In this blog, I have tried to combine all actionable SEO techniques, which I have learned during more than 12 years of experience with SEO.
Of course, SEO changed a lot during this time.
But, main, fundamental principles remained unchanged. I will try to share them here.
Let’s dive in!
The ultimate list of SEO techniques
1. Do your Keyword research
The first, “quick win”, actionable SEO technique you can start implementing right away is keyword research.
Most common newbie SEO mistake is just posting any content, which comes to your mind. Without relying on data. “Just write and your content will start ranking”. Well, you can significantly increase chances of your content for ranking high in Google by organizing it around specific keyword phrases.
There are plenty of keyword research tools – both free and paid.
I really like:
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
- Ubersuggest (free)
If you don’t like to mess with tools – for beginning just use Google autosuggest.
Here is my advanced guide to keyword research.
2. Target low volume keywords
Which keywords to target?
If your site has domain authority (Moz DA) or domain ranking (Ahrefs DR) less than 30 – target only keywords with 30-100 monthly searches. These are the only realistic keywords, for which you can get some traffic.
When your domain becomes stronger DA>35 you can start experimenting with keywords in 500-1000 monthly searches group. But, before that, it will be super hard to rank for these super competitive keywords.
Thing is that in 2019 and beyond these low-volume keywords will bring you millions of visitors.
It is better to rank for low volume keyword on first page (and get traffic), than for high volume keyword on 5th page.
3. Steal keywords from your competitors
This is my favorite keyword research technique.
Why? Because using competitors research you can find super niche, long-tail keywords, for which it is much easier to rank and start getting relevant traffic from Google.
There are bunch of SEO tools to help you with competitors keywords research – Ahrefs, Semrush.
In Ahrefs go to Organic keywords -> Top pages. You will have a list of pages from competing site, filtered by traffic from Google. Also, you can see top ranking keyword for that page.
Amaaazing! Now just create better content, which targets these keywords. Again, start with low-volume keywords in 30-200 monthly searches range.
4. Content gap
In Ahrefs there is an amazing tool – Content gap.
You can enter few competing sites and it will show you for which keywords they rank and your site doesn’t.
It is super useful when your have a bigger site, with tens of thousands of ranking keywords. And it can be hard to track for which keywords you already rank and to plan future keywords.
Content gap – must do SEO technique.
5. Create long-form content
Long-form content tends to rank better. Try to write posts in 1500-2200 words range.
But, remember, that if you add words without additional value – a.k.a. “water content” it won’t work.
Only add more content if it makes sense for a search query. If you can solve search query problem in few paragraphs – it is enough.
6. Answer a search query
What is the most important part of your content? Length, rich content, infographics, embed videos, session time, bounce rate?
One thing which matters is: “can you answer a search query with your content?”
Ideally, your content should give a comprehensive and detailed solution to a user intent, which is suggested by search query.
7. RankBrain is key
Did you know, that RankBrain is among three most important ranking factors for Google? Along with backlinks and content.
RankBrain was a huge Google algorithm update, which literally changed everything.
Before RankBrain, you could just put a lot of keywords in your copy and it would start ranking. It doesn’t work anymore.
Now Google is using advanced AI algorithms to understand the user intent.
For example, if someone is searching for “Olympic Games”. What is the intent? To know the history of Olympic Games, to buy tickets, to get results, etc? It all will depend on location, time, user and many other factors. Look at which pages are ranking first for this query, which intent are they solving?
Google also understands the context, synonyms, paraphrasing, etc – there is no need to artificially put dozens of keywords in your copy with aim to boost it. Just use natural language.
To optimize for RankBrain, you should:
- behind each keyword you are targeting, try to understand the real user intent;
- in your copy focus on answering the intent, in detailed, comprehensive and natural way (without keyword stuffing).
8. Improve E-A-T
E-A-T SEO principles got more attention after 2018 Google algorithm update. In short, E-A-T means:
Nowadays, more and more SEOs use high E-A-T, instead of high quality in relation to content.
Some ways to improve E-A-T:
- include author names
- create a clear “About us”, T&C, Contact pages
- moderate low quality user generated content
- edit or delete low E-A-T content
9. Produce expert roundups
Try to create expert-roundup blog post.
I mean posts like: 11 SEO Experts share link building tactics that really work
First, it gives more authority and social proof to your blog.
Second, it these posts generate backlinks. Some of these experts will be happy to share a link to this blog (which mentions them) in their SoMe or personal blogs.
10. Create infographics
Infographics can easily go viral and attract dozens and thousands of backlinks.
Also, they increase session time and lower bounce rate.
Don’t overthink infographics – for start just select your posts-lists, e.g. Top 10 SEO Chrome extensions and make an Infographic.
There are plenty of good and relatively cheap infographic freelancers on UpWork or Fiverr.
11. Visual content
Overall, you should add more visual content to your blogs.
All kinds of graphs, visuals, tables and so on. If you go to Backlinko blogs, they are super visual. Reading these blogs feels like entertainment, like watching Netflix.
People like visual content more, than just boring text.
12. Rich content
Google likes when your content is enhanced with not only text or visuals, but some e.g. embed elements, which help to answer a search query.
If your post is about top Top Car repair services in Boston, include also a Google map with pinned locations.
If you write about Sites which accept Guest post – embed a handy Google sheet with relevant information.
Try also to embed: click to tweets, styled quotes, polls, quizzes and so on.
13. Guest posts
High-quality guest posts work for me quite nicely.
Here is how my guest posting process.
I try to find a list of websites, which accept guest posts in my niche.
You can find these websites either from blog-lists – e.g. “Top online marketing blogs, which accept guest posts”.
Or try to use different Google footprints.
E.g. to find guest posting opportunities in online marketing niche, I would use these footprints.
- online marketing “guest post”
- online marketing intitle:“write for us”
- online marketing inurl:”write for us”
- online marketing “submit a guest post”
Usually, if you are just starting the process – try to target low to medium authority sites first, where realistically your posts can get accepted.
Outreach is the bread and butter of link building.
It is an ongoing process. While growing your site, you should always find a list of other sites to do outreach and ask them to put a backlink to your site.
Here is some outreach template:
Hey, I stumbled your great blog about [link to target blog]. Great job!
Recently, I created something similar: [link to your blog]
Would you mind checking it out and maybe, linking in your blog or sharing on social? Thanks!
Also, include a few followup emails – they do the work.
Here is my ultimate guide to outreach in SEO.
There are bunch of outreach tools, which can help you, I really like:
Check out my full guide to outreach with Buzzstream.
15. Spend 80% of the time on amplification
Is your site is super new, you should follow this rule: spend 20% of your time on creating content and 80% on promoting it.
I used to create countless blog posts and site grown super slow. Then I changed focus to active amplification and link building – and the site took off. You can have like 10 articles on your blog and 100K monthly sessions if you constantly amplify and build links.
It usually doesn’t work another way around – hundreds of articles, without backlinks and promotion might bring you very low traffic.
By amplification, I mean trying to get instant traffic to your site: starting from social media to influencer outreach.
I will post some main amplification tips below.
16. Post to social media groups
So, when you clicked “Publish” button, what are the next steps?
The easiest thing to do is post it on social media:
Go one step further and promote it in social media groups. Join relevant groups in your niche and try to engage with the community. Don’t over spam, aim for engagement.
17. Niche social media
Apart from big names in social, there are plenty of other a bit smaller social media sites:
- Pinterest – works great for motivational or handcrafting content
- mix.com (former stumbleupon)
Here is a great list of 60+ niche social media sites.
There are also many SoMe, popular in specific geographical locations.
These sites can drive huge referral traffic.
18. Niche forums and communities
Don’t limit yourself only to social media. Good old niche forums and communities can still work: bring traffic and backlinks.
19. Answer questions
There are a bunch of Q&A sites on the Internets.
Quora, Stack Exchange, Yahoo Answers and so on.
If you provide a valuable answer, collect followers there and then occasionally promote your blogs – you can build up nice referral traffic.
In Google Analytics on one of my projects you can stumble spikes of traffic. That’s Reddit.
Reddit can drive huge traffic.
If you manage to get a viral post there with link to your site – you can get thousands of visitors for few days. But, frankly, it is hard with putting links in Reddit as often moderators are quite strict and you get a permanent ban quite easily.
21. Post high-quality comments
I don’t mean Black hat spam comments.
But high-quality ones, where you engage in discussion and contribute value.
Try to add at least 2-3 paragraphs of text and only after, maybe post a link, if it’s appropriate.
Comments can bring these benefits for SEO:
- referral traffic (good comment on high traffic post can bring also traffic to your site);
- warm-up before outreach (if you aim this site as your guest post target, try to first warm up by posting comments – might help to get a positive response);
- no-follow link (most commenting systems by default provide only no-follows, but in my experience if site super high authority, it may still bring some small boost).
22. Link intersect
Similar to the Content gap, in Ahrefs you can track which sites link to your competitors, but not to your project.
It is super handy if you already have thousands of referring domains and want to find more backlink opportunities by analyzing e.g. your top 3 competing websites.
23. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is still super important. However, in my experience, it has less influence than content and backlinks.
There are many factors, in short the structure of your page should be similar to “chocolate donut” page.
It means, that you should give a fast and clear understanding to Google bots about what your content is about.
To avoid going into too much nuances, just use Yoast on-page SEO check. It can be done with free Yoast plugin in WordPress. Or they also have Real-time content analysis tool online. It does a great job!
24. Internal linking
One of the most important aspects of on-page SEO is internal linking.
Yoast (Premium) can also help with that. You shouldn’t have “orphaned content” on your site – i.e. content without internal links from your site.
25. Anchors are important
When other site links back to yours or even with internal links on your own site anchors matter.
For example, a backlink from another site, which links to your article about SEO Chrome extensions is much more valid with anchor: “SEO Chrome extensions” than “this article” or “click this link”. In the first option, you are clearly telling Google bots that article is about SEO Chrome extensions.
26. Identify your top SEO competitors
How to identify your SEO competitors?
You can do it with Ahrefs or Semrush. Go to organic keywords section and see which sites rank for same keywords as yours.
27. Competitors research
Competitors research is one of my favourite techniques in SEO. You don’t need to invent a wheel these days. Almost in every niche, there is already a website. So, just learn from it and do what performs better.
Let’s also dive into technical SEO techniques.
28. Page Speed
Page Speed is a ranking factor. It is also a big pain in the …
It can take countless hours of development work to speed up certain pages just for a tiny fraction of a second.
Check out my actionable guide to page speed optimization.
I will go through some most actionable page speed optimization tips below.
29. Limit HTTP requests
The less HTTP requests – the better. Every time you link another JS file – it slows down your website. Avoid that at all costs.
In WordPress language it means less plugins.
There are bunch of minification plugins for WordPress.
31. Optimize images
Images and other media usually is the number one thing, which slows down your website.
Try to use SVG format where possible, resize and compress your images.
If your site is on WordPress, there are plenty of image optimization plugins:
I personally use Tinify it is free until 400 images compressions every month.
32. Use caching
Majority of good hosting providers (WPEngine, Bluehost, Kinsta) also offer caching in their packages. If your site is quite heavy, caching is a must have.
There are plenty of caching plugins for WordPress:
- WP Rocket
- W3 Total Cache
I use WP Rocket. However, if configured not correctly – it can conflict with other plugins and break your website. 🙃
33. Try AMP
If you really struggle with page speed, UI & UX on mobile – give a try to AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). It is a mobile web framework from Google.
Basically all your mobile pages are hosted on Google server and therefore are lightning fast. Really, on mobile they just load instantly. It is super hard to achieve that kind of performance yourself.
For WordPress there are bunch of plugins:
- AMP for WP
- WP AMP
I would recommend AMP for WP – it has lots of users, good reviews, frequent updates and offers additional widgets.
34. Use CDN
Some hosting packages offer CDN – content delivery network. It means that your content is hosted from closest server to where user is located. It speeds up your content delivery time.
CDN is included in WPEngine. If your hosting doesn’t offer CDN, try Cloudflare.
Make sure that robots.txt is not blocking your site from search engines.
Don’t forget to create Sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console.
In WordPress, Yoast will create a sitemap for you.
There are also other tools, such as https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
37. Track your results
For SEO, data and analytics are crucial. You can read hundreds of blogs, but results may vary for every SEO campaign and only your data will put you on the right track.
I really like Google Analytics and Search Console – these two tools can give you enough data for SEO campaigns of any complexity.
With SEO, you also need to rank track – identify the movement of your keywords in ranking positions.
Some rank tracking tools are: Ahrefs, RankTracker and so on.
38. Optimize low CTR content
In your Search Console you can generate a great report – content with high impressions, but low amount of clicks – i.e. low CTR.
This is your target content, which needs a little boost:
- add more keywords in copy
- optimize on-page SEO (you can use Yoast in WordPress)
- build backlinks to these blogs
- make title more catchy
- just make content better (take inspiration from what ranks above your blog)
39. Optimize 4-10 positions content
Content, which ranks in first 3 positions in Google steals the majority of traffic. Posts, which rank just below first 3 positions – are low hanging fruits for bringing much more traffic.
Do all the same stuff as with low CTR content: build more backlinks, improve content, on-page SEO and so on.
Ahrefs is a great tool to monitor these changes.
40. Don’t forget about 10+ positions
Usually, majority of keywords on any site rank below 10 position or first page in Google.
If you are done with optimizing keywords from lower part of first page start with keywords which rank on second page and try to move them to first. Then third page and so on.
It is super handy to use Ahrefs or other rank tracker for this.
41. Set SEO goals and KPIs
Another SEO technique, which will help you to be more organized, is to set clear SEO goals. Because, in SEO there are too many metrics, you can easily get overwhelmed and distracted.
Focus on these main metrics:
- organic traffic growth
- growth of conversions from organic
- ranking keywords growth
- domain authority
- referring domains growth
In fact, only two SEO metrics matter: organic traffic and conversions. If your traffic is growing and conversions from this traffic are growing as well – everything is good.
Here is my full guide to SEO goals and KPIs.
42. Optimize conversions
When all your SEO machine is running, conversion optimization is becoming the key.
Boosting conversion rate by fractions of one percent, can save your business or bring significantly more revenue.
Of course, it is a topic for completely different article and depends how your funnel looks like. E.g. B2B SEO funnel might look like this:
- number of users visiting website;
- nr of leads – left email address;
- nr of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) – email + additional info;
- nr of SQLs (sales qualified leads) – leads qualified by sales;
- nr of Opportunities – good opportunity for a deal;
- nr of deals/customers – contract signed/bought a product.
You need to go through funnel and try to optimize every part of it.
43. Be patient
Last but not least, one of the most important SEO techniques is patience.
SEO is super hard these days, competition for high-intent keywords is just crazy.
Even for well-executed SEO campaigns it may take 8-12 months to start ranking on the first page of Google and bringing some tangible traffic.
Therefore, it will take time. Be prepared for hard work and be patient.
To sum it up
Hope you guys enjoyed this list! And used at least one SEO technique from it!