Of all the competitive intelligence tools we’ve looked at so far, The Search Monitor is one of the most useful. PPC marketers can use The Search Monitor to examine data on sponsored listings and PLAs across nine ad networks and 1,200 industry verticals, and also offers a ton of geotargeting and custom audience functionality. Well worth checking out.
Take the 10 pillar topics you came up with in Step 1 and create a web page for each one that outlines the topic at a high level -- using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in Step 2. A pillar page on SEO, for example, can describe SEO in brief sections that introduce keyword research, image optimization, SEO strategy, and other subtopics as they are identified. Think of each pillar page as a table of contents, where you're briefing your readers on subtopics you'll elaborate on in blog posts.
Wow, brilliant strategy! I am thrilled to learn something new and effective that isn’t “black hat”. And yes, this does require work, but that’s precisely what it should require. I would rather see sites ranking high because they contribute terrific content (i.e. useful/interesting infographics) to their niche vs. the person exploiting the latest loophole. But that’s just my opinion 🙂

Does your page load quickly, or is it slow to appear? How does the loading time of your page compare to the loading time of another page? What is the actual speed your page loads at? Use this tool to analyze how long your page takes to load at a variety of connection speeds, to view what components of your page take the longest amount of time to load, and see a full breakdown of every component of your page. Also, use our cool "compare two pages" function to load your page side by side with another!
Stop building your SEO strategy around algorithm updates. In search, Google’s goal is the user’s goal. Instead of chasing an algorithm that won’t stand still, place your attention on content that aligns with your user’s intent. For example, HubSpot placed a heavy emphasis on winning featured snippets for important keywords because of its real estate and the great user experience they provide for the user. Here’s how we did it. 
Offer a reward for customers who buy something from you and show that they checked in at your business on Foursquare using their mobile device. When they do this, they’re telling everyone in their network that they’ve done business with you. Each month, reward the person who gave you the greatest exposure by offering a discount, and asking for their email address.

I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.
Great and impressive article! Sounds good, but looks good for blogs where you are giving usefull information to readers, like strategies, advices etc. But unfortunately I can now hardly imagine how I will apply it in the gambling industry, where people are just looking for bonuses, but not for useful content. But I will try, will try to improve firstly user intent.

Stop building your SEO strategy around algorithm updates. In search, Google’s goal is the user’s goal. Instead of chasing an algorithm that won’t stand still, place your attention on content that aligns with your user’s intent. For example, HubSpot placed a heavy emphasis on winning featured snippets for important keywords because of its real estate and the great user experience they provide for the user. Here’s how we did it. 

I think the strategy of creating content that is better still remains the mantra going in to 2020. I really like what you said about better not meaning bigger – e.g. 150 ways to x rather than 15 ways to x. Quality content that is different (but it in a good way) is what should get the recognition and even newish sites can have early success with this method. Thanks for interesting read Brian and I’d love to see a 2020 update (I’m sure you’re working on it!)

Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.


Wow, brilliant strategy! I am thrilled to learn something new and effective that isn’t “black hat”. And yes, this does require work, but that’s precisely what it should require. I would rather see sites ranking high because they contribute terrific content (i.e. useful/interesting infographics) to their niche vs. the person exploiting the latest loophole. But that’s just my opinion 🙂
Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.
Why not? When you skimp on tools, you hinder your marketing from getting better. So, regardless of whether you choose these specific tools or not, make it your goal to find tools that you use regularly. Better tools are equivalent to better marketing. Whatever the tool you choose, make sure that you understand it well and that it makes a measurable improvement on your marketing efforts.
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