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How & Why You Must Improve or Remove Your Old Content



Could old content be dragging down the overall “authority” of your website? We think so.

You have an important decision to make: should you improve your old content or remove it?

Making the right decisions during this process can bring great rewards, in terms of traffic, organic search visibility (rankings, featured snippets, etc.), links, conversions, and engagement.

On March 27, I presented an SEJ ThinkTank webinar to share the process we at Search Engine Journal has been using to improve and remove old content for the last 20 months.

Here’s a recap of the presentation.

How & Why You Must Improve or Remove Your Old Content

Google’s mission since its inception is to “[o]rganize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

On Google’s end, nothing has changed.

But what has changed is this little thing called content marketing. Around the time of the original Google Panda update, a lot of businesses and brands finally bought into the idea that content is king.

They started creating all sorts of content – some of it was great, but most of it was average, far below average, or just outright terrible.

Today, lots of content is being published, but most of it isn’t very useful. A lot of it is redundant.

In 2016, the web was made up of about 130 trillion individual pages. But the Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of webpages – only a portion of the total pages available in the web.

The search engine is filtering out a lot of stuff and you don’t want that to be you.

So this year, content marketers and creators have a new mission:

“Give Google only your best content and make it optimized, useful, and relevant.”

It’s 2019. Our mission can’t stay the same. It’s time we all start thinking about content in a new way.

Rethinking Your Content Marketing Approach

Google spokespeople have downplayed the idea that “old content won’t hurt you.” They have also warned that removing content is a dangerous SEO strategy.

But is it really?

Not based on our results.

For the last 20 months, we’ve been hacking and slashing our way through our archives which resulted to increased pageviews and organic traffic of up 60+ percent YoY.

Just check out these numbers:

When I started as Executive Editor in July 2017, we had 910,000 pageviews.

In January of this year, we just had a record month – 1.7 million pageviews. At that time, we had about 18,000 pages.

And we just topped that record again in March – more than 1.9 million pageviews. Today, we still have 18,000 pages indexed – we’re just getting more out of the same amount of content.

So how did we achieve this growth?

Here’s the process we used.

Step 1: Audit Your Content

The process all begins with auditing and evaluating your content.

There are basically three buckets of content:

  • Content that helps you.
  • Content that does absolutely nothing for you.
  • Content that can hurt you.

We need to figure out which bucket all of our content fits in.

Since 2003, Search Engine Journal has been creating tons of content and it came to a point where it got really messy and disorganized. We needed to get out of that chaos.

The first step in the process is to crawl your content.

Some options that you can use to crawl your content include:

  • Screamingfrog
  • DeepCrawl
  • Oncrawl
  • Sitebulb
  • Botify

Here are even more crawlers. Choose whichever crawler works for you.

After you get through the crawling process, you need to know about the following elements:

  • Title: Is it optimized? Does it include a reader benefit?
  • URL: Is it SEO friendly? Do you need to change it?
  • Author: Who wrote it? Is it an expert/authority in the field?
  • Publication date: Is it still fresh or out of date?
  • Number of reads: The more reads, the better. It’s a sign of good content that connected with your audience
  • Word count: It isn’t necessarily a sign of low-quality content but it could potentially indicate quality issues.
  • Number of links: How many inbound and internal links do you have?
  • Trust Flow and Citation Flow: This is Majestic’s metrics for quality score and link equity.

Step 2: Evaluate the Quality of Your Content

Next, you’ll need to analyze the quality of the content you have on the website.

I define quality content as content that is:

  • Accurate
  • Mobile-Friendly
  • Answers Questions
  • Informative
  • Original
  • Shareable
  • Solves Problems
  • Inspiring
  • Readable
  • Visual
  • Entertaining
  • Educational

And for me, low-quality content:

  • Has no target audience.
  • Has no goal / purpose.
  • Is not optimized.
  • Is unsuccessful.

On the other hand, Google defines quality content as:

  • Useful and informative.
  • More valuable and useful than other sites.
  • Credible.
  • High quality.
  • Engaging.

A term that also comes up often is E-A-T which comes from Google’s search quality rating guidelines. Simply put E-A-T means:

  • Expertise: Your unique skills, information, or knowledge.
  • Authority: Other people know about and recognize your skills or knowledge.
  • Trust: People believe what you think, say, or do and feel secure buying from or endorsing you.

Google considers content as low quality when it has the following elements:

  • Inadequate E-A-T.
  • Main content quality is low.
  • Unsatisfying amount of main content.
  • Exaggerated / shocking title.
  • Ads or supporting content distracts from main content.
  • Unsatisfying amount of info about website or content creator.
  • Mildly negative reputation of website or content creator.

What’s the best action to take when you find out that you have low-quality content? Should you remove or improve it?

This is what Google’s Gary Illyes had to say:

Illyes talked about removing content a couple of years later and said that:

“It[‘]s not guaranteed that you will see any positive effect from that… For those that don’t show up in the search results, those are not indexed, and if they are not indexed then typically they are not affecting your site.”

Google’s John Mueller has also opined on the topic in a Google Webmaster Hangout:

“Improving it means that the rankings can only go up, whereas by removing it, can cause loss of rankings instead of the gains that some people think content removals will do.”

Both of these Googlers go against the idea of content removals. But where exactly did that idea come from?

It was actually from Google’s Michael Wyszomierski back in 2011 who said:

“In addition, it’s important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole… Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.”

These different recommendations present a conflict. Which tactic is right?

Content Inequality

In 2017, I ran the numbers and figured out that the top 3 percent of posts on SEJ drove as much
traffic as the bottom 97 percent combined.

We’re talking about a few hundred posts driving as much as several thousand posts.

Metrics to Help Define Quality

We have all these vague statements on content quality from Google, but how do we assign actual metrics?

Here are five metrics we used in SEJ that you can use as well:

  • Pageviews
  • Organic traffic
  • Links
  • Conversions
  • Engagement

Ultimately, there are a lot of variables that influence the success of your content so use your best judgment whenever you’re evaluating your content.

Step 3: Determine What to Do with Your Existing Content

The final step of this process is making data-driven decisions about whether you should improve (update, rewrite, or consolidate) or remove (deindex) old content from search engines.

There are five possibilities for your content:

Scenario 1: No Changes Needed

You won’t need to change anything in your content if:

  • All information is accurate, or has historic value.
  • It consistently gets good traffic and engagement.
  • It has attracted many quality links and social shares.
  • It ranks in Position 1-3.
  • It generates conversions.

If content is already working well for you, leave it alone. Focus on areas where you can actually make gains.

Scenario 2: Content Update / Refresh

Content that needs an update or a refresh:

  • Gets consistent traffic (or used to).
  • Has earned some valuable links / shares.
  • Ranks on Page 1 of Google.
  • Few / no conversions.
  • Below average engagement.

How to Do It

To do a content update / refresh, you’ll need to:

  • Update information so it is accurate.
  • Make it better than your SERP competitor(s).
  • Keep it on the same URL (whenever possible)

For example, for the past few years, SEJ’s Assistant Editor Anna Crowe has published a marketing calendar post that needs to be refreshed yearly.

In 2016, we published the first version, which got a respectable 22,000 reads, ranked in the top 2 of Google, and got ~2,000 pageviews per month, on average.

By the end of 2017, the content needed an update for 2018.

The results:

  • #1 ranking for [marketing calendar].
  • 64,000 reads
  • About 5,000 pageviews per month, a more than 2x improvement.

Scenario 3: Content Rewrite

Your content needs to be rewritten if the following apply:

  • Currently gets little or no traffic.
  • No longer attracts new links / shares.
  • Doesn’t rank on Page 1.
  • Is it indexed?
  • No conversions.

How to Do It

Usually, a content that needs to be rewritten has a useful, relevant, or helpful topic, but it’s just written poorly. To address that, make sure to:

  • Start content from scratch.
  • Update information so it is accurate.
  • 301 redirect old to new post on a new (optimized) URL.

From Google Shares How 301 Redirects Pass PageRank, we know:

  • Google can forward PageRank through 301 redirects.
  • Not all 301 redirects pass 100 percent PageRank.
  • A 301 redirect will pass 100 percent PageRank only if the new page closely matches the topic of the old page.

For example, SEJ had a post on a popular SEO topic – subfolders vs. subdomains. However, our version, which was written in 2008, had fallen off Page 1 of Google and was only get about 50 pageviews per month.

So Jenny Halasz, who writes SEJ’s Ask an SEO column, rewrote it and we published with the title Subdomains vs. Subfolders: Which Is Better for SEO & Why?

The results were ridiculously awesome:

  • #1 ranking
  • 30,000 reads
  • About 4,000 pageviews per month, an 80x improvement.

Scenario 4: Content Consolidation

Here are the reasons why you might want to consider consolidating your content:

  • You have multiple articles on one topic.
  • One piece gets some traffic; others get little or none.
  • They do not attract any new links or shares.
  • The article is not ranking on Page 1 or…
    • The wrong page ranks.
    • Two pages are competing on the same SERP.

Below is an example:

Content Consolidation

Combining content when needed gets the approval of Google’s John Mueller. He said of the topic:

“Probably. I think that’s something that generally… we see if you take two or three or four kind of weaker pages and merge them into one, even within the same site or externally, then that’s something where we can say that this is a stronger page.

We can see that… more parts of the site are referring to this one single piece of content so it’s probably more relevant than those individual small pieces that you had before.

How to Do It

So how exactly do you go about this? Follow these steps:

  • Create one awesome piece of content.
  • Start from scratch, but you can reuse any useful existing content.
  • Make it better than your competitors.
  • 301 redirect to new (optimized) URL.

So that’s just what we did. SEJ Contributor Ashley Ward wrote How to Do a Content Audit: The Ultimate Checklist.

The results were great:

  • Ranking on Page 1
  • 8,000 reads
  • About 300 pageviews per month, a 10x improvement.

Scenario 5: Content Deletion / Deindexing

Your content needs to get the boot if:

  • It’s “thin content”.
  • It’s poorly written / off-topic / syndicated / stolen / plagiarized.
  • It has no historic significance.
  • It has a very low number of pageviews.
  • It has few or no traffic, links, shares, conversions, or engagement.

Here’s one example of terrible content. It got few pageviews or shares, and is honestly just content nobody would ever want to read:

What the Ants Taught Me About Successful Internet Marketing SEJ article

So how do you know whether to remove content from your site? It’s all in how you answer these four questions:

Is Removing Content Dangerous

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then removing content could be dangerous.

But if you answer “no,” to all these questions, then it’s time for that content to go.

Key Takeaways

To find out whether you need to improve or remove your old content, follow these steps:

  • Audit: Know what content you have.
  • Evaluate: Improve content if you can (rewrite, consolidate, update) or remove content if you can’t (deindex, delete from website).
  • Measure: Use metrics that matter to your company and use data to decide the fate of your content.


Thanks everyone for all the great questions. I’ve tried to answer as many as possible here. Let’s dive in!

Q: If all your content is not high quality, should a new website be the opportunity to delete all of it to create high-quality content?

A: Unless your website is currently penalized, or has been penalized in the past, or if the domain name somehow ties you to a niche/market that you want to exit, I don’t see a reason why you can’t start from scratch at the same domain.

Creating great content is a hard process. But the rewards are there for those who can do it well over a long period of time. It will just take Google a bit of time to figure out that things have changed and reassess all the new content and its quality – and figure out what the new and improved you is all about now.

Q: How might all this translate to an ecommerce site? I only deal with ecommerce and our POCs will consistently fight us on content pruning

A: The best way to deal with pushback is to get OK with a small trial to make your case. Start by using your analytics data to tell your story.

Show that the content is currently doing nothing for your site, whether it’s traffic/sales/whatever. This should open the door to get the OK to try out content pruning and measure the results.

If you can then showcase a win, then you should be able to make the case for scaling up. Talk data and focus in on the metrics that they want to see grow, and how content pruning will help you get there. 

Q: Where do you 301 the thin pages you delete if there isn’t a logical destination / another page about the same topic?

A: You could 301 it to a category page. If that doesn’t work, I’d just deindex it. 

Q: Does this apply to sites with low page counts? SEJ has 18k+ pages and tons of authority. Would this still work on a site that has 150 pages or less?

A: I haven’t tried it on a site that small, but yeah I honestly doubt you’d see the same results. However, if you start producing and publishing more content, in a couple years you may have a bit more to work with. 

Q: If I delete a boatload of thin content and redirect to my homepage, are there any downsides to that? I could just delete, but some have a little bit of authority.

A: If the topics are relevant to your space/niche/industry, it should be OK.

But if you’re redirecting a lot of content on random topics to the homepage, I could see it being confusing to Google, especially if those keywords aren’t used anywhere on the homepage.

It’s the whole idea of am I doing an A to A or B to B redirect. But if you’re redirecting topics B, C, D, E, and F to A, and they’re all different, I could see where you would either see no benefit from it, or possibly even a slight ding from it.

Q: If I deindex/delete a page, do I need to 301 it? Or is that not necessary since I really want it to disappear. 

A: If it has any value (e.g., link equity) and you could 301 it to a relevant page, you should. If not, then no. 

Q: As the algo gets better at ranking content for the most precise keywords (via neural matching/deep synonyms, etc.) would you say that it’s natural for some content to simply not rank as strongly for the same keyword over time OR rank for fewer total number of keywords over time?  Meaning.. this is an algorithmic change, not really a content issue?

A: Google is absolutely trying to get better about matching queries to user intent (with mixed results). So we must adjust our thinking and content as well.

If you have a piece of content that used to rank well for certain queries, you should check those SERPs now. See what Google is ranking now.

  • Has the intent changed (e.g., maybe once it was a transactional/bottom of funnel search, but now it’s an informational/top of funnel search)?
  • Or are they showing featured snippets, or videos, or news results, or any other special content result blocks.

If it is an algorithmic issue, it’s still a content issue you must deal with if you want to maintain your visibility.

Q: I just wonder that after you rewrite the content, is the target keyword still be the same? 

A: Yes. 

Q: I do not show ANY ads on my pages. Is that good or bad?

A: The lack of ads is neither good nor bad, taken alone, in terms of content performance.

In terms of user experience, it’s obviously good, because pretty much everyone dislikes ads. Plenty of sites with advertising rank well, and plenty of sites without ads rank well.

Q: From a customer service perspective with educational based content, what are some other metrics you’d recommend for good “quality”? Conversion doesn’t really make sense. 

A: Google Analytics has some good content metrics. Time on Page. Bounce Rate. Session Duration. These are all indicators of content success.

I’m also a huge fan of the New vs. Returning report, because it will give you an overall feel of whether your content is making people come back, or if you’ve got a lot of one-and-dones. 

Q: To clarify, having the same primary keyword for multiple pages on the same website is a bad thing?

A: It can be. For example, let’s say you have one page that’s maybe three years old and has some outdated info. This page is outranking a really good and newer page. I’d consider that a problem.

Ultimately, though, this really depends on your own strategy and what you want users to do if they land on your page for a certain query.

But as Loren mentioned in the Q&A during the webinar, if you have a couple pages competing with each other low on Page 1 or beyond, sometimes sacrificing one of those 2 pages can help the other jump up even higher.

Q: How do you gauge content success when you are entering a new market area where you are not recognized.  When should the content success be assessed in this situation.

A: Whenever you’re entering a new market, it will take time to figure out exactly who your audience is and what content they want. With content, you definitely need to experiment.

A lot of these experiments will fail, but that’s perfectly OK, because you can learn as much from content that fails as content that succeeds. 

I’ve built content for a domain from scratch, and when I’ve done this my thinking is this: I’m creating content now that will help me later. Generally speaking, it should take about a year before you can properly assess your content performance.

But it could be as long as 18 months – or sometimes even longer, depending on how often you publish, how much competition you have, and how much demand there is for your content, among other variables. 

Q: When you rewrite, do you modify content on the same URL or create a new URL? Why do a redirect and not just use the same URL?

A: This can go either way. If you think the URL is SEO friendly, then keep it and modify and republish the content (with an updated date, if you include dates).

I found, with SEJ, that a lot of our URLs weren’t optimized, or durable/evergreen. So, for instance, we have a lot of posts with numbers in them (e.g., 10 Things You Need to Know About SEO). And the URL might be 10-things-you-need-to-know-about-seo.

But what if you want to rewrite it and make it 11 things? Or 15 things. Or what if I totally want to abandon the list format and do something else?

Then the URL doesn’t match the title, which I think it troublesome. It keeps you in a box. Or what if you want to use a better word than things, which is vague. 

If you have an unoptimized URL, and it’s still getting traffic, it may feel dangerous to change it, especially if it’s an important page.

I’ve shared our results – the process has worked for us and helped us grow traffic. If you’re worried, you can always start small, and see if this process works for you. 

Q: Your presentation seems to focus mostly on posts. What about pages? Will they also improve if refreshed regularly? (i.e., Home, About Us, Services, Categories,) etc.

A: Yes. Pages that show signs of a significant decline can benefit from a refresh. Your content is only good until it stops helping you. Once you reach that point, you need to refresh it.

But I wouldn’t suggest refreshing content if it’s still performing well or doing whatever you want it to do. And always update any static pages to keep them up to date – e.g., if you no longer offer a service or someone on your about us page is no longer the person to contact, you want to update that immediately. 

Q: If consolidating multiple posts on the same topic, I’m concerned the consolidated piece will be too long. How do we go about navigating the length issue (or is this not an issue)?

A: When consolidating, you only want to salvage the best parts of anything you reuse. You don’t need to save or re-use everything.

So say if you have 4 posts on the same topic – one is 400 words, one is 500 words, another is 1000 words, and another is 750 words. That doesn’t mean you now should publish something in the neighborhood of 2500 words. (Unless that’s what it takes to rank on the query you’re targeting.)

Look at the SERP and check the word counts for what’s ranking in the top 10. If it’s 1100 words, you want to do something in a similar range. 

Q: Do you recommend using the robots.txt file to keep categories from being indexed?  How do you  get around Google wanting to “see” everything?

A: I don’t think Google wants to see everything anymore. It sees too much content as it is. You should let Google only see your best and most useful content.

For many queries today, category pages aren’t ranking as well as they used to. Mainly because, if a user clicks on a page, they typically are looking for information/resources, not to go hunting through links on a category page.

Ultimately it comes down to your strategy and how important category pages are for you.

Q: Many of the websites I work on are websites of print magazines, and much of the older and outdated content is archive material from the print edition. Would this have “historic value” or is it harming our sites?

A: When I talked about historic value, I’m basically talking more about news, such as coverage of important developments in your industry, trends or events. If your archived material is a genuinely good resource for your audience, then I don’t think that will hurt your site (it will likely be neutral at worst). 

With SEJ, it is the case that we have covered thousands of news stories about search and digital marketing over the years. I think those news posts have historic value.

One thing you can consider doing is finding ways to promote that older content – maybe via social media updates, a mention in a newsletter, or a “flashback” type of feature where you talk about something that happened on this day five years ago. 

Q: Can you elaborate further on the E-A-T concept?

A: I’d suggest reading Google Says You Need Expert Writers: Content Standards from the New Search Guidelines. 

Q: We have a lot of blog article throughout the years that basically do the same thing. Cover the same topic. Share the same info. Would we be better off deleting old posts, pointing URLs to the best version, or leave them all up?

A: If the old posts aren’t getting any traffic or doing anything to help your site (looking at the metrics that matter to you), I would definitely suggest 301 redirecting all the old posts to your newest and most awesome “hero” post on that topic. If that doesn’t exist, then create it. And use anything you can from the old posts. 

Q: Doesn’t having six articles ranking on Content Audit push your competitors to a later page?

A: No, because we weren’t ranking on Page 1 with any of these articles. After we consolidated, we finally got on Page 1. 

Q: Did you change the URL and redirect on the subdomains vs. subfolders article or keep the same URL?

A: Yes, we published the new article on a new URL and 301 redirected the old post to the new. 

Q: If you have 3-4 articles on page 1, including a couple in top 3, would you still consolidate?

A: Interesting problem to have. Consolidating is definitely a risk. If I had 4 articles on Page 1, I would consider testing out with the bottom 2 posts first, probably redirecting the lowest performing article (in terms of metrics) to the one ranking highest, and see what happens.

Maybe you’ll get that bump to Position 1. Sadly, there are no guarantees, whatever route you choose – but as a backup, you could always preserve the old content and undo the redirect if it fails to push any of your other 3 posts higher. 

Q: All of my pages have the same general layout, banner, menu, terms etc….  So apps, tell me I have duplicate content but the core content is different. Differnt blog posts etc… but all pages have common elements. Is that a problem?

A: That sounds like most webpages on most websites, where you have unique main content but similar layouts and elements. Doesn’t sound like a problem, unless you have the same content on multiple pages of your site; multiple URLs serving the same content; or if you have content that was stolen from other websites.

 Q: If we keep the URL the same but refresh the copy, do we need to also keep the metadata the same? 

A: If you can, make it better. Optimize it. Make sure the user benefit is clear. 

Q: When you say rewrite – how much of it is rewritten? 

A: However much needs to be rewritten. It could as little as changing a few dates or it could be a more substantial overhaul. Typically, when we do a rewrite, it’s 95-100 percent different. 

Q: I work for a nonprofit. Should we remove dates from our video pages and our story pages? They are evergreen and probably don’t really need dates.

A: You can. Dates aren’t essential. 

Q: What are the main KPIs that you analyze when you evaluate a new written piece of content? How can you measure quality?

A: Typically I focus on the total number of pageviews, rankings, organic traffic, link equity (Trust Flow/Citation Flow), and social shares. These metrics tell you whether the audience responded to it.

Content is just the format you use to deliver an idea or concept. The better the idea/concept, the better the content will be. Data is the only way to measure quality, so choose the metrics that matter most to you.

Q: Very targeted and specific content on a blog that does not have lots of readers, is that quality content still? What is the minimum # of readers?

A: This will vary. Typically, I use the 80-20 rule as a starting point. Meaning, look at the bottom 20 percent of your content first. This is typically content that just didn’t work for whatever reason. So it won’t start magically working for you today or a year from now.

Q: How often shall an optimized content be checked as I assume that it takes some time until the change has some impact. Is there a recommended timeframe as to when to update content?

A: If it’s evergreen, check it either quarterly or yearly. Quarterly whenever you’ve made any changes and you want to assess if they’re working or not.

Yearly for everything. It also is a good idea when a major algorithm is announced or highly suspected to see if any of your pages ranking/traffic dropped. You might notice some patterns you can address.

Q: Why would you change multiple variables on a content page – like your Paypal example – rather than push it out incrementally and review? Could the Paypal anomaly be related to a lack of topical authority…or Your Money or Your Life ?

A: We had successfully changed multiple variables before. Our goal is always to put out the best piece of content we can.

In all the examples I shared (aside from the content refresh) plus dozens of others, we had changed authors, URLs, and content. And it had worked for us. It could be a question of topical authority, but that wouldn’t explain HubSpot ranking #1. 

Q: If you have a topic that keeps updating year after year, would you not recommend putting the year (i.e. 2019) in the URL? If the date were in the URL, it can help with optimization for the search query, but every year, we’d have to 301, and I know we don’t want a lot of 301 redirects. What do you recommend?

A: Having the year in the URL is an intent signal. We actually found that putting the year in the URL was detrimental to rankings after a certain point because it would rank well, but then lose all its value once the new year comes around.

Whenever possible, I’d recommend evergreen/durable URL so you can keep building authority for one URL year after year. You can more easily change the headline/title tag/meta info to include a year.  

Q: I’ve heard that 750 words is a criteria for blogs. Is that the case or is that more myth? And what word count would you suggest for content as for some topics doing content to 1,500 words is really hard.

A: Figure out what query you want to rank for. See what the average length is of the posts on Page 1 for that query. There is no ideal or perfect word count that works in all instances. It varies by query.

I’ve seen posts with 300 words outperform posts with 3,000 words. Really, you should write for your audience. Entertainment content is more fluffy/shorter than say marketing content. 

Q: So when you updated a dated piece, you just rewrote the Title and updated the content?

A: Yes. Titles can always be improved. And we test our headlines as well. We try to always test out 3 headlines and pick the winner based on engagement (clicks). 

Q: Were there other paid campaigns built around high performing pages to help them rank organically?  

A: No. We only do paid campaigns for our ebooks and sponsored content, they weren’t part of this case study.

Q: So, when you’ve got a couple of below average pages and merge them into one better page with a better slug… what do I do with the old page urls? Can I 301 several pages to the same new URL?

A: Exactly.

Q: Would you apply this to all areas of content? Such as health care terms blog article of “what is an explanation of benefits”.  This information hasn’t changed?

A: If the info hasn’t changed, but you aren’t ranking, getting some fresh traffic and engagement to the topic could be all you need to help you gain visibility.

The example I used was subdomains vs. subfolders, which is a topic that’s still talked about and debated today as it was 10 years ago.

Remember: not everyone in your audience will read everything you publish every day. They may miss it.

So republishing content can give it a second chance and also open it up to new people who weren’t following you a year ago. And even if people read it a year or longer ago, it’s highly likely they will have forgotten they read it. 

Q: If your site has a listing section of businesses – these don’t generate that much traffic. Would you advise to dump this?

A: If the goal is solely to generate traffic, and it’s not doing that, then there’s a solid argument to dump it, yes.

[Video Recap] Content Cleansing: Why & How You Must Improve or Remove Old Content

Here’s the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.

See the SlideShare below.

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, March 2019

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SEO guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile for more connections, better leads



LinkedIn has the unfortunate reputation of being a platform for stuffy CEOs, spammy salespeople and college students that were required to make a profile in their university career skills class.

For that reason, many business owners and marketers treat their LinkedIn profile (if they even have one) like an online resume. They list their credentials, add a little blurb about who they are and hope that someone is intrigued enough to network with or hire them.

What they – and likely you – don’t know about LinkedIn is that it is a powerful search engine that has the power to drive targeted, high-volume traffic to your profile.

Not only that, but that traffic can very well turn into valuable professional relationships and new clients.

It’s time to stop sleeping on this platform and start tapping into that power.

LinkedIn is not just a resume

With LinkedIn optimization, you will build connections with some of the best and brightest in your industry and attract your ideal clients directly to your profile and inbox.

From profile optimization and SEO to content posting and engagement, this guide covers everything you need in order to turn your LinkedIn profile into a brand-building, lead-generating machine.

More than SEO – Full throttle LinkedIn optimization

Many LinkedIn optimization guides start and end at SEO, but I say that SEO is just the tip of the iceberg.

As with your business website, the success of your inbound marketing through LinkedIn not only depends on traffic but also on conversion optimization.

If you focus all of your efforts on SEO, without fully optimizing your profile for conversions, you aren’t making the most of the traffic coming in.

That’s why I put all of the LinkedIn SEO best practices to the test AND applied my own expertise around conversion copywriting, sales funnels and conversion optimization.

The result of that testing is this guide – which includes sections about profile aesthetic, creating a lead funnel, writing compelling copy on your profile and much more.

The LinkedIn optimization guide covers:

You’ll also learn how to craft a high-converting “welcome” message for new connections, attract your ideal clients directly to your profile and build authority with LinkedIn articles.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

1. Spruce up your profile aesthetic

One of the best things about your LinkedIn profile is how much real estate you have in terms of optimization.

Sure, the obvious places are your headline, summary and experience sections, but you can also take advantage of your profile photo and cover photo sections. This is what I call optimizing your “profile aesthetic” – as you aren’t adding SEO keywords, but are tailoring the look of your profile to your target audience.

Do looks really matter? You tell me.

How important is the design of your business website to how it appeals to potential clients/customers?


Optimize your profile’s curb appeal

I’m a strong proponent of squeezing every bit of juice out of a platform in order to have it work for my business. When it comes to LinkedIn, that means not only having it talk the talk, but look the look.

To optimize your profile’s “curb appeal,” you are going to focus on two features: the profile photo and the cover photo.

Profile photo

We are all familiar with the dull, grainy headshots on LinkedIn. If you want to take your LinkedIn branding seriously, I say: Dare to stand out!

You’ll want a professional, high-quality image that highlights your personality and business. Something that your potential clients will find approachable.

  • High-quality image – Clear, not pixelated
  • Close shot of your face
  • Simple background
  • Appropriate attire
  • Smile!

LinkedIn suggests having an image where your face takes up 60% of the frame. (I don’t follow this suggestion myself – oops!)

For some industries, your look may include professional attire and a corporate background. For others, it could be more casual. The key is to appeal to what your target audience is most familiar with in working with people like you.

I’m an SEO content writer who typically works from my laptop all over the world. My clients know this of me and don’t expect me to be wearing slacks and sitting in a corporate office. But if I were trying to land high-ticket corporate consulting clients for my SEO firm, I’d likely go with a different aesthetic.

And please, ditch the selfie. I highly recommend investing in a professional headshot for this. It will make a huge difference – taking you from amateur to expert.

Cover photo

The cover photo section also gives you ample real estate to tell profile visitors what you (and your business) are all about.

The default LinkedIn profile cover photo is a blue background with geometric shapes and dots. As far as us business owners are concerned, this is a near seven inches of desktop real estate that is going to waste.

Let’s make it count.

You can easily create a custom Cover image using Photoshop or Canva that includes a professional background and copy that appeals to your target audience.

Best practices include:

  • Adding a tagline telling profile visitors what you do and who you serve
  • Adding your website URL and social media handles
  • Having an attractive backdrop image that draws in your target audience
  • Including a call-to-action, or otherwise letting users know how to contact you

In the example above, we see how this LinkedIn profile makes ample use of the cover photo section by including a photo of the business owner at a speaking event, a bold description of what he does (“Grow your FB group, grow your business!”) and a clear CTA to visit his website.

With this, users know at a glance what he does, who he helps and how best to reach him – all without having to dig through his entire profile. Users can sign up for his free training – and join his email list – right away.

By optimizing the look of your profile, you give the best possible first impression to your potential connections. You also make it easier for potential clients to understand what you are about and how to get ahold of you.

Once your profile is pretty, it’s time to move on to the rest of the sections.

2. Write compelling profile copy

As an SEO content writer and copywriter, I geeked out when it dawned on me that LinkedIn is a great place to implement conversion copywriting. It really is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, many of us have treated our LinkedIn profile like a resume – concise and professional, yet boring.

LinkedIn was built around the idea of professionals connecting with other professionals. You won’t effectively do that if your profile reads like the ingredients section on the back of a bran flakes cereal box.

Write with your target audience in mind

Instead, write your LinkedIn profile like you would your online dating profile, only, more professional.

Make it interesting, add pizzazz and write it to appeal to the type of people you want to attract.

There are a few primary areas where you can do this, and those are your headline, summary and experience sections.


Your headline is the line of text directly beneath your name on your profile. LinkedIn gives you about 120 characters of space here to tell visitors who you are and what you offer.

Your headline should be a combination of LinkedIn SEO keywords (which we will discuss in section three of this guide) and compelling copy. That’s because it works to both attract traffic and keep users engaged with your profile.

You want to be uber clear about what you do. This is not a space for witty taglines like “Probably out fishin’” or “I rank it, you bank it!” Not only do headlines like these not include keywords, but they can leave profile visitors feeling confused about what exactly it is that you do.

I suggest either keeping your headline chocked full of keywords, with a bit of finessing copy (“I’m a digital marketing strategist that help small businesses reach more customers online.”) or taking the time to craft a compelling headline with conversion copywriting.

In the example above, this business owner is straight to the point by simply listing what her job title is and the services she offers. This is fine. It includes proper keywords that could potentially draw in people that are looking for services like hers.

By contrast, this business owner focuses less on keywords and more on appealing to people looking for “business success” through a “best-in-class” partnership.

Note that both examples fill up their headline with copy and keywords, ensuring that none of that space goes to waste.

Not a great writer? You may want to reach out to a professional copywriter to help you craft a message that appeals to your target audience.

Later on, we will discuss how to find LinkedIn SEO keywords to include in your profile.

Summary section

Your Summary section is by far the largest space for adding compelling copy and LinkedIn SEO keywords. With over 100 words worth of space, you can’t afford to NOT optimize this section.

This is where visitors go to learn even more about you, your business and the services that you offer.

I like to compare it to the about page on a business website. And every great copywriter will tell you that your about page is about your audience, not about you.

You need to craft a summary that speaks to what your target audience is looking for. This is not a place to simply rattle off your accomplishments and services.

Ask yourself, What is my potential audience looking for when it comes to working with someone like me?

Market research will be able to answer this for you.

If you conducted market research prior to adding copy to your business website, then you can apply the same concepts here. If you haven’t conducted market research in order to figure out your audience’s struggles, pain points, needs, and wants, you will want to do that first.

Once you have your market research in hand, you will write a summary that appeals to your target audience/ideal clients. You will simply address their primary struggle and how you will be able to help them overcome that struggle.

In the example above, you can see how I address the primary struggles that SEO agencies have when it comes to outsourcing SEO content: poor quality and writers’ lack of SEO knowledge. Then, I go on to explain how I do things differently, what to expect when working with me and how best to contact me.

Your summary section shouldn’t ramble on and on; it should be concise, targeted and written with a purpose. Get your message across as efficiently and effectively as possible so that you can move visitors along your profile funnel without delay.

Experience section

The experience section is where I see most business owners getting lazy and treating their profile like a resume. I used to do this myself. Not anymore.

Your experience section is another place to include LinkedIn SEO keywords and compelling copy that convinces users that you are the right fit for them.

You do this by writing each Experience in a way that highlights what you took away from working at that company and the results you got for them.

Above is an example of how a LinkedIn user has used the experience section to include detailed summaries of the work she did at certain companies, the projects she was a part of and the results she generated through these projects.

For your own profile, you can mention things like percentage increase in traffic that you generated for an SEO client, an uptick in conversions for a Facebook ads client or how you increased a client’s business revenue year over year.

Highlighting these results is a great way to show profile visitors that you not only have experience, but how you can replicate those results for them.

I suggest writing naturally here, rather than including a bulleted list of everything you have done. Hand-pick your best examples and make them super compelling. Speak to what your potential clients are searching for and let them know how you can generate the results that they want.

Top tips

  • Add experience items for each of your top clients (and link to their company profile), being sure to describe the work you did and the results you generated for them.
  • Use layman’s terms whenever possible. Don’t assume that your audience knows what “CTR,” “schema markup,” “KPIs,” “keyword cannibalization” or other industry terms mean.
  • Remove any experience examples that irrelevant to the audience you aim to serve. If you offer SEO services to law firms, they don’t need to know that you were a Boy Scout in sixth grade or that you were party chair at your college fraternity.
  • Include references to any publications you write for or industry organizations you are a part of.

3. Implement LinkedIn SEO

LinkedIn SEO differs from regular SEO due in the fact that the keywords that users type in to find services and businesses on LinkedIn aren’t always the same as what users type into Google.

That’s because the average user doesn’t consider LinkedIn to be a search engine. They use it as it is intended – as a social media platform – and therefore use short-tail terms that match users’ job titles.

While users may use keywords like “copywriting services for small businesses” in Google, they are more likely to use terms like “copywriter” or “writer” on LinkedIn.

However, when users do search long or short tail terms in Google, LinkedIn profiles have the chance to rank in the SERPs. That’s why I suggest optimizing your profile with both SEO keywords and what I call “LinkedIn SEO keywords.”

Finding SEO keywords

To find SEO keywords to use in your profile, simply conduct keyword research as you would if you were finding keywords for your business website.

What do you want your profile to rank for?

Do these terms get decent search volume, with low competition?

Do they match the intent of your target audience?

These are all questions you’ll want to consider.

Generate a list of terms that are worth ranking for and that have a reasonable search volume. With this list, you will start on your LinkedIn SEO keyword research and then you’ll optimize your profile with a combination of these terms.

Finding LinkedIn SEO keywords

Unfortunately I have yet to find a tool that provides search volume data for keywords used on LinkedIn.

Therefore, this is not a hard science. But, if you are skilled in SEO, you can make some informed guesses around how keywords are being used on LinkedIn.

Here is my process for finding keywords on LinkedIn:

1. Search for the shortest, broadest term associated with the services that you offer.

Use LinkedIn’s search box to search for the broadest term that applies to your business.

If you have an SEO agency, this would be “SEO” or even “marketing.” As a Facebook ads expert, this would be “Facebook ads” or “advertising,” perhaps “social media.”

LinkedIn will automatically show you a list of the top results for that term in your network (more on this later).

2. Look at the full results.

Beneath the list of results, you will see an option to “See all results for .” Click on this to view the full results page.

This will take you to a page that shows you all of the results associated with this keyword, including the number of results, whether the results are connections, companies, groups, the location of the results and much more.

You will notice that the top results are likely connections already in your network – identified by a “1st,” “2nd” or “3rd” degree connection annotation. What this means is that you aren’t seeing the TRUE search results, as LinkedIn prioritizes showing people and companies that you have some existing connection with.

Our job then is to determine which terms yield the highest volume and best match results, across the board.

3. Take note of search volume.

Before moving on to the next step, make a note of how many results your initial search yields.

You can do this by looking at the original total, or by filtering it by people and companies. Do not add any other filters yet.

Basically, you want to know how many results are pulled up when users search for that term to find people or companies that offer services like yours.

4. See expanded results for first-, second- and third-degree connections.

Once you have recorded the initial “volume,” filter the results by ticking off the connection options.

This will pull up the profiles of people that you are connected with, as well as those that you are not connected with.

There’s no good way to see what others see when searching for your target keyword, but this gets you close. It will show you what keywords profile within and outside of your network are using, as well as how those profiles rank in LinkedIn for those terms.

This “search volume” will be your guide when it comes to deciding which terms are worth using in your profile.

5. Analyze the keywords used in the results.

Much like conducting competitor analysis of websites in your niche, you will now want to identify what keywords are being used in the “top ranking” profiles.

(Remember that is not the true search results, as they are skewed based on your degree of connection).

Note how your keyword is being used in the resulting profiles.

Are profiles using “SEO strategist” or “SEO specialist?” Are they simply listing “SEO, SEM, SMM” or are they more specific? See if you can find any trends here.

Finally, determine which terms are the best match for the kind of traffic you are trying to attract to your profile.

In the example above, we can see that most of these profiles use the term “SEO” near the beginning of the Headline, so this may be something we want to implement as well. “SEO strategist” has also been used.

Make a list of these terms. Then, enter these terms into the search box again and see what kind of results come up. Repeat this process until you have a list of the top 3-5 most used terms related to your initial “seed” keyword.

6. Reference your SEO keywords list.

Finally, you should compare your LinkedIn SEO keywords list to your regular SEO keywords list.

Is there an overlap? If so, keep these terms.

Are there some terms that are being used on LinkedIn but that may not be a great fit in the search engines? Decide whether you should replace this with a high-volume, low competition SEO keyword.

Eventually you will have a mix of terms that have the potential of drawing in traffic both from LinkedIn searches and Google searches.

Adding LinkedIn and SEO keywords to your profile

Once you have a solid list of keywords, you will want to incorporate them into your LinkedIn profile.

A plus side with LinkedIn, compared to Google, is that there is no evidence that keyword stuffing is penalized here. However, you want to keep your audience in mind and have your keywords fit into your copy in a compelling, natural way.

For my own profile above, I determined that more profiles used “SEO content” “content writer” and “copywriter” than they did “SEO copywriter” – despite “SEO copywriter” getting a fair amount of search volume from Google.

I also saw the terms “freelance” and “ghostwriter” used a lot. Finally, I included keywords like “B2B” and “SaaS” to attract the types of businesses I work with.

Some areas to add keywords:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Experience section
  • Recommendations
  • Skills section

If there are some regular SEO keywords that you don’t want to leave out, your experience section is a great place to add these.

If you found trends in terms of where these keywords were being included in the top ranking profiles, try to follow this in your own profile. At the same time, don’t make compromises if you think that your profile copy is stronger by taking a different approach.

In section six, I address how to generate recommendations, skills and endorsements, plus how to add keywords to these sections.

4. Create a profile ‘funnel’

Wondering why copywriting is so important for your LinkedIn profile?

Well, it’s because your goal is to turn your profile into a funnel for new leads.

While many LinkedIn users rely on visitors to take the initiative and contact them via direct message, you and I are going to do things differently. We are going to make it stupid easy for people to convert.

We’ll do this by funneling visitors down the page – from your cover photo and headline, to your summary, to your media section and, finally, to your inbox or landing page.

Photos and headline  – Awareness

After visitors have read the text on your cover photo and in your headline, they should have a pretty clear idea about who you are and who you help. They will then make the decision of whether to learn more about you.

Summary – Interest

The summary section is your chance to address any pain points they have, communicate what your unique selling point is, and briefly cover the kinds of services that you offer. This is where it’s super important to get your messaging on point, based on the market research you conducted earlier

Media – Decision

The media section on your LinkedIn profile allows you to add links to your website and blog posts or upload videos. This content can make all the difference in convincing visitors that you are the right fit for them.

While directing visitors to a page or post could be effective, this approach involves directing visitors off of your profile. There’s the chance of creating a bottleneck here, as visitors may drop off due to inconvenience, or the fact that it takes longer for them to read through text versus watching a short video.

That’s why I suggest adding a video to your media section instead. This video, again, should address the primary pain points your audience faces, communicate how you will help them and include a clear call-to-action.

If you do this effectively, you will build trust with your profile visitors and convince them to reach out to you directly.

Inbox or landing page – Action

The call-to-action in your video should tell visitors how best to contact you. This will likely be through LinkedIn direct message, or through your website. You may want to include a unique landing page for LinkedIn leads.

Your call-to-action should sound something like, “For x services, send me a message [on my website/through LinkedIn/through this link].”

Be specific about how visitors should reach you and what they should expect after they contact you. “Send me a LinkedIn message for a custom quote” is much more compelling than “Visit for more info.”

By creating a profile funnel, you are more likely to take advantage of the traffic coming to your profile. Without a funnel, the burden is on visitors to figure out what you offer, chase down the details on your website, and figure out how to contact you.

A funnel makes the process straightforward, simple and conversion-friendly.

5. Build SMART connections

While LinkedIn SEO and creating a profile funnel taps into the power of inbound marketing on LinkedIn, there’s another way to attract your ideal clients to your profile.

That method involves building connections with your target audience and professionals in your industry.

As we learned in the SEO section of this guide, LinkedIn prioritizes showing you your first-, second- and third-degree connections whenever you search for a keyword. It works the same way for your potential clients. If you are connected with people in their network, your profile is more likely to pop up when they search for one of your keywords.

Therefore, the more industry connections you have, the better.

Making the right kind of connections

Many LinkedIn users connect with every possible person they can find (aside from the clearly spammy profiles).

While this has yet to be tested, I am of the opinion that this can potentially weaken you profile, as you will become associated with profiles outside of your industry, making it less likely for your profile to be associated with your target keywords.

Is it beneficial be connected with loads of graphic designers in India if you provide legal SEO services in the United States? Common sense would say no. (Feel free to prove me wrong, though).

My take is that it makes sense to build connections within your industry and within the industries of your target audience.

As a legal SEO expert, that would mean connecting with other legal SEO agencies, digital marketing experts, law firms, law blog writers and the like. You can still get quite broad.

Be smart about the kinds of connections you want to have and how they could benefit your business in the short-term and long-term.

Finding your target audience on LinkedIn

While connecting with other people in your industry is simple, you will want to put more time and energy into connecting with people who fit your ideal client persona.

If you have been in business for a while, you will likely already know what these people look like. They could be small business owners, tech entrepreneurs, SaaS businesses, Fortune 500 companies, law firms, etc. Knowing this, you will simply use these identifiers to find profiles on LinkedIn that match.

If you are just starting out, you need to figure out what terms your target audience is using to describe themselves on LinkedIn.

You can do this by searching some general terms that you know about your audience (like “small business” or “contractor” or “mommy blogger”) and seeing what comes up in the LinkedIn results.

Dig around until you find people that fit your ideal client persona and take note of what terms they used in their headline and summary. Then, use these terms to find other people to connect with.

Connecting and saying “Hi”

One of the reasons why LinkedIn has had a bad reputation for being dull and spammy is because many users use the platform to cold pitch their new connections. We aren’t going to do this.

Every time you extend a connection request to someone, send them a message introducing yourself and why you want to connect with them.

Remember – you are practically strangers. It will take a bit for them to trust you and determine whether the connection is worth it.

Rather than jumping into the pitch, follow scripts similar to the ones below (which have gotten me a near 100% response rate):

Networking Script

“Hello [ name ],

Thanks for connecting. I see that we are both in the [ niche ] industry. I am an [ industry title ] myself. Are you working on anything interesting lately? Chat soon! – [your name ]”

This script implies that the person has already connected with you or may have extended the connection first. It creates a sense of familiarity versus making it seem like a random stranger is connecting with them.

It also gives a reason for the connection, instead of leaving room for the person to suspect ulterior motives. They know what you do, so they can decide whether the connection is worth their time.

Finally, it prompts the person to respond by asking them about themselves. This puts the ball in their court. And, if they happen to be working on a project that you could potentially help them with, it opens the door to having that conversation without you coming across as salesy.

Potential client script

“Hello [ name ],

Thanks for connecting. I see that you [ run a small business/have a law firm/are a tech entrepreneur/etc ]. I wanted to reach out because I [ help businesses like yours do x ]. Maybe there’s potential to work together. Are you working on anything interesting lately?”

Similar to the previous script, this script lets the person know who you are and why you want to connect with them, and leaves it up to them to respond to you.

There’s no pitch that implies that you know how you can help them – you don’t yet – or starts rambling about the services you offer.

This keeps the conversation more open and prevents the risk of you pitching them on one service when they may have asked you about a different service that you didn’t think to mention.

Let the conversation flow more naturally and they will likely ask you about services that are most relevant to them. Another benefit of this approach is that you avoid drawing in leads that may not be the best fit for you.

A final note about connections

Try to build as many connections as possible (following the process I outlined above), or at least reach that “500+” mark. This helps you build a more expansive network and appear as a trusted person in your industry.

6. Gather recommendations, skills and endorsements

Again, LinkedIn SEO isn’t quite as measurable as website SEO, but that’s part of the fun. By optimizing certain sections for keywords, you can test what works and what doesn’t and come up with your own lead generation strategy.

The recommendations, skills and endorsements sections are all areas where you can add LinkedIn SEO keywords, but they don’t bring any hard evidence that says they move the needle in terms of SEO. They may, however, move the needle when it comes to conversions.


LinkedIn recommendations are the “reviews” of your profile. This is where references and past clients can talk about their experience working with you and the results you have gotten for them.

Your clients will likely include keywords naturally here, which may or may not play a role in your profile SEO. If you prompt your network contact for recommendations, you may want to suggest that they include those target keywords, just in case.

SEO aside, recommendations are great social proof to show that you know what you are doing and that you bring awesome results for your clients. If visitors see loads of positive recommendations on your profile, this could be the final push they need in order to hire you.


LinkedIn allows you to add a list of skills to your profile that tells visitors what you are best at.

This is another area where it may be smart to include things that have your target keywords.

You can have three “top” skills, as well as a longer list of other skills that you have. I recommend listing your primary skills in the top three section, as these are the most likely to get endorsed (as they are seen first).


Endorsements are when other users endorse you for the skills on your profile. Again, this serves as social proof that you have the skills that you say you have.

You can reach out to users on LinkedIn to endorse your skills in order to boost your numbers. You can also endorse users for their skills, which could prompt them to contact you or endorse you back.

It’s best to have many endorsements for just a few skills versus only a few endorsements for many different skills.

7. Post the right kind of content, consistently

Posting on LinkedIn can be hit or miss, as few guides have covered how to “hack” the algorithm. That’s why I believe your success on LinkedIn (in terms of posting) depends on what works best for you and your audience.

Try different content methods – long-form posts, images, videos, shared blog posts, etc. – to see which get the best engagement. Repeat what works, ditch what doesn’t and pretty soon you will have a LinkedIn content strategy that fits your audience and business.

One thing to note is that it is difficult to test the success of your content without being consistent. You should post different types of content, multiple times throughout the day and then assess the results. If you are simply posting one short post per day, it’s unlikely that you will get any tangible data.

You may also want to look at what your competitors are posting and which types of posting are getting the most engagement there.

LinkedIn articles

The exception to this “post and pray” method is LinkedIn Articles.

LinkedIn gives that added algorithmic push to articles that are published on their platform.

While a shared blog post may attract a small handful of website visits, an article published on LinkedIn can easily trigger 2x, 3x or 5x the number of views.

For this reason, it may make sense to republish your existing blog content on LinkedIn. Just be aware of the ramifications of having two identical pieces of content competing for the same keywords. However, if website SEO isn’t a major concern to you, it could be worth taking this approach for the social traffic alone.

Finally, be sure to include a call-to-action within your LinkedIn article in order to take advantage of that traffic.

8. Give engagement, get engagement

While posting on LinkedIn can yield spotty results, engaging with other users on the platform appears to be much more promising.

That’s because whenever you engage on a post, your comment and name pops up on your connections’ LinkedIn feed. You can also pop up as a second- or third-degree Connection to users in their network, expanding your reach.

That is, the more of a presence you have on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to be seen by people inside and outside of your network.

It stands to reason then that most of your time on LinkedIn should be spent engaging with other peoples’ content, rather than posting your own content (until you come up with a content strategy that works). It’s the best way to connect with users one-on-one and reach profiles outside of your immediate network.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t post on LinkedIn at all, but in terms of the numbers, it’s clear that more new traffic is driven to your profile through engaging with other peoples’ posts.

When users see your comment they are likely to click into your profile to learn more about you. You can then reach out to these new viewers through a request to connect.

These views are reflected by your notifications and in your LinkedIn analytics.

9. Understanding your LinkedIn analytics

No optimization guide is worth its weight without showing the results in terms of cold, hard numbers. That’s why I was sure to test all of the LinkedIn best practices I encountered, as well as any optimization hacks I came up with on my own.

I recommend that marketers and business owners do the same, as LinkedIn optimization is still not cut-and-dry. The success of your LinkedIn strategy also depends on what works best for your target audience.

Profile views, connections and search appearances

LinkedIn offers you rather limited (but enough) data to see how your profile is performing.

You can see how many people have viewed your profile, how many have viewed your posts, how many people you have connected with, and how often you have appeared in the search results.

You can also see who has viewed your profile (unless they have a protected account) and examine trends over time.

Since implementing my own LinkedIn SEO strategy in January, I saw a 173% increase in profile views over the course of 30 days.

Post March 26, my average number of profile views has been around 50 per day. That is with very little posting or engaging on LinkedIn (roughly 1-3 times per day).

I have also grown my number of connections from 325 to 900-plus in 90 days, and have generated at least 10 qualified leads in that time (without outreach).

These results have come from a process of near constant testing. I have told others to implement micro-optimizations and analyze their LinkedIn analytics to see what is working and what isn’t.

Track your conversions

The goal of LinkedIn optimization isn’t merely more traffic and connections, though.

If you are starting on your own LinkedIn optimization journey, I recommend tracking how many leads you generate as a result of your efforts (LinkedIn does not track this for you). Only then will you truly know whether your strategy is paying off.

You can tap into your Google Analytics to see how many visitors you are getting from LinkedIn, and then set up conversion tracking there. However, if you are directing users to your LinkedIn inbox, you will have to track this manually or with a bot.

The numbers don’t lie. Follow what works and you will certainly see an uptick in connections, traffic and leads over time.

Turn your LinkedIn profile into a lead-generation machine

By following the LinkedIn optimization tips above and testing your own ideas for optimization, you can generate high-volume traffic to your profile and convert that traffic into qualified leads for your business.

The foundation of this strategy consists of conducting LinkedIn SEO keyword research, optimizing your profile aesthetic, building quality connections, and directing visitors through your custom profile funnel. Then, it’s just a matter of making adjustments based on what works for your target audience and business model.

Are you making the most of your LinkedIn profile? If not, start today.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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Jessica Foster is the Founder and lead SEO Strategist at Keys&Copy – an SEO agency with a focus on content marketing and SEO copywriting. She is also the founder of TrueToast Magazine, an online resource for and by millennial entrepreneurs. She lives in the very beautiful and very hipster Seattle, Washington.

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Byte, the Follow-Up to Vine, Begins Sending Out Beta Invites



Byte, a reboot of Vine from the same creator, has sent out the first 100 invites to its closed beta.

The app is simply described as a “looping video app,” and is expected to function the way Vine used to.

According to creator Dom Hofmann, Byte is already on track to being the true Vine reboot users have been hoping for:

Vine has managed to maintain an avid fanbase since being shut town by Twitter over two years ago.

Fans of Vine have been getting their fix by watching compilation videos on YouTube. Soon they may be able to create all-new memories with Byte.

The launch of Byte will certainly benefit from its built-in audience of former Vine users. However, since Vine was shut down, a new king has claimed the short-form video throne.

I’m talking about TikTok, which was downloaded more times than Instagram last year.

TikTok is a looping video app which can include licensed music, so that lends itself to a lot of creative lip-syncing videos.

The momentum of TikTok cannot be understated, as it’s rapidly becoming the app of choice among Gen Z users.

Where Byte can differentiate itself is with its user base. If Byte can attract older age groups then there’s a real opportunity to compete.

While TikTok is filled with lip syncing and teenage shenanigans, Byte can be the video-sharing home for older users.

Although it will be a while before we get to the point of seeing those apps compete, as Hoffman plans to run multiple beta tests before releasing Byte publicly.

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Google takes baby steps to monetize Google Assistant, Google Home



Google isn’t concerned about making ad revenue from Google Assistant and Google Home right now. The company is more focused on gaining market share for the moment. Nonetheless, it’s starting to insert paid-search ads into Assistant results on Android smartphones; it’s also starting to monetize Google Home “traffic” as well – though, more tentatively.

Ads in Assistant results. In February, Google started testing ads in Assistant results on the phone. Then in early April, Google officially introduced ads in situations where there are web search results (vs. answers): “When relevant, these results may include the existing ads that you’d see on Search today.” The difference for the time being is fewer ads in Assistant results than general search.

Audio ads on YouTube Music. Last week Google also decided to give Google Home smart speaker owners access to the free version of YouTube Music, which is ad-supported. The premium version without ads is $9.99 per month.

One way to look at this is as a competitive response to free Amazon Music on Alexa devices. However, it’s also a way to upsell Google Home users to the premium version or, alternatively, generate ad revenue. The ad-supported version of YouTube Music is currently available on Google Home or other Google Assistant-powered smart speakers in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia.

Revenue from transactions. Two years ago, Google suggested it would monetize Google Home and the Assistant through fees tied to transactions. This was chiefly going to happen through Google Express ordering. However Google Express has struggled to gain momentum and recently lost Walmart as a customer, although it still has more than 1,000 retailers on its site.

Google Pay is another way the company could make money from Google Assistant or Google Home transactions. It currently doesn’t charge merchant fees; however, might change over time.

Local services. Google is exposing a subset of local listings in response to queries for local service providers on Google Home and Google Assistant. There are currently no ads returned for these queries. However, merchants must be certified through the Google Guarantee program (previously only available with Local Services Ads) or via Google partners Porch or HomeAdvisor.

While there are currently no ads in these local listings, it would be easy for Google to start charging a fee for a Google Guarantee certification or include Local Services Advertisers with a “sponsored” disclaimer to alert users they were advertisers (or both).

Google smart displays. Google is reportedly renaming its smart display “Google Nest Hub” and going to release a larger-screen version. It would be easy for Google to include sponsored search or display ads on the screen. In some ways, this is the model that would be least disruptive to users. This is not currently happening, but marketers should anticipate some form of on-screen advertising on Google smart displays in the relatively near future.

One analyst estimated that Google had sold more than 50 million Home Hub smart displays globally and 43 million in the U.S. Google’s smart display also appears to be one smart speaker category in which it’s outselling rival Amazon Echo.

Other types of ads. Roughly two years ago, Google appeared to run an audio ad for Disney’s live action film Beauty and the Beast, which was triggered by users asking about their daily schedules (“what does my day look like?”). Google denied that it was an ad, but it appeared to be a test of some sort of partner promotion. No similar promotions have appeared since that time.

Along these lines, there are some high-profile Google Home placements that might command a premium from brand advertisers if Google were to make them available. Again, this is hypothetical but one can envision selected ad placements on Google Home that would reach a large, TV-sized audience.

Why we should care. If we accept that Google Home’s market share is only 25 percent of the smart speaker market, in the U.S. that’s still 25+ million devices. When you include the Assistant on smartphones, the number of devices jumps to more than a billion globally.

As the recent inclusion of ads in Assistant results on Android phones indicates, Google does intend to generate ad revenue from the Assistant and Google Home. In addition to the actual and hypothetical ideas above, there are probably other options not listed. However, marketers should expect Google to test and introduce more advertising options for Assistant-powered devices by next year at the latest.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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