

Editorial Strength

What is editorial strength

  • The quality of the content being published (length, authoritative, informative).
  • Determine if the content is compelling enough for link building efforts.

Why does editorial strength matter?

  • Content that is well written, robust and properly optimized will index quicker and rank better in search.
  • Conversely, thin content, duplicate content or keyword stuffed content will not rank well and runs the risk of penalty and/or deindexing.

How can I check the editorial strength of my content?

  • Use Grammarly to check for grammar errors.
  • Use a free online word counter tool to check how many words are in an article and compare that to existing content that’s performing well in the space.
  • Use a keyword density checker like SEO Centro to make sure you’re not over optimizing any keywords.
  • If you’ve outsourced content, run it through Copyscape or at the very least, copy and paste an entire paragraph into Google search to make sure it’s not published anywhere else on the net.

Pages With Thin Content

What is thin content?

  • Pages on a site with very little text and/or without rich media.
  • Pages that serve little to no value to the end user.

Why does having thin content pages matter?

  • Creates a bad user experience and lower your sites quality score.
  • They take longer to index or don’t index at all.
  • Even if they do index, they have very little value and rank poorly.

How can I check for thin content pages?

  • Open Screaming Frog and enter the domain.
  • Scroll over to the right to find “Word Count” and look for pages with less than 300 words (outside of trivial pages ie. contact, about).
  • Consider no-indexing these low value pages.

Image Location

What is image location?

  • Where images on a page are hosted.

Why is image location important?

  • Images can be found in search on the web. If someone finds your image you want the path to direct them to your site.
  • If you’re hosting images on a third party site and that site is terminated, you’ll lose the images on your site.

How can I find the image location?

  • To check images on a page, hover your cursor over the image. The image url will appear in the lower left hand side of your screen.
  • To check images on multiple pages, use Screaming Frog “Images” tab.

Image Sizes

What is image size?

  • The file size of an image (measured in kilobyte).

Why is it important to have images < 100 kb?

  • Larger image sizes slow load time on a page.
  • Slow load time leads to bad user experience having to wait for images to render.
  • Large image files take up unnecessary space on your server.

How can I check the file size of images?

  • For individual images, right clicking on an image and viewing properties/info.
  • To bulk check images, use Screaming Frog “Images” tab and filter by “Over 100 kb”.
  • Use an image editing software to decrease large image files before uploading to site.

Use of Image ALT Tags

What is alt attributes/text?

  • When applied to images, the alt text will appear in it’s place when an image fails to render and gives a description of the image.

Why is it important to use alt text?

  • While it’s not recommended to stuff keywords into the alt text, it is place where you can add relevant keywords for SEO purposes.
  • Search engines are unable to crawl images therefore unable to determine what the image is or deliver it in search queries without alt text.

How can I check if images have alt text?

  • To check alt text of an individual image, right click on the image and view image info.
  • To bulk check alt text, use Screaming Frog “Images” and filter by “Missing Alt Text” to view the images without alt text.

Missing <title>

What are missing title tags?

  • Not having an input into how search engines are seeing your page titles. 

Why do missing title tags matter?

  • Page titles are a ranking factor, they tell search engines what your page is about.
  • Does not give the user a clear indication as to what the content on the page is about.

How can I check if I’m missing <title>?

  • Using the title tab in Screaming Frog.

Duplicate <title> Tags

What are duplicate title tags?

  • When at least 2 pages on your site have the same title.

Why do duplicate titles matter?

  • You run the risk of search engines passing over them as similar or duplicate content. Each page on your site should have a clear, unique message.
  • If pages have duplicate titles most likely they have similar content which would be better suited to merged together to create one robust and authoritative page with a unique title tag.

How can I check for duplicate <title> tags?

  • Screaming Frog  

Title Tag Length

What are optimized title tags?

  • Having less than 65 characters in the title tag.

Why does character size matter?

  • Having more than 65 characters will result in the title being truncated.
  • This can cut off keywords or your message to searchers.

How can I check for title character size?

  • Screaming frog

Missing Meta Descriptions

What are missing meta descriptions?

  • When you don’t enter your own meta description, Google takes what it thinks is the most descriptive part of the content and uses it for the snippet to show users in the SERP.

Why do meta descriptions matter?

  • While filling out the meta description has become less important to tell the search engines what your page is about, it’s still a good place to put in keyword phrases and language that will elicit a click from the user.
  • By not filling out the meta description, you miss the opportunity to frame your snippet the way that you want it to read.

How can I check the for missing meta description?

  • Screaming Frog > Meta description

Duplicate Meta Descriptions

What are duplicate meta descriptions?

  • When two or more pages have the same content in the meta description

Why do duplicate meta description matter?

  • It’s better to either have unique meta description or no meta description than to use duplicate meta description.
  • Each page on your site should have a clear cut message.

How can I check for duplicate meta description?

  • Screaming Frog
  • Google Search Console

 

 

SEO Equity Tests

SEO equity refers to the power of your website and how well it’s being distributed across pages. This section covers how to check SEO equity to ensure it’s not bleeding out.

302 redirects

What is a 302 redirect?

  • Tells search engines that a page has been moved temporarily.

Why do 302 redirects matter?

  • 302 redirects do not pass SEO equity, meaning if you redirect a page, the link value does not pass through.
  • It may prevent content on the new url from indexing because Google believes at some point you will revert back to the redirected url.

How can I check for 302 redirects?

Check for Redirect Chains

What are redirect chains?

  • A string of multiple redirects from one location to another.

Why do redirect chains matter?

  • Having too many redirects may cause the Googlebot to eventually stop following the chain
  • You lose “link juice” with each redirect.

How can I check for redirect chains?

Check for Broken redirects

What are broken redirects?

  • A link that takes you to an error page.

Why do broken redirects matter?

  • Lead to bad user experience
  • Low quality score of your website
  • Negatively affect your ranking in the SERPs

How can I check for broken redirects?

Check for rel=nofollow Stats

What is rel=”no follow”?

  • A command telling Googlebot not to pass any equity, trust or credit through a link.

Why do nofollow links matter:

  • If you want to pass link equity through an outbound link or through an internal link on your site
  • If you’re link building and getting nofollow links, you’re getting diminished returns on your effort

How can I check for nofollow links:


 

 

Google Search Console Audit

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a critical part of an SEO campaign – it should serve as a core part of your technical analysis. These are the step by step checks to run in your account.

Google Analytics linked to Google Webmaster

What is Google Analytics?

  • A data providing tool by Google to monitor and maintain your site’s performance.

Why does GA linked to SC matter?

  • Give you data to improve visibility and user experience on your site
  • It will inform you of critical issues that have an affect on your site’s rankings
  • Give you data that you can use to optimize your website for better conversions

How can I link Google Analytics to Search Console?

  • Sign up for a free account and select one of the methods available to connect your site to Search Console.

Internal Links

What are internal links?

  • Links that point to other pages within your website.

Why are internal links important?

  • Internal links pass link equity across your website.
  • Establishes a hierarchy within a category (read more on “silos”).
  • Improves user experience by making it easier to navigate.

How can I check internal links on my site:

  • Search Console > Search Traffic > Internal Links

Manual Actions

What are manual actions?

  • A spam penalty that has been issued to a website by a manual Google review instead of algorithmic penalty.

Why do manual actions matter:

  • Manual actions penalties can negatively affect your site’s rankings.
  • You have to request Google to remove the penalty once you’ve addressed the issues by submitting a reconsideration request.
  • They can be sitewide or partial – penalties have a major impact on your ability to rank higher in search engines.

How can I check for manual action?

  • Search Console > Search Traffic > Manual Actions

Page Not Found Errors

What are Page Not Found errors?

  • When a page on your website has been removed or moved and the url in question could not be found on your server.
  • A 404 :”page not found error” is shown to the user.

Why are page not found error important?

  • You want to be aware of page not found errors so you can address them properly so users are not landing on error pages.

How can I check for Page not found?

Pages Blocked by Robots.txt

What are Pages Blocked by robots.txt?

  • These are pages on your website that the Googlebot is not crawling due to directives in the robots.txt file.

Why do Pages Blocked by Robots.txt matter:

  • At times, you can accidently block the wrong pages from being indexed by search engines.
  • Simply removing this directive can mean an instant boost in traffic.

How can I check for pages blocked by Robots.txt?

  • Search Console > Google Index > Blocked resources

Check Pages Indexed

What are Pages Indexed?

  • The number of pages on your website that are in Google’s Index, aka eligible to rank in search results.

Why do Pages Indexed matter:

  • If your pages are not indexed, they will not be found in search.
  • Pages not getting indexed is a sign that your site has a penalty or low authority with search engines.

How can I check for Pages Indexed?

  • Pages indexed report in GSC.

Sitelinks

What are sitelinks?

  • Links to pages on your site shown below the meta description in the SERP.

Why do sitelinks matter:

  • Sitelinks have been shown to improve CTR.
  • They present your site as a more authoritative resource.
  • Takes up more real estate in the SERPs.
  • It also allows the user to navigate straight to the pages on your site that are relevant to their search query.

How can I check for sitelinks?

  • Sitelinks are created algorithmically which means there’s nothing you can do to create them.
  • You can choose to tell Google not to create a sitelink for a given page by going to Search Console > Search Appearance > Sitelinks

Sitemap Indexation

What is Sitemap Indexation?

  • The amount of pages on your site that have been indexed.

Why do Sitemap Indexation matter?

  • It will tell you if any URLs are not accessible or are blocked by robots.txt.

How can I check my Sitemap Indexation?

  • Search Console > Crawl > Sitemaps


 

 

Link Issues

Links are an integral part of SEO – this section covers how to uncover potential issues with your website’s internal links.

Anchor text links

What is an Anchor Link?

  • A link embedded in text (hyperlink), typically relevant to the content it’s linking to, that can be clicked on.

Why do Anchor text Links matter?

How can I check the anchor text on my site?

  • Screaming Frog Tool using the outbound links tab.

Broken Links (internal 404 broken links)

What are Broken Links?

  • A standard http response code that indicates the server on which the site is hosted could not find the page requested.

Why do broken links matter?

  • Broken links are natural part of the web however, having too many broken links will give users a bad experience and loss traffic.
  • There are better ways to redirect traffic from 404 to relevant, live material.

How can I check for broken links?

  • Screaming Frog
  • Broken link checker plugin

Check Logo Link

Technical SEO Audit Checklist What is a logo link?

  • I hyperlink in the logo image of the website

Technical SEO Audit Checklist Why do logo link matter?

  • For branding and making your logo synonymous with your homepage.
  • Easy navigate to your homepage by clicking on your site wide logo.

Technical SEO Audit Checklist How can I check for a logo link?

  • Place your cursor over you logo and it will turn into the pointer icon indicating that it’s a live link.

Investigate External Links

What are external links?

  • Links that take the user offsite.

Why do external links matter?

  • Increases the topical relevance of your content.
  • Helps readers find additional resources not included in your site.

How can I check for external links?

  • Screaming from tool external tab.

Use of No Follow Links

What is proper use of nofollow?

  • Typically you want to nofollow outbound links.

Why does use of nofollow links matter?

  • Follow links pass credit, trust and link equity which means you’re telling Google you’re vouching for it.
  • Having too many follow external link will bleed the juice on your website.

How can I check for nofollow links?

  • Screaming Frog tool outlinks tab.

Malicious Links

What are malicious backlinks?

  • Links coming into your site from irrelevant spam sites.

Why do malicious backlinks matter?

  • They can have a direct impact on your seo and cause spam penalties.
  • They can shape the topical relevance of your site.

How can I check for malicious backlinks?

  • Search Console > Links to your site
  • Majestic


 

Social Media Analysis

Social media is undeniably overlapping with SEO. This section covers the technical checks to make sure you’re setup properly.

Google My Business Account?

What is Google My Business?

  • Formerly Google+ Pages, it’s your online business center for everything Google.

Why does Google My Business matter?

  • Getting setup and verified as a Google Business is a massive part of SEO for local businesses. Without it, you can’t rank in local search results.
  • For larger businesses, it’s also a verified review platform and allows you to get setup in Google Maps.

How can I check if I have a G+?

  • Typing in the name, phone and google plus in the Google search bar.

Open Graph Snippet

What is Open Graph Snippet?

  • A meta tag that is used to populate Facebook status box when someone shares your link.

Why does Open Graph Snippet matter?

  • It allows you to control the image, description and title that Facebook pulls through to the status display when you automate a post or someone shares the link to your page.

How can I check if my Open Graph Snippet?

  • Check the source code.
  • Yoast SEO plugin.
  • Typing in the meta tags manually.

Twitter Card Snippet

What are Twitter Card Snippets?

  • Code that you embed into your site that allows an image, title and description of the post to pull through on your tweets.

Why do Twitter Card Snippets matter?

  • They give Twitter users better understanding on the content shared via the link because it shows an image, title and description of the post.
  • Help CTR because people see more information.

How can I check for Twitter Cards?

  • Yoast SEO Plugin.

 

Fuck. That was exhausting.

If you enjoyed this, PLEASE SHARE!

The Complete Guide to Blog SEO

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    The Complete Guide to Blog SEO
    4.65(93.02%)43votes

Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

UPDATED: 1/12/17

Last year alone, our agency drove over 10,000,000 organic visits for clients.

WEBRIS reviews

I’m not showing you these to beat my chest. I’m showing to prove what our strategy works.

This is my ultimate guide to SEO for blogs. In it, I’ll cover:

  1. How to create a blog strategy that drives traffic
  2. How to do keyword research for your content
  3. How to craft blog with an SEO focus
  4. My favorite WordPress plugins that help optimization
  5. How (and where) to build links to your posts

 

Blog SEO Chapter Index

This is a long post (5,000+ words). I included navigational links below that allow you to jump to each chapter:

  1. Chapter One: Blog Strategy
  2. Chapter Two: Keyword Research
  3. Chapter Three: Optimizing Your Content
  4. Chapter Four: WordPress Plugins
  5. Chapter Five: Building Links

 

blog strategy

1. Define Your Audience

I hate writing cliche tips that you’ve already read a million times, but it’s the truth. You need to define your target audience.

I’ll use Webris as an example (we sell Internet marketing and design services).

I target 2 segments with my content:

  1. Business owners / marketing managers (potential customers)
  2. Other marketers

You might think speaking to customers is more important – it’s not. Other marketers provide more value, they are:

  1. Social media amplifiers – they’re more likely to share content
  2. Link sources – the content they create is related to yours. This greatly increases the changes of gaining quality and relevant backlinks (key for your blog’s SEO)
  3. Influencers – Your clients don’t make you an influencer though – your peers do. If you’re viewed as an influencer in your vertical, you can sell water to the ocean.

Make sure your content speaks to more than just potential customers!

2. Create Epic Posts

I really can’t stress this enough. In fact, this is the most important piece of advice I can give you.

You will never have success with blog SEO if you’re not creating amazing content.

I know, I know – I sound like Matt Cutts. As much as I hate the buzzword “content is king”, it’s true.

You have to create content that people want to read, share and come back to.

Otherwise, blogging is a complete waste of your time.

Every time I create something, I ask myself a number of questions:

  1. Does this solve a problem my audience has?
  2. Does this teach my audience a new skill?
  3. Would I share this with my peers?
  4. Is this better than the last thing I wrote?

If it doesn’t meet all of those requirements, I refuse to post it.

If you own a business, you’re an expert at something. Share this expertise – don’t hold anything close to chest.

This type of content sets the building blocks needed for blog optimization.

3. Stop Selling, Start Giving

When I log into my Facebook account I’m overwhelmed by crappy marketers selling even crappier products.

Stop! Please. Just stop.

I’ve been down that road. It’s a waste of time and money.

I created [what I thought] was a great offer, funnel and upsell. I set up some remarketing ads on Facebook and was ready to watch the cash roll in.

That never happened. Here’s what did:

  1. I spent a ton of time tweaking ad copy, targeting, messaging, landing pages, etc
  2. I spent a ton of money advertising my offer
  3. The leads that converted turned out to be duds

In November I launched this site on a new domain (webris.org). I wanted to start new.

I began posting the content to the blog that I was previously charging for. Here’s what happened:

blog-seo-traffic-analytics

blog-marketing-leads-analytics

This site is now driving 1,000 times the weekly leads and they’re 100% FREE.

I no longer have to convince people to opt in – they choose to.

4. Update Consistently

I’m not going to lie to you – maintaining a blog is a bitch. It takes a lot of patience and discipline to continue to create content when you’re seeing no results.

I like to try and write for at least an hour each day. At that rate I crank out a solid update once or twice a week.

Remember, the more content you create the more traffic you’ll drive.

Create a schedule and stick to it.

5. Find Your Voice

The chances are you’re writing about something that’s been written thousands of times so it’s extremely important to show yourself in your writing.

I write like I speak. I use jargon, humor and I curse. Even though I’m writing about professional topics, I don’t care. This is who I am – this is who I am and my readers respect me for it.

keyword research

If you want your content to perform well in search engines you need to understand the search demand and competition of each post you write.

That’s why keyword research is so crucial.

Here are the tools you’ll need:

  1. Necessary: Google Keyword Planner – FREE
  2. Necessary: Moz Bar Browser Plug in – FREE
  3. Optional: Long Tail Pro – $97

KW Research Step 1: Finding Keywords

Lets’ go back to my target segments:

  1. Business owners / marketing managers (potential customers)
  2. Internet marketers

We want to create problem actionable content that solves their problems – how do we know what those problems are?

I use forums and social media groups – specifically, Facebook Groups.

Good, active Facebook Groups are hard to find – but they’re gold.

  1. Log into your Facebook account and use the search bar – I use “SEO” and “analytics”
  2. Click on the Groups with the most members
  3. Join as many as you can – once accepted, look for active groups with NON SPAM threads
  4. Browse the group and look for questions – I use [command + f + ?] to find questions quickly

facebook-groups-keyword-research

Here’s a thread that I found generating a lot of responses:

how-to-use-social-media-groups-keyword-research

I also saw related threads in other groups. Using these threads, I can generate a list of preliminary keywords that has a built in audience.

The ones I came up with were:

  1. Website silos
  2. Link silos
  3. SEO silos
  4. How to create website silos
  5. Silos link juice

Facebook Groups are great, but I also use other sources. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Quora
  2. Google+ Communities
  3. Niche forums (Blackhatworld.com, Yahoo questions)
  4. LinkedIn Groups
  5. Twitter #’s

Blog ideas and keywords are all around you – pay attention!

KW Research Step 2: Flushing out Keywords

If you’re on a budget, use Google’s Keyword Tool – it’s free. If you’ve got some extra funds, I strongly recommend Long Tail Pro.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll be using Google’s tool.

  1. Go to https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
  2. Login with your Gmail account
  3. In the first box, type in some sample keyword searches. I chose:
    • Website silos
    • Link silos
    • SEO silos
    • Silos SEO
    • How to create website silos
    • Silos link juice
  4. Click “Get Ideas”
  5. On the next screen click “Keyword Ideas” tab

keyword-research-for-blogs

The top box will show you the data for the keywords you put into the search field. What we’re looking for here is “Avg. Monthly Searches” (don’t pay attention to the other data because it’s referring to Google AdWords campaigns, not SEO).

  1. Download the entire list as an Excel spreadsheet. Open it and sort the keywords by volume
  2. Take keywords with a high volume, copy + paste them back into the Keyword Tool, and click Get Ideas
  3. Download the new list an Excel spreadsheet. Open it, Copy + Paste the data into the other Excel spreadsheet
  4. Sort the keywords by name and delete duplicates
  5. Repeat this process 3 more times

The goal is to find as many high volume keywords as possible. Try to flush out at least 50 keywords that get 30 or more monthly searches.

Don’t be afraid to focus on finding groupings of long tail keywords. If done correctly, long tail keywords will drive more traffic than your main keywords.

Save the spreadsheet and keep it handy. We’ll be using it shortly.

KW Research Step 3: Analyzing The Competition

Before creating the post you need to analyze the competition.

The goal is to find keywords with high search volumes and low competition.

Start by downloading and setting up the Moz toolbar:

  1. Chrome version | Firefox version
  2. Click the Settings icon and select Display SERP Overlay

Type your website name into Google:

how-to-read-da-and-pa-of-blog-for-seoYou’re looking at 2 factors:

  1. PA (Page Authority) – The ranking power of that individual page (i.e. rankingsite.com/ranking-page)
  2. DA (Domain Authority) – The ranking power of the overall website (i.e. rankingsite.com)

For your website, find the DA and write it down – this is a gauge of the power of your root domain (NOTE: NOT exact science, but still accurate). You will be comparing your DA to the competition’s.

Next:

  1. Re-open your Excel file with list of keywords
  2. Copy the keyword with the most search volume and Paste it into Google
  3. Analyze the DA and PA of the top 4 results returned

The higher the PA and DA of the ranking websites, the harder it will be for you to rank for that specific keyword.

We’re looking for results in the top 4 spots with PA less than 20 and DA similar to yours OR less than 50.

Below is a matrix to help explain:

DA-PA-seo-matrix

Image credit from our SEO agency London partners

  1. For each keyword you analyze, record the result in your Excel file
  2. If the keyword you Pasted into Google returns websites with high DA / PA, highlight that keyword row in red
  3. If Google returns sites low DA / PA, highlight that keyword row in green

Repeat this until you’ve Googled every keyword in your Excel file (below is the Excel file for my post I wrote on SEO silos).

keyword-excel-seo-competition

optimizing conent

6 years ago all you had to do was jam a bunch of keywords into a page and you were golden.

Through the use of semantic search, Google’s gotten a lot smarter.

The algorithm combs your entire page and looks at overall context, synonym keywords and semantic markups. It’s important to keep this in mind when creating your content.

Filter Your Keywords

Filter your Excel list so the keywords with the highest search volume and lowest competition are on top (these rows should be green).

The keyword at the top will be your main keyword – the others we will use as long tails and synonyms throughout your post.

To better illustrate, here were my top 5 keywords for this post:

  1. blog seo – 2,900 searches
  2. seo for blogs – 260 searches
  3. increase blog traffic – 1,170 searches
  4. optimize blog for google – 50 searches
  5. blog post search engine optimization- 40 searches

NOTE: my keyword list contained 40 keywords in total. For the purpose of brevity, I’m only showing you 5.

Using Your Keywords

There are a couple of places you need to inject your keywords:

Title

Creating a title is tricky because it needs to accomplish a few things:

  1. Contain your main keywords
  2. Convince users to click on it
  3. Be under 55 characters (Google’s display limit)

If possible, stick your main keywords at the front of the title. Then, work in secondary keywords.

For this post, I was able to work in my main keyword up front and a secondary keyword behind it:

Blog SEO: How to Optimize Your Blog for Google

The main thing is to include your top keyword and make it legible for users – the rest is a bonus!

URL

Your website should be set up to support permalink structure.

If it does, your URL will be auto optimized based on the title of your post.

For example:

http://webris.org/blog-seo-guide-to-optimizing-your-blog-for-google/

permalink-structure-for-blog-optimization

If your blog is running on WordPress, click Settings -> Permalinks to set it up.

Content

The most important thing is to write a great post that is clear to users. Don’t try and stuff your entire list of keywords in where they don’t read well.

Here’s what I like to do:

  1. Use main keyword in the first 100 words of the post
  2. Use main keyword 2 – 3 times throughout the whole post (no more!)
  3. After I’ve written the post, I go back and look for places I’ve repeated low volume keywords (Control + F)
  4. I then replace them with higher volume, long tail or synonym keywords

Again, Google is getting really good at picking up relevancy. The most important thing is to write a focused article that is clear to users – Google will handle the rest.

Semantic HTML Markups

AKA the use of HTML markup to reinforce the semantics (meaning) of the information in your post.

Most refer to these as <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> tags.

These tags are used as headings and can increase a search engine’s ability to pick up content relevancy.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Your <h1> tag is your title and auto added to your post
  2. DO NOT add additional <h1> tags
  3. <h1> is the most important heading; <h6> is the least
  4. You can use as many <h2><h6> tags as you see fit
  5. <h2> tags should be used as subheadings to break down content
  6. <h3> tags should be used as subheadings to break down <h2> content
  7. <h4> tags should be used as subheadings to break down <h3> content
  8. NEVER skip headings (i.e. go from <h2> to <h4> with no <h3> in between

These tags are best used to organize content – not spam the algorithm. For example:

Good:

<h1>How to Set up Google PPC Ads<h1>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h2>Setting up An Account<h2>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h2>Keyword Research<h2>

<h3>Using the Keyword Tool<h3>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h3>Selecting the Right Keywords<h3>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h2>Bidding on Keywords<h2>

<p>Body content here<p>

Bad:

<h1>How to Set up Google PPC Ads<h1>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h2>Setting up Google PPC Account<h2>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h2>Google PPC Ads Keyword Research<h2>

<h3>Using the Google PPC Ads Keyword Tool<h3>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h3>Selecting the Right Keywords for Google PPC Ads<h3>

<p>Body content here<p>

<h2>Bidding on Google PPC Ad Keywords<h2>

 

Adding these tags are easy if you’re using WordPress:

  1. From the post editor screen, click Text
  2. Locate the text you would like to markup

Wrap the text in desired HTML

how-to-create-h1-h2-tags-for-blog-seo

Images

Image optimization is a pain in the ass. However, it’s vital if you want to rank for competitive keywords.

Naming the File

I’ve seen people write about it for YouTube video SEO, but rarely for image SEO.

  1. Before you upload your image, right click on it and select Get Info
  2. Add a couple of descriptive tags that classify the image
  3. Add fitting title by changing the Name & Extension
  4. Add a small blurb in the Comments section
  5. Close the file

When adding these elements, make sure not to keyword stuff. Simply add in plain English what the image displays.

Here’s an example from an image in this post:

Naming an Image File

Image Title and Alt Tags

Upload the renamed file to your website.

The title will pull through as the Name & Extension from the previous step. This is optimized so there’s no need to change it.

What you need to add is the Alt Tags. Search engines can’t read images so they rely on Alt Tags as descriptors.

The key to a great Alt Tag is being descriptive without keyword stuffing.

Let’s say you have the following image (a screenshot of a Google Analytics SEO Report):

Avg Page Load Report Screenshot

Good Alt Text:

Google Analytics Avg Page Load Report

Bad Alt Text:

SEO Report – WEBRIS the Best SEO Company in Miami – Miami SEO

NOTE: If using WordPress, edit Alt Text on the Media Library upload screen.

Wordpress plugins

If you website isn’t build in WordPress you can skip this section. If it is, these are my top recommendations.

Yoast SEO Plugin

You can’t fully appreciate the power of an SEO plugin until you optimize an HTML website.

The plugin makes optimizing your blog posts a cinch (so easy that I’m not going to cover it in detail here).

WP Smush It

Large images slow down page speed (Google hates slow sites!). This plugin compresses your images and helps to speed up your website.

W3 Total Cache

By far the most powerful caching plugin. It can minify CSS and JS, disk caching, comment removal, browser caching and more.

NextScripts Auto Poster

This plug in allows you to auto push your blog updates to 26 social networks. I’ll cover this in more detail in Chapter Five of this post.

Building Links

Links to your blog posts are critical for SEO.

Luckily, getting links to your blog is 10 times easier than product, service or home page. In addition, it looks more natural to Google (why would 10,000 websites link to your product page about microwaves?!).

There are 5 types of links to utilize:

  1. Social (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc)
  2. Contextual (think links from other blog posts)
  3. Blog comments
  4. Niche forums
  5. Internal (links within your site)

1. Social Links

Over 74% of adults spend time on social networking sites. It looks unnatural if your site generates 1,000 links yet no one’s talking about it on social media.

It’s important to generate a buzz for your posts before building links – otherwise you can trigger penalties / Google sand-boxing.

Here’s how I do it:

a. Social Network Auto Poster {SNAP}

{SNAP} is a free WordPress plug in that pushes your content to:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Blogger
  • LiveJournal
  • Delicious

  • Diigo
  • Stumbleupon
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Plurk
  • Tumblr

Setting up the plug in can be a pain in the ass, as you’ll need to configure API keys for most accounts. Instead, use Fiverr to get it done.

Here’s the gig I use: https://www.fiverr.com/seo5rr/setup-social-networks-auto-poster-snap

b. Buffer

{SNAP} pushes your content out when it’s published. Buffer creates a calendar to re-publish when you want.

Buffer is great to keep fresh signals flowing through your links on auto pilot.

c. Social Media Groups and Forums

Remember how I showed you to find keywords using Facebook Groups? Use those same groups to push some of your content.

Be careful! Group moderators are highly sensitive to blog spam. It’s important to participate in group threads and not just post links to your site.

If your content is good, you’ll get a ton of social signals, shares and traffic.

d. Buy Signals

I’ve built my social media following over time so my links get good organic engagement.

This wasn’t always the case. When I first got started I bought +1’s, Tweets and bookmarks from vendors.

These don’t come close to the strength of signals you generate from your own accounts, but they still help.

I use the following vendors:

  1. http://www.socialsignifier.com
  2. http://www.feedmefollowers.com

e. Create Signals

If you find yourself spending hundreds buying social signals you should look into syndication software (I use Syndwire).

It’s essentially a software that allows you to auto hundreds of social media profiles with the click of a button.

You’ll need hundreds of social media accounts for this to be effective. I don’t suggest you create them yourself:

  1. Hire someone on Fiverr to build accounts (simply search for Syndwire or Onlywire)
  2. Tell them to use proxies when creating accounts
  3. Make sure they add profile pictures to each account
  4. Create profile names based on your niche (i.e. twitter.com/seogurusteve)

The goal is to make these profiles real. Schedule regular updates that contain links to authority sites – not just links to your site!

If you follow those rules your signals will hold more weight.

2. Contextual Links

A contextual link is found within the body of content and is in context with the idea surrounding it.

These are the most powerful links you can get – a few links from quality sites will skyrocket your SEO efforts.

Few marketers know how to correctly acquire and/or build them. This section is going to show you exactly how I build a number of powerful contextual links for my sites.

a. Link outreach

I used to talk a lot of mess about link outreach

I thought it was time consuming and unsuccessful. I refused to do it and would buy/build/use PBN links instead.

Then, I started creating great content like this post and I realized how effective it can be.

I read a lot of blog spam about how to writing ‘the perfect outreach email’ is the key.

The key to link outreach is giving great content to link to.

That’s it.

People only link/share content that can better the relationship with their audience. If you’ve got something of great value link outreach is easy.

Now, let me step down from my soap box now and show you exactly how I land between 3 and 5 outreach links every week.

Crafting the Email

Start by writing the email. That way you can easily fire off emails once you find targets.

Don’t over think the email. In fact, keep it short and to the point.

  1. Open with personalized greeting [Hey John]
  2. Give a brief intro [My name is Ryan Stewart and I’m a marketing consultant]
  3. State why you’re reaching out [I have a piece of content that I think would be perfect for your weekly roundup]
  4. Send the link [http://webris.org/content]
  5. Thank them

Here’s the exact template that I use week in and week out to score links:

Trust me – this template works (even with misspellings)!

Link Outreach Sample Email

Finding Targets

I only do outreach to link roundup targets because these people are actively looking to post links.

Other link outreach techniques are annoying. How would you feel if you got pesky emails asking for links in content you spent weeks writing?

Funny Link Outreach Meme

I do simple Google searches to find link roundup targets:

  1. [insert niche] “weekly link roundup”
  2. [insert niche] “monday link roundup”
  3. [insert niche] “friday link roundup”
  4. [insert niche] “best posts of the week”

Google Link Roundup

Click through on matching results, locate a contact email and fire off your email template.

b. Private Blog Networks (PBN)

I have a powerful 50 site PBN, but I stopped building it 6 months ago. It was taking too much of my time to maintain.

Instead, I buy links on other people’s private networks.

The key to buying links is twofold:

  1. Knowing where to buy them
  2. Knowing how to gauge quality

Part 1: Where to Buy Them

I don’t use BlackHatWorld or Warrior Forum anymore – those links don’t come from PBNs, but BNs (aka not private).

You’ve got to find someone who doesn’t whore out links on their network. These people link to their own personal sites and care deeply about the quality of their network. That ensures the links are not only safe, but powerful.

I use Facebook Groups to find these PBN owners. I’ve never had a problem finding niche specific links on well kept networks.

Here are the Facebook Groups I use:

Part 2: Knowing How to Judge Quality

Most PBN vendors won’t share URLs because they think you might work for Google.

If you insist they send you at least one URL they generally will. Then you can check quality for yourself.

The best way to do that is Majestic SEO’s browser plugin. Simply install the free plugin and run it on the URL you want to evaluate.

Example of Majestic SEO to Evaluate DomainsCitation Flow is a measure of the power of that domain’s inbound links. Trust Flow is a measure of the quality.

I firmly believe Trust Flow is the most relevant measure of link impact. Don’t buy links on domains with a Trust Flow less than 15.

The higher the Trust Flow and Citation Flow, the more powerful the potential link.

c. Web 2.0s

Web 2.0 sites like Weebly, Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger are still good links.

These links are great because:

  1. They’re free (or cheap to outsource the labor)
  2. They’re self hosted on extremely powerful domains

Let’s take a look at one of my Tumblr pages using Majestic:

Using Tumblr to Build LinksAs you can see, Tumblr’s root domain has a Trust Flow of 91.

What does this mean?

  1. Google has tremendous trust in this domain
  2. You can blast the CRAP out of it with tier 2 spam
  3. The quality of the domain will filter out that spam and pass on a ton of link juice to your site

Here’s what I do:

  1. Hire someone on Fiverr to set up 20 web 2.0 sites using subdomains related to my niche (i.e. seoexpert.wordpress.com) – make sure they use proxies and different emails
  2. Set up the web 2.0s with original or spun content
  3. Schedule posts and link to authority sites like Wikipedia
  4. Let them sit for a few months
  5. Buy dirt cheap links on Fiverr, BlackHatWorld and Warrior Forum and direct them at the web 2.0s
  6. Link to the blog posts of your choice

Building Web 2.0 Links

This builds a mini authority PBN on high quality subdomains that you can use to link to your blog posts of choice.

d. Guest Blogging

If you don’t write well, learn.

Guest blogging is really the only way to get links from top sites (it’s also one of the best ways to drive traffic, exposure and trust for your brand).

I hate to beat a dead horse, but the only way you’ll get accepted as a guest author is by writing amazing content.

NOTE: You can hire me to write for you (warning: I’m expensive)

Here’s how I find website to guest post on:

  • Head to http://dropmylink.com
  • Enter your blog’s niche in the search bar
  • Set category to Guest Posts
  • Set Footprint to a variety of options

Make sure your Moz Bar SERP Overlay is turned on. Guest blogging takes a lot of effort – you only want to submit content to website’s with a DA of at least 60.

How to Select a Guest Post SiteBe over selective about which sites you submit guest posts to. If you don’t it will take up a ton of your time and deliver very little in return.

e. MyBlogU

MyBlogU is a content crowd sourcing platform for bloggers. It’s kind of like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) except people actually respond to you.

I’ve had great success on the platform. Here’s how it works:

  1. Head to http://myblogu.com and set up a free account
  2. Fill out your profile with links, info and avatar
  3. Go to the “Brainstorm” section
  4. Check the filter at the top for your niche (I use SEO)

In this section, bloggers / website owners post threads looking for ideas, input and contributions to future posts.

My Blog U Links

You’re not guaranteed links just by sending your ideas. Here’s how I’ve had success:

  1. Only sending ideas to those with a 100% response rate
  2. Only responding to threads that I can answer intelligently
  3. Go over the top with answers – provide a boat load of great information
  4. Add links to relevant posts on your blog within your answer – DON’T jam links your home, product or services page

MyBlogU doesn’t have a ton of users, but it’s definitely worth your time to check it out.

3. Blog Comments

Don’t buy blog comments. I repeat DON’T BUY BLOG COMMENTS!

I don’t care if they tell you they’re using proxies and hand writing them – they’re still spam.

The only way to blog comment is to do it naturally. That means YOU post comments on blogs that YOU read regularly.

Here’s how to blog comment for links the right way:

  1. Grab the URL from your blog that you want to link to
  2. Head to http://dropmylink.com or grab the URL of a quality blog within your niche
  3. Once you have the blog URL, find a post on that blog that’s related to yours
  4. Go to Google and type site:qualityblog.com + “keyword”
  5. You should see articles related to the “keyword” that you typed in
  6. Click on the results and read through most of the article
  7. Scroll to the bottom and leave well thought out response to the article
  8. Drop your link at the end of your post

Here’s a live example of how I do it:

My blog post to promote: http://webris.org/ultimate-list-of-authority-domains-accepting-backlinks/

Target blog to comment on: http://neilpatel.com

Google search: site:neilpatel.com + “backlinks”

Searching For Blog Comment Sites

Blog Commenting The Right WayAs you can see, I also snuck in a request for a link (it didn’t happen).

When done correctly, you’ll see a nice increase in quality traffic as well.

Blog Comments That Work

4. Niche Forums

I love forums. They’re a great place to learn, network, build links and drive traffic.

Good forums are extremely susceptible to link spam so you’ve got to be careful not to get banned.

Dropmylink.com has a forum search, but it’s not very good. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Head to Google
  2. Use the search string inurl:forum “your niche”
  3. Find forums with active discussions related to your blog
  4. Jump in on discussions – drop a link to a blog post when relevant
  5. Rinse and repeat

forum-blog-links

That’s really all there is to it. Don’t buy forums links and don’t copy + paste the same link spam over and over.

5. Internal Links

Linking your content together has tremendous SEO value:

  1. Helps search engines crawl and index more content
  2. Distributes the power of inbound links to other pages on your site
  3. Adds additional signals of relevancy through anchor text

Internal Link Structure for Blogs

I hate to cut this section short, but I don’t like to duplicate efforts.

I wrote a kick ass piece about internal link silos a few weeks back. I strongly suggest you read that piece for in depth details on internal linking.

Closing

Maintaining a blog is a lot of work. However, it’s the best way to increase your organic traffic (and conversions!).

I’m awful at writing conclusions so if you have any questions / comments, please leave them in the comments section below!

I’ll answer them all as they come in.

Steal My SEO Dashboard for Google Analytics

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    Steal My SEO Dashboard for Google Analytics
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Ryan Stewart

Cotent marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

I refuse to spend more than 10 minutes a day in Google Analytics.

That’s why custom Dashboards are so critical – with a glance, you can get everything you need.

You can add up to 12 Reports (or “Widgets”) to each Dashboard. It’s the easiest way to visualize related data into one manageable screen.

A few months back we built an SEO Dashboard. Every widget in the report is pulling different SEO metrics that gives me everything in one simple screen.

seo-analytics-dashboard

One of my favorite things about Dashboard is the ability to share them across accounts. The way it works is simple:

    1. I send you a link
    2. You click on it
    3. My Dashboard gets auto uploaded to your account
    4. Your data pulls through in the reports

Pretty awesome, right?

Well, I’ve included the link to the SEO Dashboard below. I’ve also included a detailed breakdown of each Report / Widget included in the Dashboard.

If you struggle to get actionable SEO data from Google Analytics, use our Dashboard.

If you struggle to create meaningful SEO reports for your clients, use our Dashboard.

In this post, I’m providing:

  1. My link to upload the custom SEO Dashboard
  2. A detailed breakdown of each Report / Widget included in the Dashboard

How to Use the Dashboard

My dashboard consists of 11 different reports that I use to gauge my SEO efforts on client websites.

Before you upload my SEO Analysis Dashboard to your own account, let me run you through each report included.

 

Report 1: Organic Traffic

A lot of Analytics experts will tell you to focus on more meaningful KPIs. I don’t care what they say – traffic is the life blood of your website. This report is set up to filter your data for organic search sessions only.

seo-dashboard-organic-traffic

Report 2: Organic Traffic (Chart)

This is the charted version of above. The data will display based on the time period you select for the Dashboard.

organic-traffic-report-ga

Report 3: Organic Goal Completions

We’re results driven marketers – my biggest concern is how I can drive more meaningful web based actions for my clients. This report is set up to tell you how many goals were completed from organic traffic.

Note: this report requires you to have either Events or Goals set up in your Analytics.

organic-traffic-goal-completions

Report 4: Search Engine Breakdown

Google isn’t the only search engine out there (although according my data, it’s the most important!). This report shows you a pie chart breakdown of which search engines are sending traffic to your website.

search-engine-analysis-report

Report 5: Organic Engagements

Google looks for more than just high quality links and a technically optimized website. Ranking factors extend to on site interactions as well. This report pulls through your top organic landing pages and their time on page and bounce rates.

organic-landing-page-breakdown-report

Report 6: Organic Traffic by City

If you’re a local business or work with local clients, this widget is perfect. It pulls through your top organic traffic sources by city. My attorney SEO clients love this report because it tells them if their clients are coming from their target cities.

organic-traffic-by-city

Report 7: Organic Entrances by Keyword

Google hides over 80% of your keywords due to “user privacy” concerns. I set up a widget that filters out the “not provided” keywords and pulls through the rest. What you’re left with is a handy report that shows you the keywords visitors use to find your website.

organic-entrances-by-keyword

Report 8: Internal Search Data

I care less about what people use to find my site and more what they do once they’ve arrived. I set up a widget that reports back your internal search keywords. This data is great for a number of things, including optimizing your website’s content and architecture.

Note: this report requires you to set up internal search reporting in your Analytics account.

Internal-search-seo-report

Report 9: Mobile vs. Desktop Search Traffic

I used to ignore mobile traffic – big mistake. I included a widget that pulls through mobile organic traffic vs. desktop organic traffic to help understand how users are accessing my sites.

mobile-organic-data

Report 10: Referral Traffic Analysis

Referral traffic is an under utilized measurement of SEO. If you’re building links on high quality websites, you’re going to see a steady stream of referral traffic. I set up a report that pulls through your top referral sources + number of goals they drive.

referral-traffic-seo

Report 11: Page Speed Report

Google loves fast websites. It’s important to keep an eye on your content to make sure there are no errors driving up load times. The final widget reports the pages with highest load times.

seo-page-speed-report