20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

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As marketers, we know that there are a million things we could be working on at any given time: e-books, white papers, blog posts, webinars, paid advertising, e-mail marketing.

They’re all important, but part of running a successful business is about putting your focus on the highest-leverage activities. That’s the stuff that brings you the most bang for your buck — the stuff that helps you justify the ROI of your job to your boss.

One of the highest leverage activities you can spend your time on is optimizing your SEO. If you can get even one of your blog posts ranked at the top of Google for a broad keyword, it could drive thousands more visitors to your site every month.

And if you’ve got the rest of your sales funnel in place, then those thousands of visitors could add up to some significant ROI.

In this post, we’ll cover 20 tactics you can use to boost your SEO rankings.

1.   Improve What Already Works

The best, most efficient way to make your content stand out isn’t by reinventing the wheel — it’s by building a better version of what has already been proven to work.

Instead of trying to create an epic 10x piece of content from scratch, look for the blog posts or videos that already perform well within your niche and build on it. Brian Dean from Backlinko calls this the Skyscraper Technique.

For example, let’s say I wanted to write an article for a new marketing blog about Facebook ads.

First, I’d do some research to figure out which blog posts about Facebook ads have a track record of generating a lot of links. There are a few ways to do this.

I could go on Google, type in a broad search term, and see what ranks near the top.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Or I could type a broad search term into a tool like BuzzSumo and immediately get a list of highly shared content related to my topic.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Next, I’d pick one of those successful pieces of content, and build on it.

One simple way to do this is just by making the post longer. For example, one of the top Google search results for “facebook ad strategies” is an article called “5 Ridiculously Powerful Ad Targeting Strategies.” To build on this idea, you might come up with something like “25 Facebook Ad Strategies to Grow Your Business.”

Another way to improve on existing content is by making it more visually appealing.

For example, this post on Pardot.com ranks at the top of Google for the search term “buyer journey,” mainly because of how the post is designed.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

According to Brian Dean, by taking a post that is already proven and building on it, you drastically reduce the likelihood that your content falls flat because you’re writing content that has already worked.

2. Link Out to Influencers

An important factor for getting a post to rank high in the search results is having a lot of other influential people link back to it. One easy way to do this is by mentioning your industry’s influencers in your content.

When other people see their name mentioned somewhere on the Internet, they’re much more inclined to share the piece on their own social media, blogs or newsletters. And because industry influencers usually have large audiences, that means more targeted traffic back to your site.

For example, this entrepreneur curated an e-book full of the best Medium posts of 2015, and then sent it out to all the writers he mentioned within the e-book:

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

A simple e-mail like this sent to the right influencer could be the “tipping point” that makes your content go viral. In fact, according to Blogging Wizard, with the right approach you can get up to an 80% response rate from the top influencers in your industry.

3. Link to Your Lower-Ranked Content within Your Higher-Ranked Content

We all have pages on our blog that perform really well in search, and others that fall on page three, four, or even lower. And the frustrating thing is that some of our low-ranked content may contain amazing material. If only those poor blog posts could get a little push — like a share from an influencer or several more backlinks — they might go viral or rank at the top of SERPs.

One way to give the poor-ranking content a push is by finding the posts on your site that rank higher in Google and adding links within them to the pages that rank lower.

For example, HubSpot ranks pretty high for the search term “content marketing strategy.”

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Within this post, they link to multiple articles on their blog about topics like list purchasing and developing a social media content calendar — neither of which rank as high.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

This is a great way to give some of your lower ranked content the boost they need to get to the top.

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4. Write Emotionally Appealing Content

The best content is the kind that speaks to people’s emotions. Marketers who are able to connect with their audience can build a large audience of loyal readers relatively quickly.

Make sure you understand your market’s deepest hopes, fears and dreams around the subject about which you’re writing. Once you have a good grasp on this, you can weave it into your blog posts to show your audience that you really “get” them.

Steli Efti at Close.io, a SaaS product to help salespeople close more deals, does this really well.

Salespeople have a lot of hopes and fears around their job. For example, they might feel afraid of coming off as too “sleazy” or too fake.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

They might be afraid of hearing a bunch of “no” responses from leads.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Or maybe they feel like they have no idea what they’re doing.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Because their content tells emotionally captivating stories that really “hit the spot” for their audience, Close.io’s blog has quickly become one of the go-to resources for salespeople.

Another great example is the Copy Hackers blog. Their content has a lot of personality infused into each post, which helps set the content apart from all the other marketing posts on the web.

Notice how friendly and fun this content sounds:

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Businesses in virtually every industry can incorporate great storytelling and personality into their content if they understand their customers at a deep level. Even Pfizer was able to boost sales using this approach, according to this article by Cognitive Edge.

There are always a bunch of new SEO tactics popping up all the time, but at the end of the day, the best way to have your content reach more people is simply by writing stuff that they actually want to read! And one great way to do that is by writing posts that are fun and/or informative and appeal to the readers' emotions.

5. Use Keyword Research to Gauge Demand

Writing long-form content consistently takes a lot of effort. So before you start climbing that mountain, it’s important to ensure that you’re writing content for which people are actually searching.

One easy way to do this is by using the Keyword Planner on Google AdWords. It's easy to see how many people are searching for a particular keyword, and you can even uncover related keywords to base your articles around.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Another great tool for gauging the number of search results for a particular topic is Google Trends, where you can uncover search trends over time for keywords to see if they’re worth pursuing.

Or you could use BuzzSumo to see the number of shares that certain types of content get and which keywords are getting a high rate of shares.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Moz has a great guide on how to do keyword research for SEO, including how to judge the value of a keyword and understanding how to use long tail keywords.

By creating remarkable, long-form content around keywords that have a high search volume, you make it easier for your blog posts to rank high for a topic and generate a lot of traffic to your website.

6. Leverage Broken Links

Broken link building is one of the most effective white hat strategies you can use to grow your SEO rankings.

The first step is to figure out which websites in your industry have broken links to your own site as well as your competitors’ sites. There are quite a few search term variations you can type into Google to uncover sites with dead links. According to this guide by Neil Patel and Brian Dean, here are some of them:

  • Keyword + “resources”
  • Keyword + intitle:resources
  • Site:.gov keyword + “links”
  • Site:.edu keyword + “recommended sites”
  • Keyword + “related links”

For example, you can type in “marketing + intitle:resources” to find posts that are filled with a bunch of links.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Next, you'll have to scour the page to find the broken links. An easy way to do this is by downloading a Chrome plugin called Domain Hunter Plus, which scans pages for dead links.

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

Once you activate the plugin for a particular page, you’ll get a list of dead links on that page. You can then export the list of links, send it to the site owner, and ask to replace the dead links with your own resources.

7. Use the Hub and Spoke Strategy

Relying on standalone blog posts to drive your SEO rankings is a losing battle.

A few individual pieces of content might appear high up on the search results, but there are better ways to get more mileage out of your blog posts. One tried-and-true way is the hub and spoke strategy.

Through this approach, you create one giant piece of content to function as the page that people land on directly from Google (your “hub”), and from that page, you link to a bunch of other relevant pages on your website (the “spokes”).

Your hub should be something that’s highly shareable, like a meaty post that people bookmark because of how informative it is and how many useful resources it contains. This way, your hub will rise in SEO rankings, and as a result your “spokes” will rise as well.

Copyblogger created a page called “Email Marketing: How to Push Send and Grow Your Business,” and within it, they’ve included supporting posts like “Why Vanity Metrics Are Worthless (and What Really Matters),” “37 Tips for Writing Emails that Get Opened, Read, and Clicked,” and more.

By creating a hub, or a “table of contents”-style guide around a topic in your niche that people can consistently refer to, you’re creating a larger piece of content that will rise higher and higher in search rankings.

And as a result, the content you link to within your hub will rise higher and higher as well.

8. Create High-Quality Roundup Posts

As I mentioned earlier, mentioning industry influencers in your content is a great way to help your content get more shares.

And roundup posts are an efficient way to do this on a larger scale. In a roundup, you curate posts from experts in your niche and share them with your own readers. This tactic is an easy method to build relationships with the right people in your field, generate a bunch of traffic, and improve your SEO rankings.

According to Crazy Egg, these are a few key characteristics that make a high-quality roundup:

  • Articles with social proof (highly ranked, linked to, and shared)
  • Plural-focus keyword
  • An odd-numbered headline
  • A short, keyword-only URL
  • High-quality images in one format
  • Easy readability

Once you’ve sourced a long list of high-quality links around a topic that your audience wants to know more about, you can ask each influencer to share the post with their own audience.

For example, here’s an e-mail that someone sent to me after including some of my content in a post:

20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings

I ended up sharing it with my list of 20,000+ readers.

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