Category: SEO

13 Advanced Link Building Strategies You (Probably) Haven’t Used

13 Advanced Link Building Strategies You (Probably) Haven’t Used

Copyblogger has long been one of the most authoritative blogs on copywriting and content marketing. While they used to reveal their most popular blog posts in their sidebar (sorted by most comments) it seems that is no longer the case. But what if it was? What if you could analyse any blog and see which of their articles have the most comments, in order.

If you could rank them by how many backlinks those articles have, you’re left with foolproof solution for finding content ideas that attract links and comments. Fortunately, with the technology available today this is totally achievable in minutes and doesn’t require you to fork out for a virtual assistant to do all of the grunt work. In today’s post, I’ll show you exactly how it’s done, and a whole lot more.

While a lot of the ‘whitehat’ link building web is focused on “writing great content” that sole focus could mean you miss out on some great opportunities to improve your standing in Google.

Jon Cooper has one of the best link building minds on the planet, and here’s what he tweeted just a few days ago:


While you can shout “Just write quality content” all day long, those of us who rank in Google are more often than not actively trying to do so. You can still focus on writing great content and add smart link building to your mix.

A Unique Formula for Finding Popular, Linked-to Content You Can Replicate in Any Niche

When it comes to analysing content to see what people are interested in reading about, we already have the likes of BuzzSumo to analyse how popular something was socially, but social shares don’t always correspond to links. What does correspond to links? Getting people talking.

If something is worth commenting on in 2016, it’s far more likely to attract a link. And if you want to attract links to your articles, then write something worth commenting on. Just like you can learn from articles which received thousands of Pins on Pinterest or Likes on Facebook, you can also learn from the success of others in attracting comments and apply that to your own endeavours.

I’m going to dive right into this first tactic and use as my example site to work with.

What I first need to do is find a list of the blog posts on Copyblogger. You could wait around for a virtual assistant to collect all of the links manually but thankfully we have tools like Screaming Frog (free for analysing up to 500 URL’s) which can automate the process for us.

If I just open up Screaming Frog as-is and run Copyblogger through the tool, I start seeing results like the following.


The problem is that most of these results are useless unless I’m analysing their on-site SEO.

They aren’t actual posts from Copyblogger and if you’re using the free version of Screaming Frog, you’ll use up your 500 URL limit very quickly.

Fortunately Screaming Frog does have an Exclude setting, allowing you to pull back only the types of results you’re looking for. Here are some of the terms I have blocked to get a better picture of Copyblogger articles.


In other words, if these words are present in a URL, then Screaming Frog will not list them.

To find this box simply go to Configuration > Exclude and then add the terms you wish to exclude. Think “dot star [word] dot star” if you’re looking to write a list of terms quickly.

Another option to help remove irrelevant results is to go to Configuration > Spider and uncheck most of the options, as shown below.


Now if I run the tool again, I should get some ‘cleaner’ results.


As you can see, I’m finding the actual blog posts that I was looking for with little ‘fluff’.

Once you have your list, use the Save option so you have your list of URL’s.

“This is just a list of pages from Copyblogger. How does that help?”

As you probably guessed, there’s a bit more to this tactic than simply finding all posts on the Copyblogger blog.

The next tool I want to use in my arsenal is URLProfiler which you can find here (not an affiliate link, there are none on this blog). While this is a paid tool you have the ability to scan up to 50,000 URL’s with their 14-day free trial as many times as you want.

I use URLProfiler when I want to extract something from a page and have it linked to a specific URL. In this case, I’ll be extracting the comment counts from each blog post on Copyblogger.

(Note: Screaming Frog does have a similar feature to what I’m about to discuss but I could never get it to work. Also, URLProfiler allows backlink count analysis which you’ll find useful in a moment).

Once you open URL Profiler you want to either copy and paste in your URL’s from Screaming Frog or right click and select ‘Import from Screaming Frog SEO Spider.’ Usually I do the latter. That should look something like this.

There are only 32 links because I don’t want to scrape their entire website. I have data about Copyblogger already.

What we want to do next is head on over to the website in question,, and select the data you want to copy. This is slightly easier to do in Chrome than it is Firefox, but both are suitable. I don’t think Safari, IE or Opera will work.

What I want to copy from Copyblogger, are their comment counts.

Articles that receive a lot of comments are usually great to model in terms of content to write for your own website, and typically receive more links from articles that wouldn’t invoke readers to leave a comment. There’s a lot to learn from articles that get people to actually write feedback on a specific site, rather than social media, and especially so in 2016.

So I head on over to the Copyblogger website and click on an individual blog post. From there I right click on the data I want to copy and click Inspect (I’m using Google Chrome) like so.


Then I need to right click on the element again in the Console window and click Copy XPath, as shown below.

If you’re familiar with Regex and so on then you can use those skills, but XPath has been the simplest one for me to get and it has worked 95% of the time.


Then we want to head back to URL Profiler and follow the steps in the image below.


Now click Apply and let URLProfiler do its thing. Depending on how many URL’s you import the job could take anywhere from a few minutes (less than 500 URL’s) to a few hours (50,000 URL’s).

I then get back an Excel file and with a little cleaning (i.e. removing irrelevant columns from Screaming Frog) I get some very interesting data.


I pulled back 392 articles with at least 10 comments, 221 with at least 50 comments and 81 with at least 100 comments.

Once you’ve done this process once you can be getting new data on any website in a matter of minutes.

Please note: For most websites and web hosts this kind of scraping is likely against their Terms of Service. I don’t accept any responsibility for what may happen if you take this too far (hence this post is titled ‘Advanced’). Please be responsible if implementing this kind of tactic by running the tools during low-traffic hours of the day, not pulling more pages than you need and so on.

Now I know the most commented articles ever written on Copyblogger I can analyse them to work out why they received so many comments. You can also take this further and use URLProfilers option of accessing the Moz or Majestic API (both free) to get backlink data on every single post.

In other words you can see the most commented on and linked to articles on any blog on the planet. For me this has been an absolute goldmine of information for new industries I want to enter and far better than just checking social shares with the likes of BuzzSumo.

I use this process for so many things that I actually rent a server from Amazon so I can run these tools at max speed. When you’re collecting data on over 400,000 URL’s (which was one of my recent crawls) then you can get the data back in a few hours rather than a few days.

If you get creative you’ll find there’s a lot more valuable information you can use this tool-combination on than just analysing link and comment counts.

Thanks to Joshua for his help with the tools needed for this.

Find Private Networks and Link Opportunities (Without Analysing Backlinks)

It’s a well-known tactic in the SEO world to check the backlinks of your competitors so that you can find any possible link opportunities that you can duplicate yourself.

What isn’t so common is to find out where your competitors are being mentioned without links, which may still pose some opportunities.

One such tactic I like to employ is to search for a phone number or email address associated with my competitor.

I’ve actually use the first option to find companies who are relying on other’s to rank sites that they then rent out to that specific business. Then you can delve into that site and see how they’re building links which help them rank.

For example, here’s a website which is ranking for a search term which receives more than 10,000 exact searches per month.


The website is featuring a real brand with a logo, Twitter account and Facebook page which has nothing to do with the domain name of the site I see ranking.

If I search for their phone number instead of just looking at backlink analysis tools then I find another part of their network, here:


This is a totally different site they’re using which also appears to rank well for their chosen keywords.

Another result leads me to a Twitter account with their phone number, and once again I find another website this webmaster is operating.


The keyword tools I use did not find this mini network they’re operating in order to dominate a sector of the pet niche in a certain state of the US.

However, when searching for a phone number (or other key details like the first line of an address, or their email address) you can generally uncover a lot more with your analysis.

AROUND(Number) is a Google Search Operator Which Improves Upon Regular Link-Finding Queries

One query I haven’t seen any other SEO blog touch upon is the AROUND(?) search operator. It has been useful in a number of situations for me in recent months when trying to find specific strings of text in search results.

It has been so useful that I’m surprised I haven’t read about it in the marketing world before — I found it when looking through some programming discussions on Reddit.

What this query allows you to do is essentially find words that are within a certain proximity to each other.

For example, you already know that if you search for niche “submit article” you’ll find sites in a particular niche which accept guest posts. This is a common search query shared on blogs about finding posting opportunities along with “write an article”, “submit your post” and so on.

However, if we search for something like niche “submit” AROUND(4) “article” we can see pages for a specific niche or from a specific website which reveal a sentence where submit and article are not together, but still in close proximity.

Not more than four words apart, in this example.


So what I’ve done here is try to find websites which say submit and guest post within four words of each other and also have the world gold in their URL.

Searching for “submit tip” or “submit guest post” would not have revealed this result.

Look how much more natural that search query is. It’s something you clearly wouldn’t find from a typical “submit article” search and opens up a lot of other link opportunities that SEO’s aren’t finding with commonly shared queries.

For example a sentence could have been “If you would like to submit your article” which a simple “submit article” search prior would not have found.

If you change the number after AROUND (the one in brackets) you increase the allowed space you can have between two words.

Let me give another example of how this query is useful. I recently noticed that some WordPress websites publicly show how much traffic their pages are receiving. This seems to be some kind of option in WordPress – I’m not sure where – but the WordPress forums are full of people wishing to turn it off.

Here’s one such website which reveal their daily pageviews for each article.


My first idea was to simply scrape their website (using the tools in the first tactic) and see which were the most popular articles they’ve ever written. That being said, I no longer run any viral pages on Facebook so I wouldn’t really have anything to do with the information.

I instead decided to check was which other websites reveal this information publicly.

Thanks to the AROUND search operator, I can do exactly that.

(I went to page two for this screenshot since the first page is just people asking how to remove it from their sites)

As we can see, even the USA government are in on the action to help out us marketers.

Now to be totally honest I didn’t find anything too interesting from sites that publicly share their pageviews. I was actually hoping to make a tool out of it but not many big sites share their stats. I found some interesting article ideas on a few sites, but nothing that was really worth the hour or so of trawling through the results.

Just think of all the standard search queries that you can now expand upon and find more natural results. Things like:

  • niche “top tools”
  • niche “recommended websites”
  • Niche “submit a post”
  • Niche “favourite links”

No longer do you need the words to be ‘touching’. You can specify how far apart they can be and broaden your link building horizons.

I’m hoping this query gives you some ideas of custom things you can search for you may not have been able to find previously. As I said, I use it far more than I ever expected it would and now that it’s in your arsenal, I hope you find places it can come into play.

Reverse-Analyse The Links of Successful Flippa Listings

When I used to write articles for SEOmoz (now Moz) back in the day, I wrote an article about four ways of building links that are currently working well for me. While the article was written in 2010, one of the tactics I shared there is still relevant today: Finding sites on Flippa with a lot of search traffic and analysing their backlink sources.

The reason you want to do this is because it’s interesting to see how some websites are ranking quickly, receiving a lot of traffic from search and are able to sustain that traffic. It’s essentially an open diary of what is working in SEO if you focus on the right listings.

For example, here’s a listing that’s live on the website right now.


I have blurred out the name but they’re completely open about these stats (I don’t have to be logged-in to see them) so while I’m not sharing anything others can’t find, I’ll at least protect the URL.

As you can see, their traffic has grown fairly rapidly.

This is only interesting to me if most of it is coming from search, which in this case, it is.


While the numbers aren’t huge, search still makes up most than half of the traffic to the site, and at least 33% of that is coming from the United States (meaning there are more lucrative opportunities for monetising that traffic).

If someone has built a site worth a few thousand dollars in less than a year which relies on search traffic, I’m always curious to know how they got there.

If we analyse their backlinks, it’s an interesting, albeit familiar story:


As you can guess the links they’ve built are pretty awful and almost entirely consist of comment spam.

However, their anchor text is very diverse so I think this is what has helped them stay under the radar and still benefit from these types of links.

Of course, as I often say, it depends what niche you’re in as well. Trying to do this for ‘Gold IRA’ is just incredibly unlikely to work, but an image-based site can certainly benefit from automated and fast link building.

Build a Private Database of Proven Promoters

I first heard about this tactic from Brian Dean on a podcast with Eric Siu a few months ago. The idea is simply to create your own private database of real people who have already shared your content or content that is very similar to what you write about or plan to write about.

You can then use that database to let people know when you publish new content that they may be interested in.

For instance, here are two women who have tweeted content I’ve wrote in the past few days.


If we click on Heidi’s profile (thanks for the tweet, Heidi!) we can see she has a very impressive number of followers and a genuine blog in the internet marketing space.

In other words, she’s the perfect type of person to strike up a relationship with if I want more shares (and potential links) on future content.


Please note that I will not be contacting Heidi or Kellie and request that others don’t either. They just recently tweeted my articles and therefore ended up in this example.

Heidi, like many website owners, does not seem to publicly display her email address. Instead she has a contact form if you wish to get in touch with her. If this is the case with someone you wish to add to your ‘list’ then simply send a friendly thank you email to establish some sort of connection. You’ll also receive that persons email address when they reply to your email.

Kellie on the other hand does show her email address prominently, so while I should still send her a thank you email, I could also add her to a ‘list’ very quickly.

I typically just make a simple spreadsheet in Excel which looks like the following.


I don’t write down any full names as I’ll generally never use them.

You may be curious why I use ‘Company’ as the column heading for the tweet where they wrote about me. This is just a preference based on the email messaging platform I use. When I import the email addresses later, it will ask me what variable I wish to assign tweets to, and I choose Company.

I personally use Reply for my email outreach but there are literally dozens out there so do your research first. I honestly just used the first option that looked good enough for what I needed, but it can get quite pricey.

Once I’ve imported the list, I’ll set-up a campaign to send a message like the following.


Note that I’m using the Company variable for where the link to the tweet they wrote about me will go.

While this is quite a slow process (it can take a minute per email and many people don’t share them publicly) I actually think that adds to its charm. There are less people who are willing to take the time to do it and therefore you’re going to get a better response on your emails.

I haven’t really utilised this much for ViperChill – though I may in future – but have for other sites.

Of course, if the site that you’re trying to promote is new (like mine have been), then you can’t say things like “You previously tweeted an article of mine.”

In that case you need to find similar articles to the one you are looking to promote, and then find the people who shared them on Twitter via their search engine.

You certainly aren’t guaranteed any links with this method, but if you could get an extra 100 Twitter shares on your next article from real people with real followers, you greatly increase your chance of finding the ‘linkerati’ who actually have the power to link to your content.

I did this for my article on ’16 Companies Dominating Google’ a few months back. Someone recommended an influencer who might like the article – they had no idea who I was nor had they ever read ViperChill to my knowledge – and I sent them a quick tweet about the post.

Then this happened.

I’ve never had more than 40 likes on a single tweet so it just goes to show what the right people can do for your promotion efforts.

Sharing good content is often good for the person sharing it, as it shows them as being an authority in their particular field.

Reverse-Analyse Scholarship Link Builders

When I talked about scholarship link building in my state of link building report, I received more hate emails and publicly negativity than I ever have. So much so that one Reddit sub-Reddit went crazy about what a terrible person I was and how I was giving away advice to people who don’t deserve it.

Normally negative feedback really gets me down, but in this case, I totally accepted it.

If you don’t see any moral issue with students taking the time to fill out forms in the hopes of winning a scholarship – when there’s likely 99.9% zero chance you’re even giving away a scholarship – then we couldn’t be any more different.

The example I shared in my last post was a brand new coupons website suddenly deciding to give away a scholarship in the first month of their opening and just got “lucky enough” to pick up dozens of .edu backlinks.

I can not be convinced they weren’t doing it just for links, and more than likely have no scholarship to offer.

I won’t be covering the tactic again, but I will state what there is to learn from the people who do this: What other types of links they build.

People who use scholarship links often:

  • Use donation links
  • Guest post
  • Participate in PIN’s
  • Buy links on websites
  • ‘Sponsor’ software in return for a link

If you want to know what works in the world of SEO, you should be following the people taking the time out to create these scholarship pages and then contacting the universities for a link.

While I don’t agree with their methods, they’re on the pulse of what works.

Here’s the example I shared in the past, and some of the other links that they’ve picked up.


In one minute I’ve found an absolute goldmine of SEO knowledge by just checking one website. I can also replicate every single one of these links if I wished to do so.

I’ve found one site I can donate to (it’s cheap) and two directories which accept links from anyone, as long as you get in touch with them. If I ever went the scholarship link building route (I wouldn’t), there’s two additional places I can get links from as well.

The site was only started in 2016 so those links that shouldn’t really work are starting to pay off for them.


This site is actually small in comparison to another webmaster who is building thousands of donation, scholarship and paid directory links.

Just look at their traffic stats to see what I mean.


They’re around 4x bigger than the first example but following the exact same method of link building.


Start from one source, like websites listed as offering scholarships, and then work your way backwards through other links they’ve built.

This tactic alone will give you more insights into SEO than the Google Webmaster blog.

A Little-Known Reddit URL for Finding Promotion Opportunities

If you’ve been following my journey on my personal blog at Glen you’ll have seen that I shared exactly how I planned to write this article. In one update I wrote,

What I tend to do with articles like this is totally ignore what’s out there on the web until I’m finished my own post. Then I’ll search for something like “Advanced link building tactics” (the topic I’m writing about) and see if there are any great ideas I can include. I’ll try to add something the original author hasn’t covered but will always link back where it is necessary.

In other words, I never read articles on the subject I’m writing about until I’ve actually finished my own article. I want it to be original and don’t want to be swayed by the ideas of others.

The following tactic is something I actually found on Reddit just as this post was about to go live, and thought was an excellent tip to add.

Reddit has a little-known feature that allows you to see where a domain was shared anywhere on their website. So you could not only check your own website, but the performance of your competitors as well.

For instance, if I use the following query – – I can see these were the most recently shared stories from ViperChill on Reddit:


What you can see in this highlighted box is that someone submitted my article to a sub-Reddit I didn’t even know existed and was actually able to send me thousands of visitors to my site in a 24 hour period.

Now, granted, those visitors did not stay on the site very long (with seems to be a common theme with ‘Redditors’) but I can take some things away from this:

  • I found a Redditor who reads ViperChill and has a bit of ‘authority’ there
  • I learned about a new sub-Reddit I could possibly promote to in the future
  • I received a lesson in writing Reddit titles for different audiences

If your site is new or you have yet to really write any content worth sharing then looking up your own domain will likely pull back few results, if any at all.

However, there’s no reason you can’t run your ‘competitors’ through the same query and get insights on sub-Reddit’s to use, Redditor’s who read content in your niche and content ideas you could cover yourself.

I decided to look up my friend Pat Flynn’s blog, Smart Passive Income, to see the results for his website.

I actually didn’t get the best of results back, so I modified the search URL a little, to this:

This will show me, from highest to lowest, the posts from Pat’s site which received the most upvotes in the history of Reddit. You simply need to click on ‘Top’ then ‘All Time’ if you want to do it manually, or you can just use the query above and swap out the domain name.

With that query I get the following result:


Now I’ve learned that I could potentially angle some of my future content towards the /r/productivity crowd and even though I’m in the internet marketing / make money industry, they could still respond favorably to the content.

Reddit links themselves aren’t really worth anything but if your post does go viral, you have an opportunity to reach the type of people who could link to you.

Rank for Terms the Linkerati Are Searching For

The term Linkerati, coined by’s Rand Fishkin, refers to people who have the ability to link. Meaning they have some place on the web that they could actually link from, whether it’s a forum, blog, online store or similar.

If you don’t get the attention of people who can actually send links your way, then you aren’t going to pick up any links.

This gem comes from Ken Lyons, who shared the tip back in 2013 on a creative link building post by PointBlankSEO. Before I add my own ideas to the original concept, here’s what Ken had to say a few years ago,

We optimize and link to the “become an author” pages on each site we run this on so the doc will rank for search operators in specific keyword verticals. This gets us a steady flow of guest posting inquiries. We offer to “swap content” with bloggers that want to guest post on our sites. If you’re unwilling to or can’t swap, we won’t publish your article.

With the number of sites we run, we swap an average of about 100 articles per month. What I love about this tactic is the efficiency: link opportunities come to us versus us having to prospect for them. This really puts us in the driver’s seat and means:

– We can insist on only swapping with sites that meet or exceed specific quality thresholds.

– We have total control over link placement within the article and aren’t restricted to a single author bio link.

– We’ve been able to build ongoing relationships with others who run portfolios of sites and swap with them on a pretty regular basis.

How smart is that?

Rank for terms that link builders are using to find link opportunities in Google, then offer to work with them to help both of your sites. Similar to what I recommended with PIN’s, but actually having people come to you to pitch content.

So you could set-up a dummy website like “Real estate backlinks” or “real estate guest posting” and try to rank for relevant terms to each of those. Then make it very open on your website that you offer link opportunities, and people should get in touch with you if they want them.

Only once they get in touch do you start negotiations that are beneficial for both of you, rather than just plainly accepting their guest post on one of your websites.

As Ken says, it’s likely that not everyone will be a perfect fit, but just like my success with outreach for paid links (see below), you’ll find the right person to work with now and then who makes it all worth it.

Why Maps are the new Infographics When it Comes to Link Building

When infographics became all the rage a few years ago it seems like every other article I was reading had them embedded. People saw them as a way to “ethically” build quality links to their website, and get a few extra pins on Pinterest.

Infographic creation companies sprouted up across the web and some startups dedicated to their creation received millions of dollars in funding.

While infographics are no doubt useful and visually appealing, I would argue their massive success is due to the SEO’s of the world creating them for links.

This could well mean that maps, or more specifically interactive maps are going to be the new infographic when it comes to link building.

After all, the biggest publications in the world are sharing them on a constant basis.


I took this screenshot on the same day this article is going live.

David McSweeney gets the credit for noticing this trend and doing a huge write-up on the topic a few months ago. Since his article I’ve certainly seemed to be noticing this more, and no doubt your average webmaster will be picking up on the idea soon enough.

It’s Working for Insurance Companies

I don’t really want to link to this one as it’s clearly just some SEO agency having created this for their client, but if anything it shows that even obvious implementations of this strategy can attract links.

GoCompare, a UK-founded financial comparison site created an interactive map on the topic of ‘What Powers the World’ which you can find here.

While it no doubt took technical skill to put together, it’s incredibly simple and doesn’t really reveal much at all.


The map, while seemingly irrelevant for what GoCompare was founded to produce, has been able to pick up links from over 100 different domains.


The obvious ‘problem’ of course is that for most people, these maps aren’t going to be easy to create out of the box. Keep in mind for however that for many people the same was true for creating infographics and still is today. I couldn’t design a beautiful infographic without help from others even though I’ve used Photoshop for years.

I think we can expect to see more ‘map creation services’ popping up as people look to capitalise on this opportunity while it’s seen as a more ethical (and perhaps easier) way to build links.

Do note that maps don’t have to be interactive to be shared. This following one was featured on Business Insider recently and is nothing more than a static image.


As long as the angle you’re taking for promotion is interesting then maps offer a nice visual which could attract views and social shares for whoever publishes (or republishes) the information.

If you’re interested in this tactic the first thing I would do is spend a few hours going through other examples of maps and simply noting which ones received a lot of social shares. Then try to find ways to make popular angle’s relevant to your own industry.

The Report That Earned Me Hundreds of Links (And Still Works in 2016)

At 18 years old, not long after I have just moved to South Africa, I started a personal development blog called PluginID (no link as it’s no longer online).

I was trying to grow my reach with the site as much as possible and basically wanted to track my own progress compared to other bloggers in the space. I decided to create something which showed me exactly that.

If I recall correctly the following script cost me around $150 to put together, but thanks to the links and attention it received, it was more than worth it.


There were 71 sites on the list from the last count I can find so while the sites at the top weren’t interested in promoting it, those who were lower down the list definitely came back now and then to check how they’re doing.

It’s funny to see the metrics I used to track back then and the ones we track today. It’s almost a history of the internet.

Google Pagerank is dead.

Alexa barely gets talked about anymore.

Technorati is dead, too.

These days the reports that I put together look something a little more like this:


Note that this is not my own website but is a design I helped to advise on. I talk more about it near the end of this video.

As a bit of an internet time-capsule, I wonder if we’ll still be counting links, likes and Twitter followers five years from now.

I absolutely love the twist that Nathan Gotch has put on this idea (and not just because he has been far too kind in ranking me). His stats are not based on any particular scores like share metrics but his personal opinions of each article.

Showing he reads and rates so much content in the SEO world instantly makes him appear to be an expert on the topic.

And of course, everyone who is mentioned there wants to share it as well. While Nathan doesn’t seem to have picked up links, keep in mind that they’re generally much harder to get in the IM space because everyone is more likely to Tweet something than link to it. And people are definitely tweeting.

I’ve seen dozens of tweets (and made some myself) but I’m unsure how to find them all directly due to Twitter shortening the URL’s.

The great thing about this idea is:

  • Every month, some of the 10 people who are featured will share the page
  • It’s fairly easy for Nathan to put together since he reads the blogs anyway
  • It’s useful for his audience (I’ve found a few cool new blogs via his list)

As long as he can share 10 links for his audience each month it’s really a win-win for everyone.

How could you do that in your industry?

Could you curate a list of the top 10 articles about cooking, health and fitness, vegan recipes or anything else?

Notify those who get featured and start becoming the standard ‘go-to’ resource in your niche for the top content found on that topic. If you’re passionate about the industry you’re in the articles should be easy to find.

And don’t worry about “giving away” authority. I linked to 71+ blogs back in the PluginID days but people kept coming back to my site because I had the list and must have known a lot about the topic if I knew all of these sites.

Reverse-Analyse the Link Building Efforts of Wikihow Link Builders

Wikihow is a website which receives an estimated 86% of it’s traffic from search engines, according to SimilarWeb.

While their external links are no-followed, once again the webmasters who are taking advantage of their resource have built a lot of other links you can duplicate as well.

Whenever Wikihow pages link to external sources they use the heading text “Sources and Citations”. Therefore with a custom Google query you can pull back relevant pages from their site.


If you edit the query to include a word relevant to industries you operate in, you can find active webmasters building links in your space.

Similar to previous reverse-analysis ideas I’ve shared, you would then go and analyse other backlinks these sites have picked up and find some great link opportunities.

Literally Just Ask Websites If They Sell Links

I’ve put this towards the bottom of the article as it’s probably the least advanced tactic here due to how simple it really is.

That being said, it’s rare that you’ll find bloggers talking about buying links these days, especially when it’s frowned upon.

Then again, there have been some big brands who have experimented with it for SEO reasons, even if they don’t endorse the tactic directly.

I’ve bought so many links over the last year that I almost wish I could offer link buying as a service (it wouldn’t be fair to the sites I’m buying them from if I was “caught”).

As I said, this is a very simple process. I simply give a list of 1,000 or so domains (gathered from lists of top blogs in various industries) to an assistant who then log’s into a email platform I set-up and then simply asks them if they have links for sale.

While the success rate is fairly low – many webmasters are scared of selling links – you do find people who have huge networks of links for sale, with fair pricing.

[EDIT: The people who sent me this example email asked for the graphic to be removed from the post. I do want to make clear that there was zero identifying information on the sites selling links, nor who sent the email. They simply recognised their own email they sent to my assistant. However, out of respect I removed the image.]

Most people you come across have websites they’re passionate about but they just don’t receive that much traffic and therefore aren’t making money. If they can get an extra $50-$100 per month for essentially doing nothing then many of them will jump on that.

Just make sure when you’re sending emails you’re not using a domain or email address that you care about.

For less than $3 per month you can use a private email option with Namecheap (found here) and then you don’t have to worry about setting up new hosting and so on.

How to Consistently Pick Up Targeted Backlinks from the Top Sites in Your Niche

While Dale Carnegie left many nuggets of wisdom during his time with us, the following quote is undoubtedly the truest.

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie

People can be talking metres from you without you hearing a single word they say, until your name pop’s up, and suddenly your brain is able to tune in on that discussion.

I would argue that the second sweetest sound to a webmaster or product owner is a favourable review of something they’ve created

Trust me, the best way to get anyone in the world talking about you is to have success with something they sell.

I have an entire page dedicated to people who have success with my Marketing program and if anyone else sends me a video testimonial, you can be sure I’ll be quick to put it up there as well.

One obvious place to start is somewhere like Clickbank and go through their marketplace to find products relevant to your niche. This is a bit of a tedious approach though because most of the reviews and testimonials that are found on sales pages, if they exist at all, rarely contain any links to the authors website.

Instead, I would head on over to iTunes and find the top podcasts in your niche, and then see if those podcast hosts have any products or services you would personally be interested in.

For instance, let’s say you’re a golf coach, run a golf course or sell golf equipment online. If you head on over to iTunes the first or second result you’ll find under a podcast search for ‘golf’ will be the Golf Smarter show, which has over 500 episodes.


While there are no site names in the description, if I Google the name of the podcast I quickly find Fred’s website. I also find that he has a product for sale, for a very reasonable price.


When you find something like this there are two approaches you can take:

  • Reach out and ask Fred if he would be interested in featuring your review of his show on the website
  • Reach out and ask Fred for a preview and in return you will review the show for him

The review would then link back to your website and Fred would have a chance at getting more sales by actually having reviews on his site (he doesn’t have any yet, which is surprising).

Please note that this is just an example: Please don’t flood poor Fred with dozens of review requests.

Another example is the podcast IMTalk, designated for those in the middle of training for an Ironman. It’s surprisingly popular:


If we head on over to their website we can see not one but three opportunities to get a link from them.


You could:

  • Purchase and review their products (ask if they’re interested in featuring testimonials upfront)
  • Sponsor their show
  • Submit content for their audience

Using Copyblogger as an example once again, you can see that the reviewers of their ‘Authority’ program get a nice backlink from a great domain.


While these links take a bit of effort, it’s probably one of the best links you could get if you also run a fitness website or more specifically one catered to those training for an Ironman competition.

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How To Seriously Rock Your Revenue With Seasonal SEO

How To Seriously Rock Your Revenue With Seasonal SEO

Does your SEO strategy account for seasonality? If not, then your business could be at a disadvantage. No matter your industry, seasonality impacts SEO projections, allocation of marketing costs, and other business factors.

What Is A Seasonal SEO Strategy?

Seasonal SEO takes all the basic considerations of a traditional SEO strategy but then looks at ways to drive conversions based on themes and a finite time period.

There are basically two types of seasonal SEO strategies:

  • Time-based: Summer, winter, monthly, etc.
  • Event-based: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Donut Day, etc.

Factoring seasonal influence into your overarching SEO strategy can help your business align your content and distribution strategy to meet the needs of your customers. In turn, this helps drive more qualified leads and increase conversions based on the intent of your users.

For example, let’s imagine we own a business that provides air conditioning repair services in Florida. Because not as many people need their air conditioner repaired during the winter months, it’s safe to assume that seasonal influences drive the need for our services in the summer months.

Taking a quick look at Google Trends shows that March to September has the highest search volume.

Seasonal SEO is simply leveraging these points of highest interest to help drive qualified traffic and more sales.

Why Seasonal SEO Matters

SEO is awesome for driving long-term success. However, if your business wants to capitalize on seasonal SEO, then you’ll need to build a strategy to generate results in a short timeframe.

Customizing content production and optimization based on seasonal weather and relevant holidays is a great way to boost conversions and open new revenue streams. Though you won’t be able to use seasonally-based content year-round, optimizing your content and overall SEO strategy to match the needs of your customers for specific seasons can pay off for your bottom line.

Seasonal content provides several benefits for your business, including:

  • Meeting specific needs of your customers
  • Higher conversions since user intent are specific and immediate
  • Can be used each year and offers data to drive upsells and cross-selling

Timing & Launching Your Seasonal SEO Strategy

Because content can take a lot of time to plan, create, optimize, and publish, your entire marketing team should discuss seasonal SEO strategies for the upcoming quarter. While this time period varies by industry and other factors, you should usually prepare three to four months ahead of time to ensure your message is planned out.

Your team needs to prepare and follow a plan if you want to capitalize on seasonal content. There are lots of moving parts.

Here are a few of the necessary steps to prepare for a seasonal SEO strategy:

  • Think about the dates, events, etc. that you want to build your campaign around.
  • What promotions will you offer?
  • What message will you use for the offer and how does it relate to the season?
  • Perform keyword research around the chosen promotions.
  • Plan, create, optimize, and publish content for select marketing platforms and channels.
  • Create supporting content like landing pages that are optimized for your seasonal keywords.

How to Prepare Your Site for Every Season

1. Review Previous Years’ Data

One of the first places you should go to find opportunities for your seasonal SEO strategy is to look at year-over-year data from Google Analytics or other data sources. This information can show when you can expect a shift in the market.

Not only does this data give you a heads-up approach to building a successful seasonal SEO strategy, it also provides you with a starting point to improve your campaign performance heading forward. You can use existing performance as a baseline to improve on your previous year’s strategy so you can see an incremental improvement for a set time frame each year.

Once you know when your peak seasons are, you can build a strategy based on proper timing and content production. Look at similar analytics platforms for each channel you plan to integrate into your overall marketing effort.

use google analytics to review seasonal seo strategy plan

2. Timing Is Everything

Your team will need enough time to develop your seasonal SEO strategy. Looking back at our example of an air conditioning repair company, we can see interest in these services spike between March to September.

Sharpen your SEO/SEM arsenal at SEJ Summit on May 11. Newsletter subscribers save 15%. Limited seats remaining.

planing for seasonal seo strategy

To pull this off properly, our air conditioning repair company will need to segment out the months leading up to, during, and following the peak season months. The main segments of these time periods include:

  • Ramp-up Period: This period will include a few months leading up to the high season, during which time we’ll want to increase brand awareness. Our marketing message could be centered around people checking their A/C unit for repairs and other preventative benefits for homeowners.
  • Engage Period: The months of March through September will be our busy season. We’ll want to focus our messaging around fixing your A/C today. We could also present information telling homeowner that their A/Cs might not be working perfectly, could be costing them money, or might be impacting their family in other ways.
  • Slow Down Period: Following the high season months, we’ll want to begin transitioning our SEO strategy away from the high-octane approach used during the peak season months. This period should begin transitioning the message towards other products or services. We could also reallocate time and resources to heating repair in another state/region if appropriate to our business goals.

From this example, we can see that planning and coordination need to take place well in advance of any content launch. At the same time, our message and seasonal promotions change based on the needs of our customers and our business goals.

3. Create a Content Calendar

Now that we have identified a general sense of peak interest in our air conditioning repair services, we should work on creating a content calendar for those periods. Basically, a content calendar is where you plan out your content for email marketing, social media, blog posts, and website content.

While it sounds basic, a content calendar is a framework you can use to tell the ongoing story of your business. Customer journey mapping is part of creating a detailed content calendar, and as you build out the content calendar, always remember who your customer is and how they will consume your content.

This calendar will also help line up all of your content and channels together so you have a clear tone, voice, and direction.

  • Create a yearly calendar with all relevant holidays, events, special occasions.
  • Create a plan around each event.
  • Create a strategy around each channel: organic, paid, social, email.
  • Prepare all content in advance.

4. Keyword Research

To ensure you attract the most qualified traffic, you should diligently research the right keywords based on what your audience is looking for.

Long-tail keywords work best for seasonal SEO strategies. Although long-tail keywords have lower search volume, they are more contextually relevant for the needs of your customers.

Here is an example outlining a sample keyword list based on the time period.

seasonal seo strategy keyword research tips

If you’re running a seasonal SEO strategy on a budget then you should focus your time and resources on your local/regional customers. You will be able to see better results and decrease your expenses if you focus your SEO strategy on your local/regional customers.

5. Optimize On-Page Experience for Conversions

Now that our air conditioning repair company has a good idea about the timing, content, and keywords, you will need to optimize your website for conversions. We will want to create unique landing pages for each seasonal campaign that our business can reuse each year.

If we want to focus on the ramp-up period for air conditioning repair, we will want to create special messaging to display between January to March. This landing page should have a message about “get your A/C checked before it’s too hot” or we could even run a special for pre-season check-ups.

  • Navigation menu: Updating your main navigation menu to promote the key products and services your customers are looking for can improve UX and help drive your customers toward the solutions they’re looking for.
  • Landing pages: As you build out your content calendar for different channels, consider creating and optimizing specific landing pages for each offer. This will improve your conversion rate and keep your message together across your entire marketing strategy.
  • Customized CTAs: Avoid generic CTAs for special landing pages and other content for your seasonal SEO strategy. Instead of a boring “Call Now” CTAs, our air conditioning repair business could use more creative CTAs like “Don’t Sweat It. Call Today!” or “Keep Your Family Comfortable Now!”

Focusing on various aspects of your customer’s experience will help you align your website content with other marketing initiatives. This will help you increase conversions and help your business reach your goals.

Seasonal SEO: The Bottom Line

Every business is influenced by seasonal fluctuations, but you can drive your bottom line and grow your business with some simple planning. By identifying when your seasonal fluctuations occur, you can plan, create, and optimize content specifically for your customers.

Great content based on the seasonal needs of your customers will help you influence search traffic and better position your business to maximize ROI with a smart seasonal SEO strategy.

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New Whitehat Link Building Tactic: The Grapevine Protocol

New Whitehat Link Building Tactic: The Grapevine Protocol

I’ve been keeping this tactic a secret for a while now.

And honestly, I couldn’t decide if I should write about it or not.

I could be wrong, but as far as I know, I’m the only one doing it (or at least writing about it).

And here’s what happens when we write about a new link building tactic on a blog: a small percentage of the people reading it–the black hats looking for shortcuts–immediately start cooking up schemes to abuse the living sh*t out of it.

One of the only reasons I’m doing it is because I don’t think it’s remotely scalable. I also don’t really think there’s a black-hat way to do it (although, if history tells me anything, I’ll be eating my words later).

But it is dead simple.

It’s also probably the most white-hat method I can think of, and it can get you some very powerful links.

I used it to get links on two DA51 and DA54 sites (I’ll show you these links below) that were also major national organizations in my market. In other words, they were hyper-relevant and very authoritative. If you think relevance is as important as metrics (like I do), they were among the best link I’ve ever gotten.

I call it The Grapevine Protocol.

The Idea

Bigger companies and organizations like to keep track of (and sometimes brag about) their publicity. It’s good for branding, and it provides social proof on the corporate level.

They do it with what I call media pages.

Like this one. In essence, every time a media outlet (or blog) mentions them, they put them on a list to brag about it.

These are pages with one purpose: to compile every time they were mentioned in the media. We want to get on those pages by simply mentioning these companies in our blog posts.

Did I tell you it was dead simple?

Most of the time, these will be a list of links very similar to a resource page.

Here are a few more examples from various niches:

In other words, these kinds of pages appear everywhere and in virtually every industry.

Also, take a second to check some of the metrics on that pages above; you can see that some of them are pretty ridiculous.

This is anecdotal, but I’ve found that these pages almost always show up on “real” company websites, and those sites, on average, tend to be much more authoritative than sites build solely for the web.

Of course, there’s a bit more to the process than that. But the basic idea is super, super simple.

But it works wonderfully. Check out some of the links I got on HerePup using this technique.

Here’s a link I got from PAWS (which is actually where I got my dog):

That’s an extremely reputable organization and a DA54 domain.

Here’s one I got from another shelter: 4PawsforAbility:

This is another nationally recognized organization in the dog space (i.e. hyper-relevant) and that also has a great link profile.

Of all the links I built for HerePup, I’d say these are the #2 and #3 links. More importantly, though, because of the nature of this kind of outreach (I’ll elaborate here in a second), I built some great relationships with these folks and even gave some organizations I believed in some free publicity, which was a nice bonus.


There’s really just one prerequisite here: a well-designed site with lots of non-affiliate content.

We’ll be communicating with big organizations with dedicated media personnel. They want to share good press.

They don’t want to share the time mentioned them. In fact, they’d probably be embarrassed by it. If you’re not sure if your site is up to par, listen to this podcast.

In short, your site has to:

  • Look good
  • Be branded
  • Have good, highly visible, non-affiliate content

How to Execute the Grapevine Protocol

There are actually a few different ways I like to approach media pages to get links. We’ll go through each of them in detail below.

First, of course, we’ve got to do a bit of prep, so we actually have people to email…

Prep: Build a list of media pages in your niche.

We’re looking for pages that meet the following requirements:

  • They’re lists that actually compile media mentions
  • They link to external sites
  • Their links are dofollow
  • They’ve been updated recently (at least in the last year)

To find those, I like to use good old fashioned Google queries. Because no one’s doing this method of link building (that I know of), I had to experiment with a lot of queries to find ones that work consistently. These seem to be most effective.

  • [keyword] inurl:”in the news”
  • [keyword] intitle:”in the news”
  • [keyword] inurl:”in the media”
  • [keyword] intitle:”in the media”
  • [keyword] inurl:”media mentions”
  • [keyword] intitle:”media mentions”
  • [keyword] inurl:”press mentions”
  • [keyword] intitle:”press mentions”
  • [keyword] inurl:”in the press”
  • [keyword] intitle:”in the press”

In the [keyword] portion of these queries, try lots of different keywords in your market. Go broad, and then go specific. See what comes up. I usually have better luck with broad keywords, but I’ve found some gems with specific ones as well.

Let’s look for some for a hypothetical climbing site.

First, I’d load up Google and type in an advanced query.

It’s easier to look for these pages if we have more than 10 results on a page, so I also like to expand the results to 100 by typing “&num=100” at the end of the URL.

You’ll then have 100 pages to go through for each query.

Some are going to be misses (see notes on false positives below), but lots are going to be exactly what we’re looking for.

The good ones will look like this:

Here are a few more I found in the climbing niche:

Of course, there were many more. These were just a couple I found in the first 20 results or so.

Then, plop them in a spreadsheet.

Here’s the important bit though (you’ll see why in a second when we start deciding how to approach these folks). As I’m recording them, I’ll also note the category of the organization.

You don’t need to be specific; just record broad types. For climbing, there seems to be just a couple categories:

  • Organizations/associations
  • Clubs/gyms
  • Adventure

As always, my spreadsheets aren’t fancy. It looks like this:

I usually don’t bother recording metrics for these, since the insane relevance is more than enough to make securing these links worth the effort.

But I know you guys love metrics, so you can certainly check the DA/DR of each of these and plop it in the spreadsheet as well. It could certainly help you prioritize your outreach efforts.

Note on False Positives

Some of these pages will trick you. Almost all the time, this will be because they’re only linking to their own articles and press releases.

A slight variation of this to be on the lookout for is heavily orphaned pages. For example, this page from PlanetFitness looks awesome right?


If you click through the links, you do end up with external links, but they’re on heavily orphaned pages that almost certainly get no real link juice from the rest of the site.

Would I still take a link from a site like PlanetFitness? Of course. But if it was something less than a major national brand, I’d probably pass it up, since, on a per-link basis, these links take more effort than average.

The point is to just be on the lookout for false positives as you do your prospecting, since these pages are far from uniform.

Now that you’ve got a list of good media pages in your niche, how do you actually go about reaching out to them?

I like to do it three ways…

Method #1: Mention as you blog.

This is the easiest by far, and it’s an amazing solution to take a very “blogger” approach to authority sites: that is to say they enjoy writing one article at a time and don’t spend much time on promotion.

In this case, for every article you write, simply mention one of the companies whose media page you found in your prospecting.

Of course, it has to make sense. Don’t crowbar it in.

What this usually means is you’ll have to look for stuff on their site relevant to whatever article you’re writing.

It also means it doesn’t really work with affiliate content.

Here are the kinds of mentions that are most likely to get listed on media pages:

  • Mentioning stuff they’ve done recently
  • Mentioning new products or services
  • Mentioning a specific person (the higher up the better)
  • Mentioning how they’re leading the industry somehow
  • Flattery (just don’t bulls*t)

Aside from that there’s no real formula for how you mention them. You can link to them, but you usually don’t have to.

Then, you just reach out. The good thing about this tactic is that you can be very soft with your pitches, and the conversions will still be high. Mine usually look like this:

You might also direct them to the specific paragraph in which they are mentioned, so it’s easier for them to find.

By the way, nerds, there’s no Glenn at USA Climbing, so don’t go spamming them asking for Glenn 😛

As always, you’ll have much better conversion rates if you write your own scripts (scripts that show up on blogs like this one get abused to hell).

Method #2: Conduct interviews.

This is the tactic I save for the really good sites. That, or the ones that I really think are cool and I think an interview would be fun.

The idea here is to find someone important at the company and ask for an interview. It can be skype. It can be email. It doesn’t matter.

Then you simply interview them and post the interview on your website. Here’s one I did on HerePup:

This takes a bit more work, but it’s also very enticing for your target site. Usually, whicher important person you interviewed will be requesting the link themselves.

Aside from the link, though, this is a really good way to make friends in your niche. Karen, for example, was an incredible person, and I had a ton of fun interviewing her.

Usually, you can just ask the person you’re interviewing if the interview will be posted on their news page, letting them know it’d be super exciting for you.

Method #3: Do a big roundup post.

This is where you can finally harness a bit of efficiency.

What we’re looking to do here is create a roundup post that compiles a bunch of cool companies in your market in addition to the companies with media pages.

You don’t only want to write about the companies with media pages, since that’s a bit weird. Instead, you want to put the ones that make sense into a list with other cool companies doing cool stuff.

This is where categorizing the media pages comes in handy.

Just sort by type…

…and write a nice, juicy roundup post about cool companies of that type.

For our hypothetical climbing site, my roundup might be titled: 35 Climbing Adventure Trips You Didn’t Know Existed.

Or whatever. Just make it fun and cohesive.

Here’s the one I did on HerePup.

After it’s published, just send everyone an email letting them know you gave them a shoutout.

Why The Grapevine Protocol is Good

The Grapevine Protocol is not my bread and butter.

It’s simply too difficult to scale. However… it is one of the ways I like to accumulate easy links over time as well as one of the ways I like to go after the truly amazing links. Here are a few other reasons it’s so good.

It’s one of the most white-hat tactics I can think of.

Outside of simply publishing content and hoping for links to occur naturally, The Grapevine Protocol is probably the single “whitest” hat tactic I’ve used (perhaps neck-and-neck with broken link building).

Because think about it…

All you’re doing is mentioning major companies and organizations in your space as you blog and then letting them know.

I usually don’t even ask for a link. They’re already on the lookout for this kind of thing.

There’s no weird “ask.” It’s not sketchy. It’s not spammy. You’ve already done them a favor, and you’re simply letting them know.

The conversion rate is really high.

These kinds of media pages exist for one reason only: to link to new media mentions. Literally the entire purpose of the page is to be on the lookout for new sh*t to link to.

Most of the time, you’ll find that bigger companies will often have a dedicated media person (or team) whose job it is to keep this page updated. Think about that: there’s someone sitting at a desk, and their job is to link to people.

I wish I could find the data, but on the last campaign I ran, I believe I sent 25 emails and got 4 links. That’s a 16% conversion rate.

Aside from being a really high conversion, all the links were extremely high quality, making that 16% exponentially more powerful.

It’s great for people who hate link building.

This tactic is not scalable. You’re not going to be emailing thousands of people and building hundreds of links.

But it’s fantastic for building links naturally as you blog. Here’s what I mean.

If you compile a list of companies with media pages in your niche, all you have to do is mention one or two in each blog post and let them know about it.

The links can be really good.

I mentioned this above, but it’s worth mentioning again.

The types of sites who keep these kinds of pages up to date are typically sites that get a lot of pres. And sites that get a lot of press are usually very relevant and have very good link profiles.

Limitations of the Grapevine Protocol

Despite all the awesome pros of the Grapevine Protocol, there are, of course, a few drawbacks.

It’s not remotely scalable.

The first thing you’ll notice here is that you just won’t be able to find that many media pages out there in most niches. I mean, there are quite a few, but in my experience, you’d be pushing it if you found over, say, 300.

If you were really exhausting all keyword possibilities for all sub-niches and tangential niches, I imagine you could find 500 or 600 pages.

In other words, the prospecting is limited, so the total links will be limited, and it’s not going to replace guest posting or skyscraper as your bread and butter anytime soon.

It requires more effort per link.

Pretty much every link you get this way will require both research and writing.

You’ll need to do research so you can actually talk about these companies when you’re mentioning them in your articles. And you’ll need to do some writing as well; at the very least, you’ll have to write the blurbs in each article, and if you do a bigger piece, like an interview or a roundup, you’ll have to devote time to a full-blown custom piece of content.

Now, that shouldn’t be a huge deal to most of us. We’re used to creating linkable assets. We do it for skyscraper, for example. The main difference here is that you have to do at least a little bit of writing for every single link.

Moreover, it’s usually not the kind of writing I outsource. Why? Mostly because it has to be written in the context of my entire outreach system. I need to know the target, who I’m trying to talk to, and what I need to say about them. It’s just easier to do yourself.

You can end up with a lot of reciprocal links.

You don’t have to link to people.

But it might look like a more legitimate mention if you do. And if you link to them, and then they link to you, those links count as reciprocal links, and Google doesn’t like those.

More accurately, Google doesn’t like too many of those.

For the most part, I don’t worry about it too much, and I link to people where it makes sense. I’d say about half of these end up as reciprocal links, and if it’s a small part of your total link profile, it’s not a huge deal, and the links will absolutely still move the needle.

How to Use It

I recommend using the Grapevine Protocol to supplement your other link building efforts. It’s a way to get extremely high quality links on extremely relevant sites.

Often times, these sites won’t be accepting guest posts. They won’t have blogs. They won’t have resources pages. And because of all that, they won’t be linking out to hardly anyone.

So when they link out to you, it really says something.

I’d recommend the following:

  • Pull a list of media mentions as you plan a new site and plug them into non-affiliate content as you go; or
  • Do a couple big roundups; or
  • Interview a few people at the really big companies.

It’s not going to get you hundreds of links.

But it should get you some of your best ones.

Over to you…

What do you think? How would you use this? What other ideas do you have? Drop me a note in the comments!

This article was originally published on

27 SEO Essentials for Every Long-Form Blog Post

27 SEO Essentials for Every Long-Form Blog Post

I love long-form content.

Want proof? Take a look at this.

That article is just a sample of an article I recently wrote. It’s over 4k words.

Sometimes, I write articles that are 10k words. I’ve even written super long guides that are over 20k words!


As I’ve learned from years of blogging, long-form content is one of the best methods of making your site stand out from everyone else’s.

Of course, your content can’t just be long. It also has to be deep.

If you can nail it, you’ll drive a ton of traffic and gain thousands of followers.

A lot of people think the formula is simple.

Step 1:  Write a really long article.

Step 2:  Get thousands of followers.

But here’s the thing. A long-form blog post isn’t enough on its own.

Yes, the formula is simple, but it doesn’t work automatically just because you have a long article.

I’ve seen lots of people write super long, in-depth articles, but they’re not getting the kind of traffic they want.

That’s because they’re not thinking about some of the fundamental elements of SEO — things that your long-form blog post needs.

If you have detailed long-form content, that’s awesome. But you need to doctor it up with SEO in mind if you want the content to be effective.

Trust me, I know this can be difficult. You’re already putting a lot of effort into the content, and it’s hard to remember all of the SEO involved.

So I compiled this list to help you out. These are 27 SEO must-haves for every long-form article.

They’ll help your content rank better, get more visibility, and drive traffic to your site.

Best of all, these steps aren’t hard to use at all. Even if you don’t know anything about SEO, you can use every single one of these tips.

Open your latest blog post, grab a coffee, and get ready to transform your content.

Learn how I used SEO to generate 100,000 visitors a month.

1. Keyword research

Take the time to find the best focus keyword for your post. Make sure it’s specific to your topic, and consider going for a lower competition keyword.

Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush are both great for this. Here’s how you can use Keyword Planner to its fullest.

2. Use long-tail keywords

Everyone knows that an article should include a focus keyword.

But not enough sites are using long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are––you guessed it––long keywords that get super specific. They’re often easier to rank for, and they bring you targeted traffic.

Here’s an example from HubSpot:

Having trouble finding the right long-tail keywords? Try using Google’s “searches related to” section.

3. Create the perfect h1 tag

In most cases, your title (or h1) tag is going to be the first thing someone sees when they start reading your blog post.

For blog posts, the h1 is the title of your blog post.

The right h1 tag can make one heck of a difference.

Don’t believe me? When I changed the h1 of one of my articles, I got 85% more organic traffic in just 3 days.

Now I know what you’re thinking. If the h1 tag is just the title of the post, then isn’t writing the actual title more important?

That’s a pretty common thought. But focusing on the h1 tag is actually more important.

That’s because your h1 tag will help search engines identify and index your content better, which will help human users find your content easily.

Your h1 tag should have the following:

  • Include a long-tail keyword
  • Be short (20-70 characters)
  • Give the user a clear idea of what the article is about

Here’s an example:

If you want to make the best h1 for your content, here’s an article on how to do that.

4. Use helpful subheadings

Before I go any further, I need to say something.

Do not go keyword crazy with your subheadings!

If search engines see your focus keyword plastered in every spot available, they’ll classify it as keyword stuffing.

Instead, your subheadings should help readers navigate the content.

Use subheadings to break up your article into easy-to-understand chunks.

Look at this article from Convince and Convert:

That’s the h1. Now let’s look at the subheadings (usually h2 or h3):

See how these break up the article? You can get a good idea of the entire article just by reading the subheadings. (But you don’t get the whole picture.)

Brian Dean recommends including benefits in your subheadings. Here’s an example from Copyblogger:

To sum it up, make subheadings that help users move through the content, and make sure some subheadings include benefits.

5. Implement schema markup

Schema markup is a type of code that helps search engines analyze your content.

Specifically, it breaks down each part of your content and tells search engines what those parts mean.

For example, if you use schema markup on your title, search engines will know that’s your title.

There’s even a free tool you can use to easily add markup to your article.

First, go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Since we’re marking up articles, choose the Articles option.

Copy and paste the URL of your blog post. (You can also use HTML instead.)

Click “Start Tagging.”

On the next page, you’ll see two panes like this:

The left pane is your article, and the right pane is the markup tool.

To mark something up, highlight it in the left pane and select the correct type of markup from the tool tip.

Once you’re done marking everything up, click “Create HTML” in the upper-right corner. Copy and paste this HTML and replace your original post source code with this.

NB: By default, this tool gives you microdata. If you want to use JSON-LD (which I recommend), click on the box that says “microdata” at the top of the right pane and choose the JSON-LD option.

6. Share your content with influencers to get backlinks

If you can grab the attention of influencers, you’ll likely get a nice backlink from them, which will, in turn, drive a ton more traffic to your site.This is an awesome strategy that I’ve written about before.

The most important part is getting your pitch right. You can’t be too pushy, but you want to get your foot in the door.

Here’s a template you can use for this:


The goal is to get backlinks, whether that’s a share on social media networks or a link in a blog post.

But don’t come right out and ask for a backlink. If the influencer likes your content, he or she will give you the backlink you want.

7. Optimize your URL

Shorter and cleaner URLs provide a better user experience and help search engines too.

This is the kind of URL I’m talking about:

Compare that to this messier URL:

You also want to make sure your URL contains your keyword (focus or long-tail). Here are some other tips for URL structure.

8. Include outbound links

One of the simplest ways of enhancing your post’s SEO: outbound links.

Brian Dean recommends 2-4 outbound links for every 1,000 words:

If your topic is super in-depth, you can use even more links, but do so wisely. Don’t go crazy and include a link in every paragraph.

9. Include internal links

Internal links are just as important as outbound links. You might be surprised to hear it’s one of the most overlooked parts of on-page SEO.

Again, don’t overdo it. You should link to your own site much less than you link to other sites.

Aim for about 2-4 internal links in every post.

10. Use LSI keywords

For example, if your focus keyword is “car stereo system,” some LSI keywords would be “car stereo speakers” and “best car audio speakers.”Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a fancy term, but it just refers to keywords that are similar to your focus keyword.

Remember in point #1 when I mentioned Google’s “searches related to” section? Those keywords are often both long-tail and LSI.

But there’s an even easier way to find these:

Enter your focus keyword, solve the Captcha, and you’ll see a list of LSI keywords:

11. Get the title tag right

Title tags are incredibly important. Why? They’re often the first thing someone will see if they find you on a search engine.

A title tag is simply the title of each result in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Here’s what I’m talking about:


Even though this picture labels title tags as page titles, title tags will often be different from your actual page or blog post title.

You need to make sure your title tag describes a benefit and contain your focus keyword. Consult my article on this topic for more information.

12. Create an SEO-friendly meta description

Together with the title tag, the meta description helps your page stand out in the SERPs.

An optimized meta description should:

  • Be short, about 135-160 characters
  • Include the focus keyword
  • Be clear and descriptive
  • Stay truthful and convince the reader to check out the page

Here’s a fantastic meta description courtesy of HubSpot:

This tells you what the article is about in plain language. That’s exactly what your meta description should do.

13. Make it mobile friendly

Making a blog post mobile friendly isn’t just about using responsive design. That’s a good start, but it isn’t enough.

You also have to think about how your article itself will display on mobile.

First, make sure your content uses short sentences and paragraphs. (Aim for paragraphs of no more than 3-4 sentences.)

This will give your article the best readability on mobile:

Next, use media and white space to break up the article.

And don’t forget your h2 (or h3) subheadings.

Here’s a full list of what you can to make your content mobile-friendly.

14. Analyze your site speed

Here’s a statistic you need to know:

That means your site speed has to be pretty darn fast. If it’s not, you could lose some serious traffic.

Simplifying your design, reducing server response time, and enabling compression are all good methods of increasing your site speed. Here are 10 methods to get you started.

Once you’ve done the work, test your site speed. Here’s a speed test you can use for your desktop site, and here’s one for mobile.

15. Optimize body text for your keyword

Of course, you can’t forget to include your focus keyword in the body of your article. Don’t use it every chance you get, and be sure to mix in your long-tail and LSI keywords.

I usually use my focus keyword at the beginning and end of posts. I also typically use it in at least one h2 subheading.

16. Use your focus keyword early on

First, Brian Dean says your keyword should appear in the first 100-150 words. In my experience, this is absolutely necessary.

This will help Google crawl your content and understand that your focus keyword is important.

17. Think about keyword frequency

Keyword frequency is the number of times your keyword appears in your content.

There are several different opinions on keyword frequency. Rand Fishkin from Moz says you should use your keyword 2-3 times in a blog post. Other SEOs will think differently.


Here’s what I recommend: For long-form blog posts, use your keyword about 4-6 times. But also use your long-tail keywords and LSI keywords. You can use these every few paragraphs.

But if it seems weird, don’t force it. When in doubt, read it aloud and ask yourself if it seems natural.

18. Consider user intent

There are three types of user intent.User intent is what makes keywords effective. If you know about the different kinds of user intent, you can better optimize your keywords for that intent.

If a user has navigational intent, he or she is trying to get to a certain site or page.

If a user has informational intent, he or she is looking for information.

If a user has transactional intent, he or she wants to buy something.

Here’s some more detailed information on those intent types:

Think about user intent when settling on your keywords (focus, long-tail, and LSI).

For example, if your focus keyword is “handbags” but you’re creating a product page, you could change it to “buy handbags” to bring in users who have transactional intent.

19. Include LSI keywords in your h2 subheadings

This is a simple way to enhance your SEO by making one small change.

Again, if it feels forced, don’t do it. Use your h2 subheadings to break up the content. If you can naturally use an LSI keyword, do it.

20. Make social buttons easy to find

Social shares = free links. Make the most of this opportunity by using extremely visible social sharing buttons.

I use buttons that follow the page as it moves:

21. Increase your chances of getting a featured snippet

The featured snippet is arguably one of the best places to be on page 1 of Google.

Featured snippets are those handy boxes that show you a preview of the content and often answer a question:

Getting a featured snippet of your own can be super helpful for your site. Here’s how you can increase the odds of getting one.

22. Don’t overuse anchor text

If you like using exact match anchor text, be careful. Google now looks out for this and will often penalize sites that overuse it.

23. Syndicate your content

Most people don’t syndicate their content because they’re worried about duplicate content.

Thankfully, you can safely syndicate content without getting penalized. Don’t syndicate every single post you publish, but syndicate posts that you feel would be of interest to certain audiences.

Medium and LinkedIn are two great places to go to for syndication.

24. Use title modifiers

Adding an extra word to your title can drive more traffic and give you an organic long-tail/LSI keyword at the same time.

Words like “best” or “easy” are often searched, so it makes sense to add them to your title.

Here’s a list to get you started:

25. Use different titles for your title tag and h1

Your title tag and h1 don’t have to be identical. Your focus keyword should be in both, but you can use a long-tail keyword or phrase match keyword for one or the other.

This is a great way to naturally rank better for long-tail keywords.

26. Make sure your content is actually long form

When I say long-form content, I’m talking about 2,000+ words. That’s an optimal length.

However, I regularly recommend writing posts with 3,000+ words.

Obviously, length alone doesn’t always guarantee great ranking, which brings me to the final point.

27. Make sure your content goes deep

Your content needs to be comprehensive. It can’t just address a ton of surface issues. Focus on a few important points and go into extreme detail.

A few months back, I worked with my researchers on a massive study of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm.

We performed a deep dive into 9.93 million words of content to figure out exactly what kind of content Google elevated in the search results.

The subjects for our study were four personal finance blogs.

We analyzed each site according to a variety of metrics.

The most important part of the study was how deeply each site treated a specific topic.

This analysis was reflected in the “topical depth coverage” number.

As it turned out, websites that had deep content ranked better, even though they may have had less robust link profiles.

Deep content had higher search results, even if the website lacked high authority or powerful backlinks!

That’s exactly the kind of content you should be writing.

And that’s exactly the kind of results you can expect — top-ranked results!


If you’ve been pushing out long-form content without the kind of results you want, I believe this checklist will help a lot.

Long-form content does work. But it works when coupled with solid SEO, as these 27 points show.

SEO doesn’t have to be a headache. I know there can be a lot to keep track of, and I hope this list helps.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything you need to do to have great SEO. It’s simply a handy checklist to use when you’re writing and editing your blog posts.

Like I say all the time, SEO is a long-term strategy. Don’t expect super quick wins with SEO. (Those happen, but your focus should be on the long term.)

This list will get you started, but I also recommend looking more into optimizing your content for SEO.

After a few posts, you’ll be doing a lot of this stuff without even thinking about it, and you’ll see the results as your page gets better ranking and more traffic.

Which of these techniques are you going to use?

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