2. Targeted Keyword Discovery: Ideally you’ll want to do keyword research based on what the audience wants, not solely on what content the site already has (or plans to have sans audience targeting), which may be limited. I can do keyword research on health conditions and drugs (content I have on my site) and determine what the general population is searching for and optimize my current content, or I can cast my net wide and look at what my target audience wants first, then do my keyword research. You may find there are needs that your site is not meeting. Knowing my senior audience is interested in primarily in prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, I can first make sure I’m providing that content, and then further determine the top keywords in these areas (in the next article Step 2), and use those terms in relevant and high visibility areas on my site.
I consulted a few years ago before Yahoo and CNET and my clients were all small businesses, even friends' sites.  No matter the size of the project, you can still try to get some insight into your target audiences and what they need or want.  I mentioned in a previous comment I used Search once to determine sentiment on a site vs. it's competitors by searching for a feature the site and its competitors all had, along with "like", "love", "hate", "wish", etc.  I also took note of who the people were who said those things and where they were talking (forums, twitter, etc).  It's a hacked manual approach and although not nearly as quality as a good market research report, at least I have a llittle bit of insight before going out to make site recommendations based solely on tags & links.  If you're recommending the site build things that people want (and fix or remove things that they dont), you're more likely to gain links and traffic naturally.
You might be doing all the right things to generate leads -- landing pages, gated content, contests, and more. The problem might be that the design or copy itself isn't driving the engagement you need. A/B test (also known as "split test") different aspects of your list-building campaigns with different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, the color of the gated offer, the time of day you're posting to social media, and even where on your website these signup forms are placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions. 

Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 


 It used to be you would have only one lead magnet on your site and that was sufficient. However, today your content and nurture sequence need to be highly relevant to the exact solution the person is actively looking for. By creating a content upgrade that is specific to a highly-targeted piece of content that is getting lots of attention helps you to raise that relevancy and turn more visitors into email subscribers.”
If you’ve ever looked at your site analytics and yelled “what do you want from me?” you’re not alone. That’s why Inspectlet lets you analyze user activity via eye-tracking heat maps, screen capture, and user interaction analytics. You’ll be able to watch how users interact with your site and figure out where they may get confused. And then get to work fixing those areas.
Search algorithms change constantly — sometimes several times a day. However, the thing that has changed the most over time is the way people search. We just try to keep up. If you continue to provide a solid user experience, strategic content structure, and make sure your site is technically sound, search engines should help people find you. For example, in 2019, HubSpot removed unused 3rd party scripts across HubSpot domains and centralized a list of stakeholders who could add and remove them, significantly reducing the amount of unused javascript that was slowing down the loading time of our webpages, negatively impacting user experience.
When you meet people face to face for any reason, ask for their business card. Offer yours. Set a glass bowl on the counter in your store or the reception desk in your office, and ask visitors to drop their cards in it. Offer some incentive to do so — a free product or service, gift card, etc. Use your own business cards to further drum up emails; add an offer on the back of your card that encourages people to sign up to receive your emails.

Enter in a URL and this free SEO tool will tell you the keyword density of all of the phrases on the page. Find out how strong of a keyword message your content is sending with the Keyword Density Analysis Tool: Get hard numbers on your content ratios to find out if you need more or have too much. Use this tool to ensure a solid balance of keywords within your content and to match the right keywords to the right pages.

Overall, search engines are getting better every day at understanding what the searcher wants. When approaching your SEO strategy, you should approach every decision with the user in mind. First, establish the foundation of your SEO (ranking and crawling) so search engines can find your content and serve it to the user. Then, focus on improving your site’s technical infrastructure (speed, accessibility, mobile, etc) to improve the user experience on your site. Finally, write content to solve for users’ intent. The days of forcing your way to the top of a search result with keyword stuffing are over. It’s the decade of the searcher. 


Dedicate some time to brainstorm all the different ways you can attract inbound links to your website. Start small –- maybe share your links with other local businesses in exchange for links to their sites. Write a few blog posts and share them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Consider approaching other bloggers for guest blogging opportunities through which you can link back to your website.
This is honestly more than a post, Brian: it’s a treasure. I have already bookmarked it! The backlinks work pretty well for me: I started a travel blog 90 days ago and I’m glad that I could reach a DA of 12. I think that I’m gonna try the (shall I call it like this since I have a travel blog?) “Off the beaten path keyword” next. I already have an idea after reading your article, so I ‘ll try to write about it and implement ypur techniques.
Brian. You talk about how all these variables matter in getting this article to rank #1 for “list building” and how competitors have way more links than you, but then you also consider your DA and your PA together, you have almost the highest score out of the top 10 rankings; and when you consider you are more topical authority, then that explains why Hugpages (all purpose site) is not ranking higher. Maybe its not all as complicated as you suggest.
 It used to be you would have only one lead magnet on your site and that was sufficient. However, today your content and nurture sequence need to be highly relevant to the exact solution the person is actively looking for. By creating a content upgrade that is specific to a highly-targeted piece of content that is getting lots of attention helps you to raise that relevancy and turn more visitors into email subscribers.”
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m the [YOUR POSITION] at [YOUR COMPANY]. I was doing some research on [TOPIC] and discovered your guide about [TOPIC]. I really enjoyed it. I never realized that [SOMETHING YOU LEARNED FROM THEIR CONTENT]. Super cool. Anyway, I won’t take up any more of your time. Just wanted to thank you for putting the article together and wanted to let you know that I linked to it from my article: [INSERT NAKED URL] – it’s about [TOPIC].
I consulted a few years ago before Yahoo and CNET and my clients were all small businesses, even friends' sites.  No matter the size of the project, you can still try to get some insight into your target audiences and what they need or want.  I mentioned in a previous comment I used Search once to determine sentiment on a site vs. it's competitors by searching for a feature the site and its competitors all had, along with "like", "love", "hate", "wish", etc.  I also took note of who the people were who said those things and where they were talking (forums, twitter, etc).  It's a hacked manual approach and although not nearly as quality as a good market research report, at least I have a llittle bit of insight before going out to make site recommendations based solely on tags & links.  If you're recommending the site build things that people want (and fix or remove things that they dont), you're more likely to gain links and traffic naturally.
One of the biggest challenges in lead generation campaigns is learning enough about your leads to qualify them. Convertable makes this easier, offering much more data than traditional forms allow, providing you with data on everything from the browser they used and their operating system to the traffic source and the keywords they entered, as you can see in the screenshot below:
Brian , your every post is like a book, I always read your post and try to find a few questions to ask .. but to be honest your posts are that comprehensive that, I don’t find a question to ask because you left nothing unexplained ! I wonder how long you take to prepare a post like this, I probably would take a whole year ! 🙂 Good luck Brian. you are a magician of IM strategies.

Nice work Laura! This is going to be a great series. I'm working my way through SEOmoz's Advanced SEO Training Series (videos) Vol. 1 & 2 to build upon the advice and guidance that you and your team provided to me during my time at Yahoo!. Now many others will benefit from your knowledge, experience and passion for SEO strategy and tactics. Best wishes for great success in your new role.
Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 

To help marketers save time and get more done, we've rounded up our top 99 online marketing tools for small businesses and big businesses alike. This huge list of marketing tools includes (almost!) every tool you’ll ever need to master (almost!) every aspect of a digital marketing campaign, from PPC and SEO to social to content and email marketing. Some tools are very specific, whereas others offer robust, diverse functionality. Some are free, others are not. Either way, you can check out the whole list, or skip to the section on the online marketing strategy you’re most interested in:

Let’s look at another example. Maybe you wrote an long-form guide all about Instagram Marketing called “Top Instagram Marketing Strategies.” You’re mainly targeting the search phrase: “Instagram Marketing Strategy”. Even just a couple of years ago this content would likely rank highly for a vast spread of related queries - now, not so much. Instead of trying to rank for everything with one large guide, you could break out parts of it into smaller, individual blog posts to help rank for more granular queries that come with differing intent. 

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