Updated April 2020
Who doesn't want more search engine traffic?
If you want easy to implement effective SEO techniques, then you are in the right place.
These techniques helped me tackle the most challenging keywords and gaining position number 1, featured snippets and backlinks with an increase of over 19% on average in organic traffic and 18% in conversion rates in just 30 days.
Does it sound too good to be true?
Let me prove it to you then.
These are the tactics you are going to read about:
Increase your brand search queries
Improve the user experience on the landing page
Analyse and reduce dwell time on page
Develop content topics rather than keywords
The skyscraper technique
The Domino Technique - backlinks on scale
Optimise for user intent
Optimise for local SEO
Boost organic CTR
Implement featured snippets
Improve internal linking
Refresh existing content
Write content on tangential keywords
Write guest posts for authoritative websites
Use Wikipedia to add backlinks
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase a cost with Udemy, I'll earn a commission, which helps me to keep this blog alive. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind.
1. Increase your brand search queries
According to Rand Fishkin's tweet in 2018, because this is where I have first leant about this technique, building a brand that has more search volumes than all the unbranded search keywords combined is the most ignored SEO technique.
And it turns out it's also the most effective.
People searching your brand on Google are much more likely to click on your search results.
Look, for example, at the brand I currently work at, Future Fit Training. We offer personal training, pilates and nutrition courses UK-wide, and the difference between brand CTR and non branded CTR is massive:
Future Fit Training as a keyword drives a CTR of 50% on average vs "personal training courses" on 7% on average.
Now, imagine if you are able to increase also search volumes.
Let's look at an example of a brand that does this magnificently: MailChimp.com
Now I bet you would say: "MailChimp? the email marketing tool?"
Yes, that one :)
This is the power of the brand: users will go straight to MailChimp rather than looking for "email marketing tools" on Google because the brand power is so strong.
Let's have a look at Google Trends, where you can see that MailChimp search queries are bigger than any non-branded search queries combined:
The question is:
How do you increase your brand search queries?
Here is one simple tactic.
Focus obsessively on your customers.
That tells people two things when visiting your website:
1- This brand is trusted for whatever product they are offering
2- This brand is showing real care about their customers
Research shows that people are more likely to be loyal to a brand and become brand ambassadors when they have a positive experience with a brand.
So when you delight your customers, you can increase the return rate and word of mouth, which in turns means more branded search queries on Google.
2. Improve User Experience (UX) on the SERP landing page
You have probably heard from one of my previous articles that UX is necessary for SEO.
But what you don't know is how to measure it and how to improve it.
(Especially when it comes to tracking users' behaviour from SERPs).
Let's discuss a case study.
Two years ago I was working as Web Analytics Specialist for a quite large website.
When I started analysing the homepage, using heat maps, video recording, and GTM events, I identified 2 major problems:
UX Issue #1
A pretty big area of the home page with "fake links": 31% of people were clicking where there wasn't anything to click, on text that looked like a link.
In UX metrics this translates into high bounce rate (46%), high avg. time on page (because users weren't finding quickly what they were looking for), and high exit rates.
UX issue #2
Actual links were hidden in some kind of badly built accordion, and this created a navigation nightmare. On this accordion, we were listing 14 services titles (not clickable) and 15 sub-services within each of those titles.
This "Our Services" section of the homepage underperformed our expectations.
To counter this issue, I started an A/B test. The idea behind the test is that I would create a second version of the home page with obvious clickable links. In theory, my hypothesis was that the new B version of the home page with more clicks would reduce bounce rate and exit rate, and improve avg. time on page.
This is the new version of the "Our services" section on the homepage:
The UX Results
Let's check Google Analytics page views and bounce rates:
Bounce rate went down from 46% to 25% on average and page views increased from 23,000 on average to over 30,000.
The SEO results
Improving these UX metrics didn't just sent more users from the home page to the rest of the website, but it also sky rocketed SEO traffic.
Why is this happening?
My new theory is that a combination of great improvements for key UX metrics such as lower bounce rate (from 46% to 25%), lower exit rate (from 40% to 22%), more returning visitors and shorter avg. time on page, probably positively affected the dwell time of the entire homepage.
Google's algorithm seems to indeed calculate dwell time of a page by combining different UX metrics.
This brings me to the next SEO technique.
3. Analyse and reduce dwell time on page
Last years I spoke about dwell time at the SMXL Conference in Milan.
Lots of people asked me after my speech to explain Dwell Time.
I was surprised by how little information there is around this topic.
What is Dwell Time?
It's the equivalent of bounce rate time filtered on SEO results. In other word, it's measuring how long users landing from Google stay on your landing before going back to the search engine.
I thought this was impossible to measure as we don't know when users go back to search engine. Also, bounce rate is so easily manipulated on Google Analytics and I didn't believe it's possible that Google actually cares about it.
Then I have researched more about the topic, found out Eric Enge and Rand Fishkin talking about early in 2012 and then Simo Ahava how to track dwell time in Google Analytics using GTM in 2015.
That's when I became interested in this technique.
Lowering Dwell Time became since then one of my favourite SEO target, it consistently signals when users are not happy with search results. This is a great way to analyse if there is something wrong with your landing page.
Used in alignment with other metrics, it can really uncover interesting insights about users' behaviours.
4. Develop content around topics rather than keywords
In 2013 Google released a new algorithm called Hummingbird.
Before Hummingbird, Google only analysed the keywords of your page.
After Hummingbird, Google is also able to understand the topic of your website.
The question is:
How can you optimise for topics?
Here is my process:
1- First of all, optimise your page around your target keywords, like you normally would.
2- Cover sub-topic related to your keywords. This way, Google can fully understand the topic of your page.
For example, this page I have optimised content almost everything around personal training courses.
Because I have started to cover sub-topics two months ago in May 2019 (like Personal Trainer salaries, online courses, how to become a personal trainer, etc...), Google knows what my content is about.
And also because Google can fully understand my topic, now it ranks my page for 312 in total (according to SEMRush).
More importantly, traffic on the landing page grew by 19.55% and conversion rate by 16.87% in just 30 days!
How can you find related keywords?
You can easily use LSIGraph.
This tool shows subtopics that are related to the keyword you have typed in.
Once you have the right page with the optimised topic, start reaching out to people for sharing it.
This is what brings us to the next tactic: the skyscraper technique.
To learn more about this, I'd recommend this course on Udemy. Get over to Udemy and click on "Add to Cart"
5. The skyscraper technique
The name of this technique is coming from Brian Dean, so I give him credit for this.
The landing page I have talked about before was improved in terms of content.
Now let's see the process for implementing this technique using the same case study.
What do you mean Luca? Isn't the case study already finished?
No, because the results you have seen from the previous technique are not just the results of topic optimisation, I have also implemented the skyscraper technique to the page for an extra boost of organic traffic.
Let's see what I have done to achieve 19.55% in organic traffic increase and 16.87% increased conversion rates in 30 days.
Here is the process I have used:
1- Research a linkable asset.
One of our SERP competitors was having more than 280 backlinks according to SEMRush:
This means that this was a linkable asset. The content was so awesome, so useful that 60 domains wanted to share it.
It's easy to find linkable assets. Normally, landing pages that are on position #1 or #2 on Google have many backlinks, so they are considered a linkable asset.
The question is:
How could you produce a linkable asset?
Simple, produce a landing page that is 10x better than the landing page of your competitors.
This is the step number 2: produce a better asset.
The ingredients to make a better asset are to make it longer, better designed and more up to date.
If you competitors are showing 1,000 words landing page, make it 2,000 words.
When your competitors show information from 2017, update the information on your page to 2019.
And finally, when the design and readability can be improved, make sure your design is more captivating.
Step 3: share the content and reach out the right people
Use the previous backlinks from a competitor landing page with SEMrush, or whatever SEO software you can use like Moz and Ahref, allows you find qualified prospects that might link to your asset too.
They have linked to your competitors, so why wouldn't link to your better, more updated content?
Here is how to do it. If you use SEMRush, go to Link Building report > Backlink Analytics and insert the competitors' landing pages:
Then simply export the backlinks report:
Then visit the contact page or find out who is the author of the articles.
You can write a personalised email, or alternatively, you can apply as guest author and submit your post.
Obviously there were a few links to that page that came organically, but some of the best were from The Skyscraper Technique.
6. The Domino Technique - backlinks on scale
There is a problem with building backlinks, many people say you need great content, you need to outreach the right audience ( and I am one of them that encourages reaching out).
They say, me included, if you write great stuff, backlinks will come.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, the problem is without a proper outreaching campaign, this is rarely the case.
That's when The Domino Technique comes into place. I am going to show you how to grow your backlinks ON SCALE and with minimal outreaching.
If you want to do the Domino Technique, 80% of your time is spent on creating an amazing piece of content asset and 20% in outreaching it to authoritative websites.
This is what I call the Domino Technique.
Here is why this technique has to do with the Domino game: you trigger one big, authoritative backlink to pick up your content and then other websites will follow linking to you.
When a big authoritative website such as for example, Forbes, TheGuardian or the Huffington Post link something, smaller websites will link it too.
Let me show you some examples of viral content that's easily shared by authoritative websites.
This campaign about ancient ruins was shared over 217 websites, including The Telegraph, Popular Mechanics, Business Insider, National Geographic and many more.
The campaign shows gifs of ancient ruins brought back to life, to show people how they actually looked like thousand years ago when they were first built.
7. Optimise for intent
Latest algorithm updates and change in human behaviour online are always shaping the SEO profession, as confirmed also by research (PDF).
The users' queries contain some intent and optimising for intent means satisfying users' query.
For example, let's say you search for insurance quote on Google.
The first result is this one:
The first result is about car insurance.
Even without mentioning cars, Google knows what users are looking for.
If enough people search for insurance quotes and click on car insurance quotes, the car insurance quotes results receive a ranking boost.
How to optimise for intent?
Study the SERPs. Google gives huge clues in what people want to see
In this example, people want to compare car insurance quotes so all the top 10 results are about comparisons:
So if you want to rank for "insurance quotes" your best bet is to have a result where people can compare car insurance quotes.
8. Optimise for local SEO
Users' behaviour for local searches is changed in the last few years. More and more people look on Google for local products and services.
So if you have a business that serves a local community, you better optimise for local SEO.
This is the number of searches on Google that show a "near me" keyword:
Local SEO is a lot different from your average SEO campaign, and the local search results are changing more rapidly than any other.
The chart above shows the weighting of local SEO ranking factors on a study conducted by Moz.
What’s the difference between normal SEO and local SEO ranking factors?
Local SEO ranking factors include Google My Business Signals and Review Signals, but also links are very important to rank better.
The question is:
What do you need to rank on local SEO?
You need to appear in the Local 3-Pack. The local SEO 3-Pack is the list of businesses you see first.
Here is the process to optimise for ranking in the local 3 pack:
1- Create a Google My Business page for your company
Check to see whether your business has already been added to the GMB listing: start typing your company name into the “Business name” field and, if there is a matching business, claim it as yours.
If there are no matches, register your company.
2- Verify the address of your company
You can use the same Gmail account you have in Google Analytics and Google Search Console for registering in Google My Business
3- Optimize your business listings
That’s when it gets a bit more complicated. Once the business is registered and/or verified, you’ll need to fill in the information about your company.
Each piece of this info can influence the visibility of your business in search. You will need the following:
- Business name
- NAP data (Name, Address and Phone number)
- Business citations
- Posts, messages, questions and answers.
9. Boost organic CTR
Google collects and analyse signals to understand when people love its search results. One of them is CTR, Click-through-Rate.
When the CTR is very high (hard to say when it’s high but let’s assume it’s above 10%) this tells Google:
“People really like this result, let’s boost the page up on the rankings”.
And the contrary is also true. When people don’t click, Google will drop the website down.
So how can we optimise for CTR?
First of all, you should check on Search Console the poor performing CTRs on each of your key landing page for your website.
Once you find them, apply these best practices:
1- Improve your titles because it’s the most prominent part of your search results
Try many headlines and monitor the CTR to see if you make any improvements.
2- Add a number to your title, for example the title of this article is “16 Advanced SEO Techniques”
3- Use a descriptive URL like this one: https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/best-iphone
4- Setup featured snippet. This technique is great for improving CTR, let’s have a closer look at it in more details.
10 – Implement Featured Snippets
Here’s what Google has to say about featured snippets:
“When we recognise that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”
I have written a very detailed guide on how to setup featured snippets, but here I want to show you why they are so important.
If you think position #1 is great, how about position #0?
The main advantage of a featured snippet is that a URL with featured snippet can jump straight to position 0 and then rank in another position as well.
So, with the featured snippet, Google will show two results in SERPs for your content as opposed to one result only. This will enhance CTR and traffic to the URL.
The best part?
Featured snippets come from the top 10 results on the first page. This means that even if you rank on position #6 or #8, you can still get the featured snippet and jump on top!
You can even measure the impact on CTR and clicks with the report from Search Console:
11- Barnacle SEO
When you can’t rank on page 1 because the target keywords are extremely competitive, then Barnacle SEO is your best bet.
People will discover websites through search engines but lots of SEOs miss this opportunity because they think in SEO terms.
How can you implement this technique?
Here is the process for Barnacle SEO:
Identify top ranking websites for your target keyword.
Note opportunities for links, content shares, advertising and social sharing.
Outreach and execute.
In the example above, let’s imagine we target “best cars 2019”, we can find different opportunities according to what the result is showing.
Does this technique bring any result?
Yes it does and I show you why.
I have adopted this technique with great results. Read my case study to learn more.
12- Improve internal linking
If you have some content ranking on page 2 or 3, you might as well rank on page 20. It doesn’t make any difference.
How can you bring this content back to page 1?
Try improving internal links.
On your website, you have many pages, some of them are more popular and show a higher page authority than others.
Here is the 3-step process to improve internal links:
Get Search Console data to find keywords ranking on page 2 or 3
Choose average position to show ranking for each keyword.
Filter the results by “Position” and get only results greater that 11, which means from page 2 onwards:
Now, click on Impressions and start the report from the highest impression keyword:
If you are getting clicks from a keyword that is on page 2 or 3 and shows thousands of impressions, you can be sure that there is search volume.
Identify authoritative pages on your website
The second step is to find out which pages is worth linking from, you can use SEMRush for this task:
Just enter your URL into the tool and click “Search”. Then go to the Backlinks report > Indexed Pages.
Now you have the list of most authoritative pages by backlinks
Open your page and add the backlinks
Once you have a list of landing pages, add links from them to the page ranking on page 2 and onwards.
13- Refresh existing content
When I have done the SEO content audit for a website, one keyword suddenly got my attention in Search Console:
Apparently, this search term was linked to a piece of content on the blog and was getting over 100,000 impressions per month.
Not only that, but the CTR was really low, below 1%.
That’s when I thought: I need to update and refresh this piece of content.
Specifically, I needed to write more in detail about the Xiphoid process, explain what it is and what are the symptoms.
The final results?
Increase in clicks from 145 to 1,580 and increase impressions from 145K to 251K in 6 months.
Not only this, but the page is constantly receiving traffic from the past 7 months from Google:
How did I do it?
I simply improved the content by providing more information about the Xiphoid Process
This is how the blog post was looking before I refreshed the content:
This is the same article after the refresh:
14 - Write content on tangential keywords
When companies write blog posts, they like to focus on their brands, which is understandable.
But unless you have an internationally recognised brand like Apple, Nike, Airbnb, you are limiting yourself and you won’t attract audience.
That’s when tangential content comes to help.
What is tangential content?
Content topics that are related to your brand.
For example, a company offers online nutrition courses and publishes a new research about the food and dating. Or a travel agency writes about Games of Thrones filming locations around the world.
Benefits of Tangential content
Research shows that tangential content earns more backlinks and social shares in boring industries.
15- Write guest posts for authoritative websites
I have published more than 100 guest posts on small and huge blogs, including SearchEngineLand, SEMRush, HotJar, CrazyEgg, Smart Insights, Megalytic, SEOTools.
My post on SearchEngineLand has produced lots of traffic to my blog, not to mention new backlinks and that increase my ranking on Google and new business opportunities.
And here I am going to explain you how I did this.
Step #1: Find blog targets
You can do several things:
1.1- Check this huge list of sites:
1.2: Guest post backlinks. When I wrote for SearchEngineLand, I have noticed that more than 67 websites shared my piece of content, simply because the website is so popular.
With SEMrush I have found all the 30 linking domains on that blog post of mine and reached out to publish on them too.
It turns out that some of those backlinks are digital marketing blogs, which fits my industry.
Why does this work?
Because you are leveraging on your authority as a Searchengineland.com author. If those websites shared your article, this means they really liked it and you can be confident they want more from you.
If you send them amazing posts, they will always say YES!
Step #2: prepare your guest post
First of all, you need to research your target website and understand what their audience wants.
For this, get over to SEMrush (or Moz or Ahref) and find out which anchor text the linking websites are using to share their articles.
Go to backlinks Analytics > Anchor Report
Excluding the brand mentions, you can see that in the top 10 of shared content pieces, we have the following topics:
Quality content factors list
You have got your most popular content ideas!
If you write an amazing piece of content on those ideas, your chances to be accepted for this huge publication will increase dramatically!
Pro tip: combine the most popular ideas with the oldest ones. You will have more room to write better content when you are updating an old content from, say, 2015 to 2019.
Once you have identified the most shared contents on your target websites, you can write the email, send it and then propose the pitch!
Check out this email that I sent to SearchEngineLand linking websites:
My name is Luca Tagliaferro and I have seen you have shared my article on the marketing funnel published on SearchEngineLand.com.
I have more useful material that I am happy to share with your audience, do you want to see a new original article?
Speak to you soon!
16 - Use Wikipedia to add broken backlinks
Finding broken links in Wikipedia doesn’t have to be a pain. Here is the huge list of all external broken links on Wikipedia:
You need to locate the resource that is relevant for your industry, then in your browser hit Crtl+F to search for a dead link:
Now you have found the broken links, what next?
You could recreate the dead resource on your site and replace it with yours.