You know why the most ambitious people in business love to go to conferences?
Two reasons: networking and learning from the pros.
It’s the ultimate industry geek-out.
Of course, attending will also drain funds from your budget and time from your schedule.
I’ve got the next best thing: advice from some of the best search engine optimization experts.
The experts included below are all about introducing cutting-edge ideas to the SEO industry, and they know how to deliver actionable, valuable tips.
So you know the tips here are juicy.
16 Quotes from the Elite Search Engine Optimization Experts
1. Neil Patel: Don’t ignore nofollow links
I’ve followed Neil Patel’s blog and SEO expertise for years. Who else does marketing experiments like How a Ferrari Made Me a Million Bucks?
(The secret of the Ferrari: It helped him to network with high-value clients.)
Let’s focus on his search engine optimization advice today:
Since nofollow links do nothing to stop people from clicking on them, one of the best benefits of them is the potential for additional traffic to your website.
If you generate a backlink from Entrepreneur, for example, a publication that uses almost no dofollow links, that link is still remarkably valuable [because] Entrepreneur has a massive audience and all of those readers now have a chance of visiting your website.
Now, this will probably confuse you since you’re reading this article on Monitor Backlinks. Aren’t we all about earning backlinks? Aren’t the best backlinks of the dofollow variety? All of that’s true.
I see two points of wisdom in Patel’s advice. First, there’s merit in developing a rich, and varied SEO profile rather than a purely dofollow backlink profile.
You are less likely to trigger concerns with Google. Second, it’s sometimes easier to get a nofollow link from major websites like Entrepreneur.
While those links aren’t meant to pass on much SEO benefit, you can still get high-quality traffic from them. According to TrafficEstimate.com, Entrepreneur.com has over 7 million monthly visitors. One or two backlinks on such a high traffic website could bring you many visitors!
2. Brian Dean: Build backlinks by building skyscrapers
Have you ever heard of the search engine optimization expert advice to create “great content?”
I have! It’s a good idea, but it’s far from complete. What counts as great? How does great content contribute to your SEO goals?
The answer is Brian Dean’s “Skyscraper Technique” process. Dean has quickly established himself as a SEO and marketing expert recognized on the Huffington Post and he has a YouTube marketing channel with over 140,000 subscribers.
This approach combines SEO research, outstanding content creation and promotion. Using this process, Dean has been able to achieve 100%+ search traffic growth in a few weeks.
For more insight on his approach, read his detailed article “Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days.” Since so much effort is required to execute this technique, few of your competitors will use it.
In summary, here are three key steps of Dean’s Skyscraper Technique:
Step 1: Find link-worthy content
Step 2: Make something even better
Step 3: Reach out to the right people.
Tip: As part of your research for this technique, you will need to check the number of backlinks that other URLs have already attracted. You can use the Free Backlink Checker tool from Monitor Backlinks to fill in your knowledge gaps.
3. Barry Schwartz: Leverage the data in Google My Business analytics
Barry Schwartz is the founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and has covered search for over 14 years. In addition, he writes about SEO trends for Search Engine Land. He’s also directly involved in the front lines of marketing as the CEO of RustyBrick, a digital marketing agency in New York.
How would Schwartz help a local business achieve a SEO win? Appearing on page 1 of the search engine results is just part of the story. You also have to sell website visitors about why they should pick up the phone, make a call or come to your location.
How do you make that happen? Take note of Barry Schwartz’s observation about newly available information:
Google My Business insights, the analytics package within the Google My Business dashboard, has added a new report for some businesses that plots what is called ‘subjective attributes.’
Subjective attributes are characteristics or experiences assigned to the business by consumers, such as cozy, romantic or notable cocktails and others.
Google is now plotting these subjective attributes for businesses to see in their insights report.
For more information about this feature, check out the official Google page: “Google My Business Help: About Insights.”
From an SEO perspective, these insights can inform your SEO efforts. If you notice that your customers are already interested in your cocktails, then you can build on their interest in your SEO marketing.
For example, publish more content—videos and photos come to mind—highlighting customers enjoying your cocktails. Many restaurants encourage their customers to take photos of their meals for social media (e.g. Pieology Pizzeria gave away food to encourage social media engagement) already.
If you already have a keen social media following, encourage some of those followers to write a review about the business on your Google Business listing.
4. Vanessa Fox: Seek first to understand news outlets, before asking for backlinks
After working at Google in 2005 to 2007 as product manager of Webmaster Central, Vanessa Fox struck out to become a marketing entrepreneur, author and advisor. She’s the author of “Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy,” and CEO of Keylime Toolbox, a SEO metrics company.
With her background at Google and beyond, Fox knows a lot about the challenge of finding credible and accurate information.
Fox shares the following perspective about news sites and SEO in her article “How Mainstream News Sites Are Making Google Less Trustworthy (And How They Can Help Improve the Accuracy and Credibility of Google Search Results)”:
Ideally, newsrooms should have policies around:
• Not linking to sites and pages they don’t want to help become more visible in online algorithms, or using nofollow attributes on those links
• Linking to sites and pages they do want to help boost visibility to
• Using descriptive anchor text in links to help the linked to pages show up for relevant Google searches
How do you apply Fox’s viewpoint to your SEO? If your link outreach efforts include a request for backlinks and other promotion, be mindful of the position journalists are in. Demanding a link isn’t always going to be the right move.
If you want highly credible, high traffic news websites to link to you, aim to provide the very best content before you ask for a link from a news outlet.
5. Larry Kim: Don’t ignore low-PR websites for linkbuilding
You should only aim to get backlinks from websites with a high PR, right?
It’s a logical place to focus your efforts since those backlinks tend to have high traffic and pass along SEO benefits to you. However, Larry Kim, founder of WordStream and contributor to Search Engine Land, finds the unrelenting focus on high-PR backlinks problematic.
If you’ve zeroed in on high PR websites that you’d like to use to enhance your link building campaign, proceed with caution.
All too often, people are so overzealous about building links on high PR websites that they fail to pay attention to the rankings of the actual pages where their links are published.
Having links on high PR sites is less worthwhile if they are added to dark, dusty, forgotten pages.
Targeting high PR sites is always smart, but be sure to dig a little deeper before moving forward.
Also, remember that a natural link profile will include links from low and medium PR sites as well.
How do you know whether you are overemphasizing high-PR backlinks? It’s simple to find out using Monitor Backlinks.
Open up the Your Links report and look at the domain authority column. In the screenshot below, I have filtered the data to show backlinks with a domain authority of 10 to 50.
6. David Schneider: Get backlinks from expert round ups
Highlighting the expertise of other people is a proven strategy to achieve success online. In fact, the article you are reading right now is based on that approach.
David Schneider, founder of Ninja Outreach (a software company that makes influencer marketing easier), used Expert Round Up articles to get traction for his company. In an interview with Alexander Kehaya, Schneider outlined the concept:
One of the most effective strategies for us has been influencer outreach. Specifically, we did a lot of what we call “Expert Round Ups.”
An expert round up is when you pick a question or topic that you’d like to write about. Then you make a list of about 100 experts whom you’d like to speak to the topic or answer the question. Finally, we used our software to manage our outreach and manage who responded.
It’s a great way to put together an article that is authoritative because it has a bunch of people whose opinions matter and you have a ton of content (thousands of words) and these people will share it when it’s live.
The beauty of this approach is that many of the people you feature will provide backlinks to your content if they like the article.
7. Warren Whitlock: Make content curation about your readers
You’ve heard that content curation is a good way to attract backlinks and grow your network. How do you guide your strategy? If you simply choose links and resources that you find interesting, the end result may not connect with your market. You need a better guiding principle to make content curation work.
To help you achieve that goal, take note of Warren Whitlock’s perspective. He is the co-author of
“Profitable Social Media: Business Results Without Playing Games” and host of an online marketing show on “Blog Talk Radio”.
To make content curation work, keep the end goal in mind:
While content curation is good for SEO and the marketing of your business, you’ll get more long-term results if you remember that your audience is not there to help you.
Everything you write, curate and promote must be of the greatest value of the readers or viewers. Make it all about them, and they will reward you with attention and interest.
How do you put this expert advice into action? Return to the fundamentals of market research. Here are a few ways to make sure your content creation and curation efforts are connected to what your market values.
- Get on the phone with customers. Phone conversations take work, but they are incredibly valuable. If you are a few steps removed from customer interaction, you can indirectly get these insights by interviewing sales representatives.
- Focus your keyword research on questions. Apply your keyword analysis techniques to uncover questions your market has. As a general rule, I like to look at searches and keyword phrases that start with a question word such as what, why and how.
Content curation is an excellent strategy but you can’t rely on it exclusively. You also need to bring your own ideas to the table.
Eric Siu will help us with that.
8. Eric Siu: Get content creation ideas based on analytics
When you first get started in content creation and SEO, you might think it is easy. You come up with new ideas constantly and publish new content daily.
One of the first places I turn for new article ideas is the “Top Content” area found within my Google Analytics account.
There, I’m able to access a quick list of the posts on my site that have been viewed the most often – providing me with some interesting insight into the subject matter that my audience finds most interesting.
Here’s a quick example on how to apply this search engine optimization expert tip to come up with content ideas. Instead of Google Analytics, you can use Monitor Backlinks to achieve the same goal.
- Open Monitor Backlinks and click on Reports
- Download The “Top Linked Pages” Report. Click to export the CSV file.
- Notice which URLs are getting the most backlinks. The number of backlinks a given URL receives is a rough proxy for how it resonates with your market. See the screenshot below for a Cospot.com report I pulled from Monitor Backlinks. This report revealed that “The 20 Most Lucrative Affiliate Niches That Are Evergreen and Sustainable” has the most backlinks
- Brainstorm 5 concepts for content that builds on that success.
Here’s a screenshot of the “Top Linked Pages” report (CSV) format I downloaded from Monitor Backlinks:
Here are the content asset ideas I developed based on the “The 20 Most Lucrative Affiliate Niches That Are Evergreen and Sustainable” content asset:
- The Top Affiliate Niches For Beginner Marketers
- The Top Paying Affiliate Offers For The Health Niche
- Find The Best Paying ClickBank Affiliate Offers
- Investing Affiliate Offers That Pay The Most
- How To Earn $1,000 Per Month In Affiliate Commissions Using This Weird Niche
How do you choose which content idea to deliver? Refer back to your marketing goals to see which of these content ideas is most relevant to what you want to achieve.
9. Rand Fishkin: Publish compelling title tags and meta descriptions
For technical SEO experts, I see one area that is overlooked again and again.
These technical wizards are outstanding when it comes to designing a blazing fast website.
That helps with SEO! But there’s a special marketing skillset you need for success, according to Rand Fishkin.
Fiskin is best known as the co-founder of Moz, an industry-leading SEO tool and blog. He’s also the author of “Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.”
In order to create titles and meta descriptions, you need to combine two skills: SEO analysis and copywriting. Here’s how Fishkin explains this technique in “How to Rank in 2018: The SEO Checklist”:
Yes, Google still does use the meta description quite frequently. I know it seems like sometimes they don’t. However, in fact, there’s a high percent of the time when the actual meta description from the page is used. There’s an even higher percentage where the title is used. The URL, while Google sometimes truncates those, also used in the snippet as well as other elements… How Google displays your result determines whether people want to click on your listing or someone else’s. The snippet is your opportunity to say, “Come click me instead of those other guys.” If you can optimize this, both from a keyword perspective using the words and phrases that people want, as well as from a relevancy and a pure drawing the click perspective, you can really win.
Putting this SEO technique into action requires both technical SEO work and copywriting. Start with your SEO keyword analysis to find the phrases, questions, and concerns in your market.
Read “The Magic Words: How to Do Keyword Research Like an SEO Wizard” if you need some tips in that area. Once you have the raw material from your keyword research, use your copywriting skills to create strong headlines.
Resource: Here are two tips to SEO friendly headlines. First, keep your headlines under ten words, so Google is more likely to display the whole headline to searchers. Second, look for ways to use numbers in the headline (e.g., “7 Powerful Steps to Running a Successful 7-Figure SEO Agency”) to quantify the resource’s benefits.
10. Sujan Patel: Land yourself a Featured Snippet in Google
When your URL gets a featured snippet, your chances of winning a customer’s attention go up substantially.
The best search engine optimization experts do not leave featured snippets to chance. Sujan Patel, the co-founder of Web Profits digital agency and co-founder of Mailshake (an email outreach automation platform), has this advice on how to create a featured snippet in his article “Proven Link Building Tactics for 2018”:
How do you land yourself a featured snippet?
There are a few things you need to consider if you want to increase the odds of your site appearing in a featured snippet.
Your content needs to be featured on the first page of Google for the keyword in question (or Ahrefs believes it does, anyway – and I’m inclined to agree).
Your content needs to answer very specific user queries (long-tail keyword research is your friend here).
Your content needs to be formatted for featured snippets. Things that help here include:
Placing a summary answer directly below a question, and a more detailed answer after that.
Using numbered or bullet point lists.
Highlighting data in chart form (using text – not an image).
What does a successfully featured snippet look like in the Google search results? Let’s say you are marketing a technology product. This is a great niche to get featured snippet results in Google. For the search “how to screenshot on mac,” I received the following result:
11. Marieke van de Rakt: Publish Cornerstone Articles
Best known from her contributions to Yoast—a software company that provides SEO plugins for WordPress—her insights go beyond creating popular SEO software. She advocates focusing your SEO efforts on cornerstone articles:
You should focus your efforts on cornerstone articles. These are the articles you’re most proud of, that fit the mission of your website best. This ultimate guide is, in fact, one of our cornerstones. You want to rank for these articles the most.
If you haven’t decided which of your articles are the most important yet, start thinking about that now. Make these articles the best ones on your site. Give them extra TLC and update them regularly.
What defines a cornerstone article? In my view, these are definitive answers to complex topics. For example, Ramit Sethi has a multi-thousand-word guide on: “Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise & Boosting Your Salary.”
Such guides are part of the reason why his website, iwillteachyoutoberich.com, has over 1 million backlinks from 9,000+ domains according to the Free Backlink Checker.
Bonus tip: SEO is like exercise—you get the best results from consistent use. If you use WordPress, use the Yoast plugin to increase SEO consistency on your content.
12. Guy Sheetrit: Use Quora For Organic Link Building
Every SEO professional starts by focusing on Google. However, there are other less crowded fields to compete in. Take note of Sheetrit’s perspective.
As CEO of the 40+ employee Over The Top SEO agency, he has been active in the SEO industry since 2006. In his view, there are several other search engines to consider beyond Google as he writes in “The Most Underrated Search Engines That Aren’t Google”:
[Quora] is a very interesting and trendy site. It’s a cross between a tailored search engine and an Ask Yahoo style community. Happily the quality is a little higher than the question and answer madness often inhabiting the Yahoo site!
Quora is gathering quite a crowd to it that is drawn by its warm community feel. When you set up your profile and add in your preferred subjects and knowledge areas you are brought to a landing page that is a cross between a Facebook news feed and a Google search page.
It’s an interesting method where you put in your search query and it treats it like a question and provides links to previous questions and discussions as you might receive auto correct suggestions.
If you can’t find anything you can then pose your search as a question to be answered by users with that area set as their interest or knowledge specialty.
There’s potential here for a lot of canny SEO work and organic link building (franchise marketing experts have been using Quora for a while now). It’s worth a look.
In addition to Quora, Sheetrit also recommends exploring other websites like Bing, Dogpile and DuckDuckGo to support your SEO efforts.
13. Bruce Clay: Fix All 404 Errors
You put in the hard work of keyword analysis but how do you apply that information? That’s the art of keyword distribution.
Active in SEO since the 1990s, Clay is the CEO of Bruce Clay Inc and author of “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies.” Here’s Bruce Clay’s perspective with an excellent technical SEO technique:
A 404 “not found” error occurs when a user reaches a page URL that doesn’t exist… A 404 error is especially problematic if the broken page has a lot of inbound links. Just as you can find dead links to competitors and “hijack” them, your competitors can do the same to you. Routinely run reports to identify any 404s. Then 301 redirect each 404 URL to its most relevant equivalent live page (if the page returning a 404 truly no longer exists).
Tip: You can create a custom 404 error page to keep users engaged and on your website. For example, NPR.org does a great job with their 404 page which directs visitors to other articles and resources.
14. Jeff Bullas: Improve your introduction writing skills
Picture this: a prospect lands on one of your “cornerstone articles” and you want to convert them to your email list. How do you keep them on your website long enough to convert? Master the art of writing a good introduction.
Jeff Bullas, an online marketing expert recognized as one of The World’s Top 40 Social Marketing Talents by Forbes, has this perspective on the power of introduction writing in online content from his article “The One Skill That You Need Need To Master in Content Marketing”:
Here are three quick and dirty tips to get you thinking about how to craft your introductions.
1. Open with a question.
2. [Using] Storytelling is another way to start a blog post or an article. Stories have been with us since the dawn of time.
3. Provide a quote.
By the way, don’t let the lack of a good introduction stop you from creating content. It’s sometimes easier to launch into the main body of the content you are creating and go back later to create the introduction.
15. Toni Anicic: Leverage the holidays for SEO success
How do you take advantage of seasonal trends to gain an edge in SEO? Look for holidays and other occasions to market your website.
With a background as a Technical SEO Strategist, Toni Anicic has worked on major clients such as Virgin and MTV. Today, he is focused on internet marketing including SEO for Inchoo, full-service e-commerce agency.
Thanks to Toni Anicic for bringing this classic piece of marketing wisdom to the SEO context:
It’s hard to compete for generic terms such as “Christmas gifts” as the competition is pretty much everyone in the world. Most online stores shouldn’t even attempt that but go with more long tail, niche-oriented holiday-related keywords.
For example, if you’re selling phone cases, instead of trying to rank for “Christmas gifts” do your keyword research and see if there is any volume for “phone cases black Friday” and optimize your landing pages for that. Even with this focus, competition is too fierce in some niches.
What I often see people forget is to add the year to the mix. Many consumers will be adding “2016” to their keywords when searching for holiday gifts and deals. Adding the year as a keyword to most important on-site ranking elements can help a lot with driving relevant organic traffic to your website during the holiday season.
You can create such content as an annual tradition. To see this practice in action, visit The Art of Manliness. The website has published annual gift guides for several years built around different themes and occasions. Check out these examples: “Father’s Day Gift Guide 2018” and “50+ Stocking Stuffers For Women.”
16. Robbie Richards: Create industry resources and calculators to gain backlinks
Creating a calculator is a straightforward way to reliably attract backlinks. This process is easier than you might think.
You probably already have some estimates and rules of thumb you use in your business. You simply need to codify that knowledge into an online tool.
Robbie Richard, the creator of The SEO Playbook course, shares this perspective:
Most people stick to infographics, “ultimate guides,” and other similar kinds of content when trying to build backlinks.
However, did you know that free tools are just as effective, if not more effective, at attracting links?
And I’m not talking about anything particularly costly or magnificent here… It could be something as simple as a visualisation of popular keyboard shortcuts or a calculator.
Want to see an example of this calculator content approach in the wild?
Copywriter Neville Medhora published the Monthly Recurring Revenue Calculator. This simple tool helps you to compare different price points such as $5 per month and $97 per month.
As you might imagine it’s very helpful when you’re thinking through subscription pricing decisions.
How do you apply this calculator tool idea to your business?
Search your files to see if you have a spreadsheet file that you use over and over again in your work. Is there are specific calculation that you’re always running? A specific figure that you always turn to when making decisions?
If you do, you might have a potential industry calculator on your hands.
The Next Search Engine Optimization Expert: You
To build a long-term career in SEO, you need to develop expert level knowledge.
Use these 16 tips as a starting point to achieve results.
Once you learn the fundamentals, you can go “off script” and experiment with new techniques.
Bruce Harpham helps enterprise software companies grow faster through content marketing. Find out more about his SaaS Growth Roadmap service.