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Why & How to Tackle Technical SEO Before Link Building

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Why & How to Tackle Technical SEO Before Link Building


When you consider a link building campaign, you may not be completely reaping the benefits of your SEO efforts if you ignore technical SEO.

The best results happen when you consider all the points of your website’s SEO:

In fact, there are situations when you must tackle technical SEO before ever thinking about getting links.

If your website is weak in technical SEO areas, or extremely confusing for search engines, it won’t perform as well regardless of the quality and quantity of backlinks you have.

Your top goals with technical SEO is to make sure that your site is:

  • Easily crawled by search engines.
  • Has top cross-platform compatibility.
  • Loads quickly on both desktop and mobile.
  • Employs efficient implementation of WordPress plugins.
  • Does not have any issues with misconfigured Google Analytics code.

These five points illustrate why it’s important to tackle technical SEO before link building.

If your site is unable to be crawled or is otherwise deficient in technical SEO best practices, you may suffer from poor site performance.

The following chapter discusses why and how you should be tackling technical SEO before starting a link building campaign.

Make Sure Your Site is Easily Crawled by Search Engines

Your HTTPS Secure Implementation

If you have recently made the jump to an HTTPS secure implementation, you may not have had the chance to audit or otherwise identify issues with your secure certificate installation.

A surface-level audit at the outset can help you identify any major issues affecting your transition to HTTPS.

Major issues can arise later on when the purchase of the SSL certificate did not initially take into account what the site would be doing later.

One thing to keep in mind is that you must take great care in purchasing your certificate and making sure it covers all the subdomains you want it to.

If you don’t, you may end up with some issues as a result, such as not being able to redirect URLs.

If you don’t get a full wildcard certificate, and you have URL parameters on a subdomain – using absolute URLs – that your certificate doesn’t cover, you won’t be able to redirect those URLs to https://.

This is why it pays to be mindful of the options you choose during the purchase of your SSL certificate because it can negatively affect your site later.

No Errant Redirects or Too Many Redirects Bogging Down Site Performance

It’s easy to create an HTTPS secure implementation with errant redirects.

For this reason, an eagle eye’s view of the site’s current redirect states will be helpful in correcting this issue.

It can also be easy to create conflicting redirects if you don’t keep watch on the redirects you are creating.

In addition, it’s easy to let redirects run out of control and lead to tens or many more redirects per site URL, in turn, leads to bogging down site performance.

The easiest way to fix this issue moving forward: make sure that your redirects are all created in a 1:1 ratio.

You should not have 10-15 or more redirect URLs per URL on your site.

If you do, something is seriously wrong.

Example of correct redirects

Content on HTTPS & HTTP URLs Should Not Load at the Same Time

The correct implementation is that one should redirect to the other, not both.

If you have both of them loading at the same time, something is wrong with the secure version of your site.

If you type in your site’s URLs into your browser, try and test https:// and http:// separately.

If both URLs load, you are displaying two versions of your content, and duplicate URLs can lead to duplicate content issues.

To make sure that you do not run into this issue again, you will want to do one of the following, depending on your site’s platform:

  • Create a full redirect pattern in HTACCESS (on Apache / CPanel servers)
  • Use a redirect plugin in WordPress to force the redirects from http://

Instead, this is an example of exactly what we want to display to users and search engines:

How to Create Redirects in htaccess on Apache / Cpanel Servers

You can perform global redirects at the server level in .htaccess on Apache / CPanel servers.

Inmotionhosting has a great tutorial on how to force this redirect on your own web host. But, for our purposes, we’ll focus on the following ones.

To force all web traffic to use HTTPS, this is the following code you will want to use.

You want to make sure to add this code above any code that has a similar prefix (RewriteEngine On, RewriteCond, etc.)

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !on
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/[0-9]+..+.cpaneldcv$
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/.well-known/pki-validation/[A-F0-9]{32}.txt(?: Comodo DCV)?$
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

If you want to redirect only a specified domain, you will want to use the following lines of code in your htaccess file:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/[0-9]+..+.cpaneldcv$
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/.well-known/pki-validation/[A-F0-9]{32}.txt(?: Comodo DCV)?$
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Don’t forget to change any URLs in the above examples to what is the correct implementation on your domain name.

There are other solutions in that tutorial which may work for your site.

WARNING: if you do not have confidence in your abilities to make the correct changes at the server level on your server, please make sure to have your server company/IT person perform these fixes for you.

You can screw up something major with these types of redirects if you do not know exactly what you are doing.

Secure Site redirect plugin

Use a Plugin If You Are Operating a WordPress Site

The easiest way to fix these redirect issues, especially if you operate a WordPress site, is to just use a plugin.

There are many plugins that can force http:// to https:// redirects but here are a few that will help make this process as painless as possible:

Caution about plugins – don’t just add another plugin if you’re already using too many plugins.

You may want to investigate if your server can use similar redirect rules mentioned above (such as if you are using an NGINX-based server).

It must be stated here: plugin weight can affect site speed negatively, so don’t always assume that the latest plugin will help you.

All Links On-site Should Be Changed From HTTP:// To HTTPS://

Even if you perform the redirects above, you should perform this step.

This is especially true if you are using absolute URLs, as opposed to relative URLs, where the former always displays the hypertext transfer protocol that you’re using.

If you are using the latter, this is less important and you probably don’t need to pay much attention to this.

Why do you need to change links on-site when you are using absolute URLs?

Because Google can and will crawl all of those links and this can result in duplicate content issues.

It seems like a waste of time, but it’s really not. You are making sure the end result is that Google sees exactly the site you want them to see.

One version.

One set of URLs.

One set of content.

No confusion.

Examples of links that should be changed from http:// to https://

No 404s From HTTP:// To HTTPS:// Transitions

A sudden spike in 404s can make your site almost impossible to crawl, especially if the links between http:// and https:// pages exist.

Difficulty crawling a site is one of the most common issues that can result from a spike in 404s.

Also, crawl budget wasted due to too many 404s showing up, and Google not finding pages that it should.

Why this impacts site performance, and why it matters:

While John Mueller of Google mentions that crawl budget doesn’t matter except for extremely large sites:

“Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that he believes that crawl budget optimization is overrated in his mind. He said for most sites, it doesn’t make a difference and that it only can help really massive sites.

John wrote “IMO crawl-budget is over-rated.” “Most sites never need to worry about this. It’s an interesting topic, and if you’re crawling the web or running a multi-billion-URL site, it’s important, but for the average site owner less so,” he added.”

A great article by Yauhen Khutarniuk, Head of SEO at SEO PowerSuite, puts this perfectly:

“Quite logically, you should be concerned with crawl budget because you want Google to discover as many of your site’s important pages as possible. You also want it to find new content on your site quickly. The bigger your crawl budget (and the smarter your management of it), the faster this will happen.”

It’s important to optimize for crawl budget because finding new content on your site quickly should be the priority, while discovering as many of your site’s high priority pages as possible.

How to Fix Any 404s You May Have

Primarily, you want to redirect any 404s from the old URL to the new, existing URL.

Check out Benj Arriola’s Search Engine Journal article for more information on 404s vs. soft 404s, and how to fix them.

One of the easier ways, especially if you have a WordPress site, would be to crawl the site with Screaming Frog and perform a bulk upload of your 301 redirect rules using the Redirection WordPress plugin.

Otherwise, you may have to create redirect rules in .htaccess.

Your URL Structure Should Not Be Overly Complex

The structure of your URLs is an important consideration when getting your site ready for technical SEO.

You must pay attention to things like randomly generating dynamic parameters that are being indexed, URLs that are not easy to understand, and other factors that will cause issues with your technical SEO implementation.

These are all important factors because they can lead to indexation issues that will hurt your site’s performance.

More Human-Readable URLs

When you create URLs, you likely think about where the content is going, and then you create URLs automatically.

This can hurt you, however.

The reason why is because automatically generated URLs can follow a few different formats, none of which are very human-readable.

For example:

  • /content/date/time/keyword
  • /content/date/time/string-of-numbers
  • /content/category/date/time/
  • /content/category/date/time/parameters/

None of these formats that you encounter are very human readable, are they?

The reason why it’s important is that communicating the content behind the URL properly is a large part of user intent.

It’s even more important today also because of accessibility reasons.

The more readable your URLs are, the better:

  • Search engines can use these to determine exactly how people are engaging with those URLs vs. those who are not engaging with those URLs.
  • If someone sees your URL in the search results, they may be more apt to click on it because of the fact that they will see exactly how much that URL matches what they are searching for. In short – match that user search intent, and you’ve got another customer.
  • This is why considering this part of URL structure is so important when you are auditing a site.

Many existing sites may be using outdated or confusing URL structures, leading to poor user engagement.

Identifying which URLs can be more human readable can create better user engagement across your site.

Duplicate URLs

One important technical SEO consideration that should be ironed out before any link building is duplicate content.

When it comes to duplicate content issues, these are the main causes:

  • Content that is significantly duplicated across sections of the website.
  • Scraped content from other websites.
  • Duplicate URLs where only one piece of content exists.

This can hurt because it does confuse search engines when more than one URL represents one piece of content.

Search engines will rarely show the same piece of content twice, and not paying attention to duplicate URLs dilutes their ability to find and serve up each duplicate.

Avoid Using Dynamic Parameters

While dynamic parameters are, in and of themselves, not a problem from an SEO perspective, if you cannot manage your creation of them, and get consistent in their use, this can become a significant problem later.

Jes Scholz has an amazing article on Search Engine Journal covering the basics of dynamic parameters and URL handling and how it can affect SEO. If you are not familiar with dynamic parameters, I suggest reading her article ASAP before proceeding with the rest of this section.

Scholz explains that parameters are used for the following purposes:

  • Tracking
  • Reordering
  • Filtering
  • Identifying
  • Pagination
  • Searching
  • Translating

When you get to the point that your URL’s dynamic parameters are causing a problem, it usually comes down to basic mismanagement of the creation of these URLs.

In the case of tracking, using many different dynamic parameters when creating links that search engines crawl.

In the case of reordering, using these different dynamic parameters to reorder lists and groups of items that then create indexable duplicate pages that search engines then crawl.

You can inadvertently trigger excessive duplicate content issues if you don’t keep your dynamic parameters to a manageable level.

You should never need 50 URLs with UTM parameters to track the results of certain types of campaigns.

The creation of these dynamic URLs for one piece of content can really add up over time if you aren’t carefully managing their creation and will dilute the quality of your content along with its capability to perform in search engine results.

It leads to keyword cannibalization and on a large enough scale can severely impact your ability to compete.

Shorter URLs Are Better Than Longer URLs

A long-held SEO best practice has been shorter URLs are better than longer URLs.

Google’s John Mueller has discussed this:

“What definitely plays a role here is when we have two URLs that have the same content, and we try to pick one to show in the search results, we will pick the short one. So that is specifically around canonicalization.

It doesn’t mean it is a ranking factor, but it means if we have two URLs and one is really short and sweet and this other one has this long parameter attached to it and we know they show exactly the same content we will try to pick the shorter one.

There are lots of exceptions there, different factors that come into play, but everything else being equal – you have a shorter one and a longer one, we will try to pick the shorter one.”

There is also empirical evidence that shows that Google ranks shorter URLs for more terms, rather than long and specific.

If your site contains super long URLs everywhere, you may want to optimize them into better, shorter URLs that better reflect the article’s topic and user intent.

Examples of overly complex URLs

Make Sure Your Site Has Top Cross-Platform Compatibility & Fast Page Speed

Site glitches and other problems can arise when your site is not coded correctly.

These glitches can result from badly-nested DIV tags resulting in a glitched layout, code with bad syntax resulting in call-to-action elements disappearing, and bad site management resulting in the careless implementation of on-page elements.

Cross-platform compatibility can be affected along with page speed, resulting in greatly reduced performance and user engagement, long before link building ever becomes a consideration.

Nip some of these issues in the bud before they become major problems later.

Many of these technical SEO issues come down to poor site management and poor coding.

The more that you tackle these technical SEO issues at the beginning with more consistent development and website management best practices, the better off you’ll be later when your link building campaign takes off.

Poorly Coded Site Design

When you have a poorly coded site design, your user experience and engagement can suffer and will be adversely affected.

This is yet another element of technical SEO that can be easily overlooked.

A poorly coded site design can manifest in several ways with:

  • Poor page speed.
  • Glitches in the design appearing on different platforms.
  • Forms not working where they should (impacting conversions).
  • Any other call to actions not working on mobile devices (and desktop).
  • Any tracking code that’s not being accurately monitored (leading to poor choices in your SEO decision-making).

Any of these issues can spell disaster for your site when it can’t properly report on, capture leads, or engage with users to its fullest potential.

This is why these things should always be considered and tackled on-site before moving to link building.

If you don’t, you may wind up with weaknesses in your marketing campaigns that will be even harder to pin down, or worse – you may never find them.

All of these elements of a site design must be addressed and otherwise examined to make sure that they are not causing any major issues with your SEO.

Pages Are Slow to Load

Since July 2018, Google rolled out page speed as a ranking factor in its mobile algorithm to all users.

Slow loading pages can affect everything, so it’s something that you should pay attention to on an ongoing basis, and not just for rankings.

But for all of your users also.

What should you be on the lookout for when it comes to issues that impact page speed?

Slow Loading Images

If your site has many images approaching 1 MB (1 megabyte) in file size, you have a problem.

As the average internet connection speed approaches over 27.22 Mbps download on mobile, and fixed broadband approaches over 59.60 Mbps download, realistically, this becomes less of an issue, but can still be an issue.

You will still face slower loading pages when you have such large images on your site. If you use a tool like GTMetrix, you can see how fast your site loads these images.

Typical page speed analysis best practices say that you should take three snapshots of your site’s page speed.

Average out the three snapshots, and that’s your site’s average page speed.

It is recommended, on average, for most sites, that images should be at most 35 – 50K per image, not more. This is depending on resolution, and pixel density (including whether you are accommodating the higher pixel densities of iPhones and other devices).

Also, use lossless compression in graphics applications like Adobe Photoshop in order to achieve the best quality possible while resizing images.

Efficient Coding Best Practices

Some people believe that standard coding best practices say that you should be using W3C valid coding.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines recommend using valid W3C coding to code your site.

Use valid HTML

But, John Mueller (and even Matt Cutts) have mentioned in the past that it’s not critical to focus on W3C-valid coding for ranking reasons.

Search Engine Journal staff Roger Montti discusses this conundrum in even further detail here: 6 Reasons Why Google Says Valid HTML Matters.

But, that’s the key word there. Focusing on it for ranking purposes.

You will find at the top of Google, for different queries, all sorts of websites that ascribe to different coding best practices, and not every site validates via the W3C.

Despite a lack of focus on that type of development best practice for ranking purposes, there are plenty of reasons why using W3C valid coding is a great idea, and why it can put you ahead of your competitors who are not doing it.

Before any further discussion takes place, it needs to be noted from a developer perspective:

  • W3C-standard validated code is not always good code.
  • Bad code is not always invalid code.
  • W3C validation should not be the be-all, end-all evaluation of a piece of coding work.
  • But, validation services like the W3C validator should be used for debugging reasons,
  • Using the W3C validator will help you evaluate your work more easily and avoid major issues as your site becomes larger and more complex after completion of the project.

But in the end, which is better, and why?

Picking a coding standard, being consistent with your coding best practices, and sticking with them is generally better than not.

When you pick a coding standard and stick with it, you introduce less complexity and less of a chance that things can go wrong after the final site launch.

While some see W3C’s code validator as an unnecessary evil, it does provide rhyme and reason to making sure that your code is valid.

For example, if your syntax is invalid in your header, or you don’t self-close tags properly, W3C’s code validator will reveal these mistakes.

If, during development, you transferred over an existing WordPress theme, from say XHML 1.0 to HTML 5 for server compatibility reasons, you may notice thousands of errors.

It means that you have incompatibility problems with the DOCTYPE in the theme and the language that is actually being used.

This happens frequently when someone copies and pastes old code into a new site implementation without regard to any coding rules whatsoever.

This can be disastrous to cross-platform compatibility.

Also, this simple check can help you reveal exactly what’s working (or not working) under the hood right now code-wise.

Where efficient coding best practices come into play, is doing things like inadvertently putting multiple closing DIV tags where they shouldn’t go, being careless about how you code the layout, etc.

All of these coding errors can be a huge detriment to the performance of your site, both from a user and search engine perspective.

Common Ways Too Many WordPress Plugins Can Harm Your Site

Using Too Many Plugins

Plugins can become major problems when their use is not kept in check.

Why is this? How can this be – aren’t plugins supposed to help?

In reality, if you don’t manage your plugins properly, you can run into major site performance issues down the line.

Here are some reasons why.

Extra HTTP Requests

All files that load on your site generate requests from the server or HTTP requests.

Every time someone requests your page, all of your page elements load (images, video, graphics, plugins, everything), and all of these elements require an HTTP request to be transferred.

The more HTTP requests you have, the more these extra plugins will slow down your site.

This can be mostly a matter of milliseconds, and for most websites does not cause a huge issue.

It can, however, be a major bottleneck if your site is a large one, and you have hundreds of plugins.

Keeping your plugin use in check is a great idea, to make sure that your plugins are not causing a major bottleneck and causing slow page speeds.

Increased Database Queries Due to Extra Plugins

WordPress uses SQL databases in order to process queries and maintain its infrastructure.

If your site is on WordPress, it’s important to know that every plugin you add will send out extra database queries.

These extra queries can add up, and cause bottleneck issues that will negatively affect your site’s page speed.

The more you load plugins up, the slower your site will get.

If you don’t manage the database queries well, you can run into serious issues with your website’s performance, and it will have nothing to do with how your images load.

It also depends on your host.

If you suffer from a large website with too many plugins and too little in the way of resources, now may be the time for an audit to see exactly what’s happening.

The Other Problem With Plugins: They Increase the Probability of Your Website Crashing

When the right plugins are used, you don’t have to worry (much) about keeping an eye on them.

You should, however, be mindful of when plugins are usually updated, and how they work with your WordPress implementation to make sure your website stays functional.

If you auto-update your plugins, you may have an issue one day where a plugin does not play nice with other plugins. This could cause your site to crash.

This is why it is so important to manage your WordPress plugins.

And make sure that you don’t exceed what your server is capable of.

This Is Why It’s Important to Tackle Technical SEO Before Link Building

Many technical SEO issues can rear their ugly head and affect your site’s SERP performance long before link building enters the equation.

That’s why it’s important to tackle technical SEO before you start link building.

Any technical SEO issues can cause significant drops in website performance long before link building ever becomes a factor.

Start with a thorough technical SEO audit to reveal and fix any on-site issues.

It will help identify any weaknesses in your site, and these changes will all work together with link building to create an even better online presence for you, and your users.

Any link building will be for naught if search engines (or your users) can’t accurately crawl, navigate, or otherwise use your site.

Summary

Timeframe: Month 1, 2, 3 and every quarter

Results Detected: 1-4 months after implementation

Tools needed:

  • Screaming Frog
  • DeepCrawl
  • Ahrefs (or Moz)
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics

Link building benefits of technical SEO:

  • Technical SEO will help you get the maximum performance out of your links.
  • Technical SEO like a clean site structure and understanding of PR flow is very key for internal link placement.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
In-post images/screenshots taken by author, July 2019



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101 Quick & Easy Tips to Skyrocket Your Blog Content

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Ron Lieback


I’m a firm believer in creating remarkable content that will serve a company’s long-term needs and garnering natural links through an authentic amplification process.

This process involves sharing the content across social channels, owned and other’s newsletters, and by reaching out to authors/journalists that can benefit by linking to those articles, to name a few.

The ultimate way to develop ongoing shareable content is through a blog.

A blogging campaign done correctly takes much effort, patience, discipline, and money.

Quality blogs are key for strong SEO – the more content, the more search engines, and users will understand that you’re an authoritative voice within your industry – if not the only authoritative voice.

Blogging is long-term thinking to build long-term success.

Be warned – this is not for what Simon Sinek calls the “finite” business thinker; rather it’s for the “infinite” business thinker who understands that quality takes time.

Remarkable blogging is not simple. The effort needed for quality – not quantity – content is tremendous.

The process involves an overall SEO and content strategy, along with disciplined writers who are skilled in both traditional and online writing techniques with subject expertise.

The following 101 tips were created to skyrocket your blogging efforts. These tips focus on SEO, craft, style, UX, amplification and productivity elements.

These were designed for quick digestion, and since I’m targeting an audience who understands SEO – or even just the basics of SEO – I’ll keep the deeper thinking to the internal links throughout.

SEO Blog Writing Tips

1. Blog Life Begins with Keyword Research

Unless you have an audience like Seth Godin, or already have a stupidly large and engaged audience, you can’t forget about keyword research.

Blogging allows you to target loads of keywords.

Learn keyword research, and use it for every blog. And target one or two main keywords for each article.

Protest against lack of keyword research!

2. Target Long-Tail Keywords

Blogs can gather their most energy through long-tail, low-volume keywords.

If your website sells aftermarket Ducati parts, the short-tail, high-volume keywords can be the focus of your main category pages.

But the long-tail can allow you to truly target long-tail keywords, such as “ducati 1198 s marchesini wheels.”

3. Remember Related Keywords

Don’t forget about “related” keywords. Over the past three years, my team has had the most success with SEMrush for easily finding related keywords.

Use the ones that pertain to the content of the article – and use them naturally.

Back to Ducati 1198 as a keyword; a list of related keywords that would benefit the article are “ducati 1198 hp” (hp means horsepower); “ducati 1198 evo,” and “ducati 1198 for sale.”

4. Use Target Keyword in Title

Use the main target keyword in the heading, as close to the beginning as possible.

Keep the headline 50-60 characters because search engines truncate after 60.

5. Create Awesome Titles

Put as much time into crafting your titles as you do the articles.

The best headlines:

  • Create curiosity.
  • Ask funny questions.
  • Use numbers.
  • Create a sense of urgency.
  • Show “How To” do something.

6. Strong Meta Description

If you don’t create a meta description, the search engines will auto-fill one. This is a loss of valuable real estate.

You can create a strong message here to support your awesome headline and enhance click-throughs to your story over the competitors.

Protest auto-generated meta descriptions – and keep the character count to 150-160 characters max!

7. Use Target Keyword in Meta Description

Use the same targeted keyword in your title in the meta description.

Again, try to get that targeted keyword as close to the beginning as possible.

Remember that though there is no ranking value for keywords in meta descriptions if someone queries your target keyword – or others that are in your meta description – that keyword will display bold, increasing the risk of a click.

Only use the target keyword once.

8. Use Keywords in Image Alt Text

It’s amazing how many clients I see that have zero alt text descriptions.

If they do they typically lack keywords.

Make sure to use keywords within your alt text – especially the target keyword of the blog.

9. Strong Header Tags

Forget the SEO benefits of header tags (also known as headline or H tags) when blogging, and just think of them as sub-topics that preview the upcoming with an exciting title.

Try writing them like individual taglines to each section.

Note that some header tags for articles like this will be used for bullet-point type items that do not need as much crafting.

This is also an ideal place to insert stronger related keywords.

kill jargon in blogging

10. Don’t Force Keywords – Use Them Naturally

Use the target keyword and related keywords naturally throughout the text.

Don’t mind things like antiquated talk of keyword density; use keywords naturally.

If you were overusing a keyword, the issue will quickly surface during editing – especially a speak-out-loud edit.

11. Internal Linking

Use internal links within your blog naturally and with the correct anchor text.

Internally link to deeper content like other blogs or white papers, and avoid linking to the homepage or contact us page.

Best practices for how many?

Again, insert them naturally.

For a 1,500-plus word blog, you can easily fit 15 or so. Just insert them naturally.

12. External Linking

Make sure to attribute any used sources within your blogs by externally linking to the respective web page.

Use strong anchor text, and use do-follow links.

Also, make sure the link opens in a new tab or window.

13. Use Bold & Italics to Send Strong Signals

Bold and italics not only attract the attention of the users, but it also sends signals to search engines that you are placing a priority on the word or phrases.

Use them when necessary – and naturally.

14. Use Bullet Points Whenever Possible

This opens the space between text, and is easier for readers to digest.

Plus, like bold and italic text, bullet points also send signals of prioritized sections to search engines.

15. Long Over Short

Based on statistics, longer blog posts are much better than shorter ones for SEO purposes.

Backlinko says the average word count of a Google Page 1 result is 1,890 words. But blogs of 500 words also rank high on Google.

First, consider the target audience.

Writing 2,500 words about the craft of blogging warrants more words, whereas a blog comparing three sets of guitar strings may take about 1,000, and a blog about a new dog food may take 500.

Don’t go crazy over length.

Write until you say what you want to say – and again, naturally.

Once writers get focused on word count the fluff begins.

Protest the puff!

16. Mobile-Friendly

Yes, this blog is about blogging tips. But I also need to address some of the basics of the website itself, the first being make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

A quick look at the list of 10 of my client’s analytics and mobile is on average 65% of their traffic.

If your blog isn’t optimized for mobile, you’ll miss out on some serious readership.

17. Strong Technical Platform

Second in addressing the platform is strong overall technical SEO.

Mobile-friendless would be part of this, but for blogging, mobile needed to stand alone.

Make sure technical bits are optimized, such as CCS, JavaScript, redirect chains and load speeds.

18. Optimize WordPress Categories/Tags

One more note if you’re using WordPress.

Make sure your categories aren’t sloppy or overlapping and don’t use crazy amounts of them.

The same should be said of tags.

And my team noindex most tags unless a few that are important and benefit search engine results.

19. If on WordPress, Use Yoast

Yoast is a must-have tool for WordPress users.

The free version allows you to customize your meta description and title tag, and also creates XML sitemaps and provides a score about the target keyword usage.

The paid version only gets better.

Craft/Style Blog Writing Tips

20. Research First

When many think about how long a blog takes to complete, they only think about the act of writing.

But an equal amount of energy – or more contingent on subject matter – should be placed into research.

Yes – reading and browsing valuable websites is part of the writing process.

Make it vital!

21. Competitive Research

Have awareness about what the competitors are doing, but don’t study them.

The more you study competitors, the more you’ll sound like them.

When it comes to keywords, though, competitive research is an absolute must.

It’s simple reverse engineering – find what keywords a blog is ranking well for, and create better content.

22. Don’t Plagiarize

Somehow, plagiarism continues. I’ve witnessed it happen with freelancers and in-house blog writers.

I work with dozens of freelancers and use Copyscape for the few pieces. I did encounter some copy/paste incidents in the past – one new writer literally cut up a few blogs and rearranged them.

This was for one of my clients – the copy all came from my client’s direct competitors, which would have caused some major harm.

Be smart. Use Copyscape or the paid version of Grammarly.

Protest plagiarism!

23. Create List of Optimized Titles

Once your keyword research is complete, brainstorm and create a list of proposed titles.

Walk away for a day and return to that list, weeding out anything that doesn’t add value, though most times the process involves some risk.

24. Create a ‘Loose’ Content Calendar

Create a content calendar. My team typically creates quarterly “loose” content calendars so there is some wiggle room for news items, new products or services, or the inevitable last-minute ideas that show up.

blog with the end in mind

25. Write with Ending in Mind

Though this may change, have a rough focus of what you want to see happen.

Literally imagine the action you want a reader to take, whether it’s a newsletter signup, buy a product, find out more about a service, or start a riot.

Literally imagine the ending – and keep it in mind as you’re writing.

26. Outline Blog

This organizes and speeds the process. My outline is simple:

  • Title
  • Intro
  • Sub-topics (header tags) organized
  • Concluding Thoughts

I then fill in each point with some stream of consciousness style (yeah, Kerouac was an idol in my 20s) notes.

If blogs are planned in advance (as they should), I continually add notes over a two-day period and revisit them with a fresh mind on the third day.

It’s amazing how smooth and effortless the process works.

27. Write Whatever Works First

Once the outline discussed above is complete, write whatever section you want first.

There should be no hierarchy or priority in draft mode; if you have the energy for an intro, write it.

Subtopics? Write them.

Concluding thoughts? Write them.

Whatever works.

All will come together smoothly and in a more organized fashion during the equally – sometimes more important – editing stage.

28. Page Setup

I learned this during an online workshop with Charles Euchner, author of another must-read for writers, “The Elements of Writing”.

Always set your document up in portrait mode.

This stretches out the work, and provides more space and longer lines. This all psychologically strengthens your energy for writing.

29. Line-by-Line First Drafts

I also learned this from Euchner, and it has become one of my favorite techniques for writing.

When in draft mode, write everything line-by-line.

Again this spaces the words and ideas, allowing you to think clearer.

Combine the paragraphs during a later draft.

30. Attention-Grabbing Intro

Just as important as the blog’s title and meta description is the intro – or what us traditionally trained journalist used to call a “lede”.

Entertain. Piss off. Create curiosity.

Do whatever it takes to engage the reader.

31. Stuck with Flow? Think About a Press Release Style

I’ve received and written press releases for businesses and clients for over two decades.

I use a simple format borrowed from the best-selling author and former COO at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Cameron Harold.

I rely on this format when I’m stuck creating a blog lacks flow or begs for restructuring:

  • Catchy headline.
  • Catchy lead paragraph.
  • Expose a problem.
  • Show how your product/service can solve that problem.
  • Provide hard data or facts.
  • Quote someone high within the company (CEO, CMO, Founder).
  • Quote a Customer or Influencer.
  • Provide a Call-to-Action.

Try it. The simple format works.

32. Establish Rhythm with Long & Short Sentences

When writing, mix long and short sentences to establish a rhythm.

Think of mixing the short and snappy active style of Hemingway with the long and sometimes passive style of Faulkner.

Blogs need rhythm. This shows that the author cares about not just pumping out content but also feeding the entertainment side of reading.

33. Let Punctuation Also Control Pace

Besides long and short sentences, punctuation also controls pace. And rather quickly.

Think about it; there are loads of ways to speed up or slow down a sentence. One way, without a doubt, is experimenting with various punctuation.

34. Short Paragraphs

Although a mix of long and short sentences can help with the rhythm, when blogging short paragraphs will always trump long ones.

This provides more “air” between the paragraphs and doesn’t put a strain on the reader’s eyes.

This “air” makes things easier to digest. And that’s how you can truly implant your ideas into the reader’s mind.

35. Use Simple Language

Unless you’re writing for a specific audience that uses highly technical jargon, keep it out of your blogging efforts.

For example, with Search Engine Journal’s audience, we can get heavy into SEO talk. But on my business’s blog, we are targeting those who basically know zilch about SEO or content strategies, so the jargon is minimum.

Same for some of my guest postings on Forbes or other non-endemic publications. I write for those who know nada about what we do as professionals.

Use layman terms, if you may.

use action verbs when blogging

36. Active Verbs

Harry punched Sally. The man walked the dog. The blogger wrote the blog.

Verbs should show action. Keep a majority of them active.

Use passive verbs for rhythm and to alter flow for rhythm.

37. Use Proper Grammar

Read “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.

Use Grammarly – the paid version is worth its editing weight in gold.

38. Watch Your ‘-ings’

Use them effectively. They weaken verbs and actions. But sometimes they are needed for slowing the flow or making a point.

39. Kill the Adjectives & Adverbs

Only use adjectives and adverbs when necessary. They add fluff and slow action.

40. Use Dialogue to Show Action

If you have a direct quote from someone or a publication/book, use dialogue to show action. The gnarlier the quote, the more it’ll move the reader excitedly through the story.

Bret Easton Ellis masters this. Read “Lunar Park” and you’ll understand. And quickly.

41. Consistent Voice

Every author has his or her unique voice. And if they don’t, with patience, discipline and a steady flow of daily writing, that voice will arrive.

Make sure that voice is the same across every blog.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve ghostwritten hundreds of articles for CEOs and entrepreneurs and developed a unique voice for each one.

Since departing ways with some, a few have used a few different ghostwriters, which is evident in the lack of consistent voice.

Work hard to develop your voice. And work harder to keep that voice consistent across every blog.

42. Consistent Themes

Themes reinforce the storytelling behind the blog. They provide entertainment for readers, allowing them to look forward to something more – even if on a subconscious level.

I love inserting themes within my work – even if subtle (protest something! Is part of this piece).

I also had fun with sexual desire and motorcycles while writing about a Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro I tested in Tuscany last year. Those references were not subtle.

43. Consistent Style

If you write mostly short and choppy sentences, continue that style.

If you write mostly long and chunky, continue that style.

You get the point.

44. Consistent Person & Tense

Keep the proper person (first, second or third) throughout the blog. And please remain coherent with your tense.

Protest inconsistency!

45. Journalism 5Ws, 1H

When writing a blog think like a journalist and always ask the five Ws and One H:

Make sure to answer each of these in every blog. Your readers will thank you for filling in all the gaps.

46. Inverted Pyramid Style

This is another tool from the world of journalism. When you write, layer the blog like an inverted pyramid with the most important information first, and all supporting details below. Not all blogs need this, but the majority should.

Basically, start with a catchy intro and immediately provide the reader what the article is about. And when used with proper keywords, you’ll be able to snatch up some featured snippets much easier.

47. Be Remarkable

Read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.

The text can be read in under two hours and will teach you everything about being remarkable.

Stand out. Be original. Don’t blog like your competitors.

48. Initial Edit: Cut Anything Useless

During your first edit, cut out anything that is useless. Adjectives, adverbs, crappy passages or stuff that appears out of place.

For my Search Engine Journal posts, I usually cut upwards of 1,000 words. If it isn’t needed, cut it.

Protest anything useless!

49. Second Edit: Read Passages Backwards

This is for grammar. Read the entire piece backward, starting from the last paragraph to the top.

You’ll quickly find errors because your mind won’t be in flow or organizational mode.

50. Speak Out Loud – Edit & Rewrite

The most important part of writing strong blog content is editing. Here you start from top to bottom and strengthen anything that feels or sounds weak.

When you read out loud, awkward passages will jump out. This is when you rearrange things and read for flow.

Also, a peer review or another editor is a must here. And if your submitting to other publications remember that you’re only as strong as your editor.

51. Walk Away & Edit Again

The final edit. Walk away from it all, and your subconscious will go to work. Complete a final edit on the next day. Remember here though that you can’t chase absolute perfection.

Perfectionism is just another form of procrastination. Get your blog out and let the readers decide its merit. And if they find mistakes live up to them; we’re human and fallible. Everyone makes mistakes.

UX Blog Writing Tips

52. Know the Audience

Never start writing until you know the intended audience. Niche publications like Search Engine Journal make this easy.

But when blogging for businesses with multiple products or services, make sure you have the exact audience in mind for the purpose of each blog.

53. Answer Questions

Once you know who your audience is, find out what questions they are asking. Then answer those questions. One of my favorite text on this is They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. Read it.

Learn to listen to your audience’s questions. Then answer them through consistent and frequent blogging. Check social media, Quora, Reddit or simply ask your readers.

And don’t forget the “People also ask” at the bottom of Google search results. Let the algorithms do the work for you.

54. Think 80/20

Blog with an 80/20 mindset. Find the 20 percent of blogs that deliver 80 percent of outcome (typically the call to action or brand building). Don’t waste time and quickly pivot if the roles reverse.

Sometimes the simplest blogs that take 20-percent effort provide 80-percent of the outcome wanted – such as a direct sale or newsletter signup.

make sure your blog uses storytelling

55. Be a Storyteller

Always tell a story. Humans thrive on storytelling – we have for millions of years. Make sure each and every blog has a story and also supports your brand’s overall story.

56. Appeal to All Five Senses

Don’t just write for visual appeal. Write to appeal to all senses. Show what wine or success tastes like; show how loud a noise is; show how something feels; show how terrible something smells.

57. Focus on One CTA

You may have multiple CTAs for your blog’s purpose, but only include one type in each blog. If you have a newsletter signup, don’t also offer a 50-percent discount. And vice versa.

58. Attribute True Leaders within the Industry

If you’re blogging about Ducati, quote the CEO or one of the top designers. Doing a piece on Frederick Chopin? Quote his early biographer Frederick Niecks.

59. Consistent Posting

Post the same time on the same day. Loyal fans and search engines love this.

60. Appeal with Images

This goes without saying. And if you can create original images or photos, do so; it’ll enhance your blog tremendously.

61. Appeal with Videos

This also goes without saying. Remember, though, videos are expensive. Spend your money wisely (follow the 80/20 rule!).

62. Appeal with Infographics

Use them wherever possible – especially if you’re providing tips or instructions on something. Hubspot said people following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations. That’s serious engagement for adding an infographic. These also help with viral appeal in articles.

63. Appeal with Stand-Out Quotes

WordPress makes this easy. If the CMS doesn’t have this function, place a stand-out quote – one that builds on the strength of the article from a reputable source – place the quote alone in bold to make it stand out.

64. A/B Test Titles

Test a few different headlines. Sometimes just a variation on word placement can increase the openings. SEJ does this well.

65. Allow Comments

I’m a fan of Facebook comments. It’s more authentic because there are no aliases. Regardless, allowing comments presents a sense of community.

66. Engage with Comments Daily

Don’t forget to answer the comments on your blog weekly. Again – this will strengthen the community.

Amplify Blogs for Natural Link Building

67. Own Domain

First, make sure you own the content. Remember, if you create content on Medium or LinkedIn you don’t own it.

Make sure you own it. Not on wordpress.com (mysite.wordpress.com), but mysite.com found at WordPress.org. WordPress websites are cheap. It’s worth it.

68. Newsletter

Make sure the blogs are exposed in the business – or personal – newsletter.

Many bloggers miss out on mass appeal because they don’t exploit their blogs enough through something as simple as a newsletter.

An owned newsletter list is an interested audience; continually feed them so you stay, as John Hall would say, “Top of Mind.”

69. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging has many underlying benefits to your blog platform.

Most publications won’t allow you to simply discuss or link to an exact personal blog, but a link to your blog or website’s homepage in your bio is typical. Only guest post for valuable blogs.

Time is limited (remember that 80/20 mindset!).

70. Facebook

Don’t just share the blog link; write a little message or pull a strong quote from the blog.

For my agency’s clients, I recommend using the meta description since the work was already completed.

Add proper hashtags, and tag any professional or business mentioned in the blog.

use social media to exploit your blog

71. Twitter

This goes without saying. Create something snappy that drives curiosity in those 280 characters.

And just like Facebook, make sure you use proper hashtags and tag any respective professionals or companies mentioned within your blogs – this will help with shares.

72. Instagram

Though Instagram is photo-centric, you can still get some traction for your blog by building your branding via Insta.

The quickest way for bloggers is to post a pic from the blog, and link to it from your bio page. And as always, tag anyone mentioned, and also use proper hashtags.

73. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great platform to share blogs – just like you would on Facebook, make sure to tag those involved and use proper hashtags. You can also write original content for your LinkedIn pages.

I’d rather own the content on my own blog, so I stray from this. But I do curate many blogs on LinkedIn channels. Just write a unique summary, provide a strong quote from the article, and then add the respective link.

74. Medium

For serious SEOs, simply copy/pasting a blog on Medium is a no-no. There are some ways, such as making sure your blog’s URL is published before sharing the same blog on Medium.

But if you’re into brand-building over SEO (think of personal blogs over a business blog), sharing can help achieve more eyes, and thus more shares.

Or create original content for Medium and link back to one of your blogs as a reference.

75. Reddit

Find a subreddit based around your industry or subject, and engage with the community.

Don’t just force links to your blogs – wait to build some respect from the other readers, then start sharing your work.

76. Quora

Same deal with Reddit. Become respected, then share your valuable blog work.

77. PR Efforts

Find reputable publications and writers. Reach out to them in an authentic manner to offer any assistance they need for resources.

Do your research and don’t spam. Know the names and direct emails, and if you have created a relationship with an acquaintance of that person, let them know.

78. HARO

No – not the bicycles. HARO stands for “Help A Reporter Out”.

I’ve used this for the past decade, first as a publication representative asking others for help with an article, then as a source for other reporters needing valuable information.

79. Ask for Links in other Articles

Find an article that can benefit from your tip? Pitch the publication, writer, editor or web developer.

Keep it short and simple, and point them to the link you want to use. Let them decide.

Don’t follow up and be annoying. Be authentic.

80. Ask Friends/Family/Employees to Share Via Social

Sometimes the simplest engagement methods go by the proverbial wayside. Ask your friends, family, business associates and employees to share your blogs.

Productivity & Energy Blog Writing Tips

81. Write Daily and Consistently

The prolific writer Malcolm Gladwell explains his 10,000-Hour Rule in Outliers that argues becoming truly proficient takes 10,000 hours of doing something – which equates to about 20 hours a week for 10 years.

Writing every day for a consistent amount of time will naturally allow you to become a more proficient blogger.

82. Attempt to Master

When I teach writing, I tell everyone to continually attempt to master writing. I believe mastery in blog writing – or any type of writing – is impossible.

And if you get close, that means you’re becoming complacent and need to push yourself more. Complacency is the ultimate killer for any type of creative work – especially writing.

83. Don’t Wait for Inspiration

This is just another form of procrastination. Get blogging on a schedule during your most creative moments with your most creative spend that I wrote about here.

Yes – the work is hard. But the tougher the work, the better the final product.

84. Write Out of Comfort Zone

The more you challenge yourself, the more your brain will grow.

I take on unique ghostwriting assignments constantly, and a few times a month I’ll kick in on the blogging efforts for some of my agency’s clients that sometimes I know zero about and need to do loads of research.

Others do this by writing fiction. Take warning – if you’re taking on something to challenge your brain with your client or someone else’s client work, make sure to have a great editor on hand.

85. Kill Notifications

While blog writing, turn off all notifications on your phone and computer. I keep my Apple Mail Client shut down because I don’t like seeing the number of emails there.

This keeps you, as Chris Bailey would say, “hyperfocused,” and you’ll produce much more quality work in less time.

86. Enforce Downtime

As part of my productivity training (my agent is shopping my initial book about that very subject now!), I have a strict regime of mandatory downtime. This means truly getting away from anything work-related, from daily periods to a weekly night period to a full day.

This action keeps the mind fresh, particularly for blog writers. Find your threshold of creativity daily, and get away from it all when words become hard to write or sloppy.

I typically hike, ride a motorcycle, or read a fiction book – these all work for me because it keeps me off the screen. Sometimes these breaks are 15 minutes, other times two hours; it all depends on what I’m writing.

What also works for me to keep the mind fresh for writing all week is getting away from it all every Wednesday evening – typically from 5 p.m. until I complete my “Miracle Morning” (thanks Hal Elrod!) in the a.m.

I don’t open emails or think about writing. And one day on the weekend for an entire day I do the same.

87. Notebook or App for Ideas

Always have the means to write down ideas for blog subjects or anything else you need to remember for your blog.

I personally keep a Moleskin with me at all times (the cheap 3-pack ones). I have thousands of notes in them, from blog titles to blog strategies to complete hand-written outlines of blogs – including a rough outline of this very blog.

Others use apps as I do when I don’t have tablets on hand. Ideas arrive at weird times, especially during downtime.

How many awesome ideas did you get when in the shower, working out, or walking the dog? Have the means to write those ideas down.

88. Find Most Creative Periods

Everyone’s most creative periods throughout the day arrive at drastically different times. This can be attributed to our circadian rhythm and overall lifestyle, but I won’t get too scientific here.

This is one reason I’m against 9-5 working hours. Some people don’t kick into full creative modes when serious work happens at most places, which is typically after 10 or noon.

And it seems that many of the best bloggers I know work mid-afternoons or evenings.

Find what works for you, and do your most creative blogging within that period… at the same time every day.

writing to various music can get the words flowing

89. Choose Music for Writing

I write with music about 90% of the time. And the genres or bands vary depending on what I’m writing.

If I’m outlining a Forbes blog, it may be Chopin.

If I’m writing a blog for my business, it’s typically John Coltrane or Wes Montgomery.

Motorcycle articles – Black Sabbath or Dimmu Borgir.

As I’m writing this very sentence Hand of Doom is on by Black Sabbath. The outline was created with Tool in the background, and the first draft Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland.

Edits were completed with Lycia and Howard Shore’s Two Concerti masterpiece.

90. Continued Education

Read books on writing. Take seminars. Take online SEO classes.

Do whatever it takes and NEVER stop learning.

Again, as I stated in point 82 above, complacency is the ultimate killer of creativity. It also will crush your mind from growing.

Protest any form of becoming stale in new learning!

91. You are What You Read

Reading not only skills you about a subject matter, but also for future writing.

When you read you always take a bit of that author with you into your next writing, whether a minute sentence structure or poetic voice.

You are what you read – so choose your books wisely.

Bonus point: if you truly love a piece of writing or an author, read passages aloud and notice the rhythm or use of language.

With enough time that writer’s style will reflect on your writing.

92. Rewrite Your Favorite Chapters

Growing up with a focus on music, writing and the sub-status quo lifestyle, I obviously read some writers that went against the status quo such as Jack Kerouac and Brett East Ellis. But one that truly helped with my writing career was Hunter S. Thompson.

Not so much for his “Gonzo” lifestyle (though it was fun in my 20s), but his clean journalistic style. Anyone can read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in one sitting.

And it’s not so much the non-stop funny content, but rather the short paragraphs and genius use of dialogue to show action (revisit point 40 above).

HST taught me more, though. When he was learning to write he emulated F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (who didn’t!), and just as Tony Robbins tells people to emulate the best to shortcut their performance, so did Hunter with his word training.

He rewrote The Great Gatsby and Farewell to Arms word-for-word to strengthen his skill.

And it worked; I argue he’d be just as popular as a writer without the Gonzo lifestyle. And it was all due to his style – a style he developed by literally emulating other greats by typing out their exact words.

93. Read William Zinsser’s ‘On Writing Well’

This is by far the best book on writing. The most important takeaways are the need for constant edits and decluttering your writing from all nonsense and jargon.

In a world where online readers have the smallest attention spans ever, Zinsser’s text is needed more than ever.

Be warned (or smile if you’re getting away from it all!) – the word SEO is not mentioned anywhere.

94. Read ‘On Writing Well’ Again

Do it yearly. Make notes. Make new notes. Leave it in the bathroom. Read it at least once a year. You’re blogging audience will thank you.

95. Embrace All Elements of the Industry

Whatever industry you blog about, learn and participate as much as possible within everything involved in that industry.

If you write about motorcycles, ride every type. Learn the history of each brand. Understand the main bloggers. Get into the business and creative side of it.

The more you embrace your industry, the better your blogging efforts.

96. Ask for Criticism

Find someone you trust – friend, wife, associate, etc. – and ask them for honest criticism. Sometimes if people are too close they’ll outright lie.

Ask them to be honest, and ask for as much trusted criticism as possible. And learn from it.

97. Kill the Ego

Keep any type of ego out of your blogging efforts. A blog thick with ego kills the message. Yes, people do care if you sold the best-selling book on SEO or investing or whatever.

Mention it subtly to create credibility, but don’t highlight it. And never, ever repeat such ego-satisfying words.

Protest the ego-centric blogger!

98. Workout

This should go without saying in the 21st Century. The healthier the body, the healthier the mind – and vice versa.

Get as much exercise as possible – even walking 1000 steps a day over 500 can make a drastic difference, as is diet and calmness around booze (coming from a man who LOVES wine).

use a stand-up desk as a writing hack for energy

99. Standing Desk

Before a standing desk came into my life, I blamed my shoulder and backaches on the non-stop motorcycle riding on road-racing circuits, off-road tracks, and twisty roads from around the world.

But in 2016, wifey bought me one of those portable thingies for my laptop. Soon I found myself using it daily at the desk, and I felt healthier due to a better posture that erased many aches.

The portable was a PITA, so I invested in a stand-up desk about a year ago.

Best. Investment. Ever.

My “hyperfocus” periods have grown tremendously. Plus, Hemingway wrote while standing. If it’s good enough for Papa, it’s obviously good enough for us bloggers.

100. Grounding

Shortly after I discovered the standing desk, I discovered grounding.

First I was experimenting with it to battle jet lag after landing in Europe to test motorcycles. The first thing I’d do is get to the hotel and walk around barefoot.

The results were unbelievable for energy, so I tried a grounding mat under my desk. The energy levels grew, as did my focus.

I have worked barefoot on a grounding mat since. Everyday. All working hours.

101. Biohacking

Since launching ContentMender in early 2017, I’ve obsessed over discovery any hack that helped me produce more energy and focus.

Besides my agency, I also was running the day-to-day operations of a successful motorcycle website (writing and SEO) and also outlining and creating the proposal for my first book, “365 to Vision: Time Management Inverted”, and dealing with the norms of everyday life, including a toddler.

Biohacking became essential, and part of my ongoing studies.

The above grounding mat and standing desk are just a few elements of my biohacking, along with about 45 supplements daily, ice-cold showers, Bulletproof Coffee, infrared saunas, and Circadian Optics lighting, among other things.

Biohacking has helped me produce a consistent flow of content across various industries. And some days I write for 10-12 hours without a headache or anger as my mind remains completely focused.

I blame this partially on biohacking, which can help strengthen the energy for any type of blogger.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image of author Ron Lieback shot by Kevin Wing at Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 Circuit



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18 Popular Link Building Tactics You Should Actually Avoid

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Roger Montti


Google has been whittling away the value of links since the beginning of the search engine.

The reason Google chooses to ignore certain kinds of links is that those links do not represent a true recommendation.

As far back as 2005, I was told by a Googler at a conference Q&A that Google depreciated links from pages that are irrelevant, like from a footer “powered by” link.

That’s an example of Google removing irrelevant links from what they count as a link signal for ranking purposes.

A true link signal is when a publisher links to a webpage because it is relevant to the topic and therefore useful. What all of the following tactics have in common is that they do not result in a true link signal.

1. Historical Data Link Trap

This is from a patent about historical data that covers inbound links, outbound links, how fast links are acquired, how often content is updated and so on.

One of the factors that are relevant to link building has to do with adding links to a page without the page actually being updated.

Google is on record stating that just because something is in a patent or a research paper doesn’t mean it’s in use.

Additionally, the older the patent the higher the possibility that another algorithm was developed that made it obsolete.

That said, we don’t know whether something like this is in use. It’s something to take note of.

This patent is called, Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data.

Google has snapshots of the web, including snapshots of the state of the linking patterns.

The most common and easily detectable mistake is adding a link to an existing webpage.

This patent dates from 2003. Matt Cutts, then head of Google’s spam fighting department, is listed in the patent as one of the authors. That’s a good sign that this patent has a strong anti-spam component.

The Algorithm That Tracks Link Additions & Removals

Among the various things this patent covered, one of them was tracking changes of links on a webpage:

  • How many links are added.
  • How often links are added.
  • How often links are removed.

This patent covers a wide variety of changes to links on a page and links to a webpage.

Here’s a sample of the things this patent covers.

The section below discusses identifying how new links that are associated with a document are and assigning scores (weights) relative to the newness of those links and then using those scores to rank a webpage.

26. …assigning weights to the links based on the determined measure of freshness, and scoring the document based, at least in part, on the weights assigned to the links associated with the document.

27. The method of claim 26, wherein the measure of freshness of a link associated with the document is based on at least one of a date of appearance of the link, a date of a change to the link, a date of appearance of anchor text associated with the link, a date of a change to anchor text associated with the link, a date of appearance of a linking document containing the link, or a date of a change to a linking document containing the link.

Now, this section of the same patent discusses issuing penalties.

First, it discusses determining time based link information (claim 54) and in claims 55 and 56, it discusses penalizing rankings based on time related link patterns.

54. A method comprising:

…determining longevity of the linkage data;

deriving an indication of content update for at least one …or more linking documents providing the linkage data; and
adjusting the ranking of the linked document based on the longevity of the linkage data and the indication of content update for the linking document.

The next section (claims 55 & 56) are sub-sections to claim 54 above. The following part describes how Google can alter ranking scores with time based link information:

55. The method of claim 54, wherein the adjusting the ranking includes penalizing the ranking if the longevity indicates a short life for the linkage data and boosting the ranking if the longevity indicates a long life for the linkage data.

56. The method of claim 55, wherein …adjusting the ranking further includes penalizing the ranking if at least a portion of content from the linking document is considered stale over a period of time and boosting the ranking if the portion of content from the linking document is considered updated over the period of time.

What that section appears to cover is obtaining links from content that hasn’t been otherwise updated.

Link selling was a multi-million dollar business in those years. Prior to Penguin, around 2007-2009, Google was able to identify which links were paid and began devaluing them.

I know this because an executive from a link selling business told me that many of the links they sold were increasingly no longer working.

There were multiple theories of how Google was catching links added to pages that weren’t otherwise updated. In retrospect, something like the Historical Data Patent could be used to easily spot paid links in addition to other paid link signals.

The importance of the patent I cited is that Google monitoring historical link information is possible. There is a solid basis for the possibility.

The patent shows that it’s possible that Google could detect paid links by monitoring the inbound/outbound link changes within a domain over time.

Webpages change all the time. But there are some rates of changes that don’t happen on normal sites. So a site that’s selling links from within existing webpages could have the power of those links penalized.

Adding links to previously published articles in an attempt to influence Google may backfire. A person reported to me in early 2019 that he purchased links from an existing page and his page lost rankings within two weeks.

Was it the fact that the page was an old existing page that was not updated? Or was it something else?

It’s hard to say. I’m just putting this information out there for your consideration.

2. EDU Discount Link Building

The offer a discount link building technique can result in a penalty. Don’t do it.

This is an example of a sketchy link building tactic. Offering something in return for a link is a paid link. Overstock.com was reported to be penalized by Google in 2011 for offering discounts to university students in exchange for links.

EDU Discount Link Building

Overstock.com apparently was offering university discounts in exchange for links to their product pages. A university published a PDF document with discounts that were intended for students.

Unfortunately for Overstock.com, the document apparently contained the text of the outreach with instructions for how to link to the Overstock.com product pages. The PDF doesn’t exist anymore but Archive.org has a snapshot of it here.

Beware, some SEOs are still recommending discount link building. As you can see from the link above, this tactic violates Google’s guidelines and if that matters to you then don’t do it.

3. Free Products Link Building

This is another variation of a paid link. The interesting thing about this tactic is that it can actually be illegal because it may violate FTC rules against publishing reviews that have been paid for with products, samples or other compensation.

The official guidelines are here: FTC – Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

An easy to read FAQ about endorsements is here: FTC – Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking

4. Content Marketing Links

This is not about guest posting. This is about a different form of content marketing.

Content marketing is a lot of things. A valid version focuses on publishing articles on one’s own site to establish the site as a thought leader and create a useful resource that generates goodwill and links.

Another version of content marketing is hiring a writer to publish an article on a third party website, with a link to the client from within the article.

These kinds of article links do not typically contain a disclosure that a payment was made to the writer for the article and the link. This is advertising.

When money or other consideration is exchanged for a link, that is considered an advertisement done for promotional purposes.

This may violate the FTC Guidelines cited above. A relevant section is here:

“Your spokesperson should disclose her connection when promoting your products outside of traditional advertising media (in other words, on programming that consumers won’t recognize as paid advertising). The same guidance also would apply to comments by the expert in her blog or on her website.”

The following FTC guideline states that if the advertisement cannot be disclosed (as in a hidden arrangement), then that advertisement should not exist.

“If a disclosure is necessary to prevent an advertisement from being deceptive, unfair, or otherwise violative of a Commission rule, and it is not possible to make the disclosure clearly and conspicuously, then that ad should not be disseminated. This means that if a particular platform does not provide an opportunity to make clear and conspicuous disclosures, then that platform should not be used to disseminate advertisements that require disclosures”

5. Viral Link Campaigns

How Viral Link Campaigns Can Be Useful

Viral link campaigns can be useful. A viral link campaign can be useful if it is highly targeted to the demographic of people who would become purchasers and results in links from relevant webpages.

In my opinion, some of the value in viral link campaigns lie less in link creation and can be in awareness building. Building awareness for a company has value.

How Viral Link Campaigns Fail

The more off-topic a viral link campaign is, the less likely it will result in relevant links. In that scenario, there is no value for ranking or awareness building.

A viral link campaign is useless if the reason people are linking has nothing to do with your core business model or your keyword phrases.

Viral contests and other forms of viral stunts for links tend to result in irrelevant inbound links. Google discounts irrelevant links.

The page and/or the immediate context of the link must have a meaningful relevance to the site being linked to. If the relevance of the link is for the topic of the viral campaign, then those links may help rank that site for that topic.

A friend shared with me the anecdote of a company that ran a campaign for their real estate company. The campaign was a contest to about the world’s worst real estate agent portrait photograph. For years afterward, the real estate site failed to rank for meaningful phrases but it did receive a lot of traffic for phrases like world’s worst real estate agent.

Now imagine bloggers and news organizations linking to a toy retailer website because the toy retailer created the world’s biggest teddy bear. All the links have the context of the World’s Biggest Teddy Bear. The landing page they’re linking to is the viral link page about the world’s biggest teddy bear.

That site may rank for the world’s biggest teddy bear. But those thousands of links will not help that site rank for their important search queries because none of those links come from the context of a specific toy nor do they link to a specific toy.

So how can that site rank for yo-yos when all their links are about the world’s biggest teddy bear?

It won’t. They never do.

I gave a presentation at an Internet marketing conference several years ago and one of the audience members was confused at why his wildly successful viral link campaign failed to increase rankings and sales. The above description is why irrelevant viral link campaigns fail in terms of creating a lift in rankings and sales.

Don’t overlook the value of building awareness with a viral link campaign. Viral linking as a strategy can be useful. Just don’t expect an off-topic viral campaign to result in a change in rankings.

Redirect Viral Links Page to Another Page

While we’re on the topic of viral links, this is a strategy that no longer works. This strategy dates back to the days when Digg was popular. The scheme was to build a ton of viral (irrelevant) links to a viral link page. Then months later take the page down and do a permanent 301 redirect to the home page or to a product page.

This no longer works and hasn’t worked for many years. Google will not assign PageRank or relevancy signals through a redirect (or canonical) if there isn’t a one to one relevance between the two pages.

6. Sponsor Links

In my opinion, it is very unlikely that a philanthropic event will generate links from a meaningful context. This is similar to a viral link campaign. The best links are from a context that’s related to your topic to a page on your site that is about that topic.

This kind of link is convenient and expedient. That’s why some SEOs recommend them. They’re easier to acquire, which is good for the link builder and not so good for the client.

It’s not really the kind of link that will move your rankings. I say this from personal experience. I and others experimented with these around 14 years ago. This is nothing new. They simply do not move the dial on rankings.

And if that’s not good enough for you, here’s what Google’s John Mueller said about charity sponsorship links in a Webmaster Hangout:

“…if with your website you’re sponsoring… different clubs and sites where it looks like the primary intent is to get a link there, then that’s something the web spam team might take action on.

…So I’d try to take a look at the bigger picture there and think uwhether or not this is really something that you’re doing systematically; like going out and sponsoring other sites or products with the intent of getting a link or if this is something that’s essentially just a natural part of the web.”

7. Scholarship Links

PageRank and link ranking algorithms look at how the web interconnects.

Google builds a map of the Internet then likely creates what’s called a Reduced Link Graph, consisting of mostly non-spam links and pages.

Then as part of the ranking analysis, it organizes the web into neighborhoods by topic.

Scholarship links are great if your goal is to rank for [keyword phrase] + scholarship. The problem with these kinds of links is that they have an irrelevant context.

Most sites that do scholarship link building aren’t about scholarships. They’re about things like personal injury lawyers.

Scholarship Links

There is no relevance between a link from a school to a personal injury lawyer for the purpose of ranking for personal injury lawyer search phrases.

The link is relevant for things like “personal injury attorneys scholarship.” Google will rank these kinds of pages for those scholarship search phrases and that is the extent of the value.

This is useless for business owners because the links aren’t about their business, they’re about scholarships.

If a personal injury lawyer attained links that are relevant for the search phrase, pizza restaurants, they will rank for personal injury pizza restaurant.

But a pizza restaurant link is not desirable for a personal injury lawyer website. The same kind of relevance problem applies to scholarship links.

An SEO may say that a link from a .edu will help increase the domain authority of a page, that it will increase “trust” and that Dot Edu links are special.

That’s wrong in three different ways.

I think we’re done with scholarship links.

Now let’s move on to an even more useless link building trick.

8. Badges for Links Trick

One of the oldest and out of date link building tricks around is the Badges link building strategy. The Badges for links strategy is a variation of the Awards strategy as well as the Widgets strategy.

The idea is to create a fake award then award to websites that will display your image badge that proclaims them a winner. The trick is to give them the badge and the code which contains a sneaky link back to your website.

Run as fast as you can from any SEO who tells you the Badges trick is a useful link building tactic. This link building strategy is so stale that if you breathe on it it’ll crumble and blow away.

The badges link building technique is similar to the widgets technique, which Google explicitly called out in 2016.

It’s similar because in both cases the link builder is giving something of value (an award, a visitor counter) and forcing the link back to the original website.

The tactic relies on people linking to your site for reasons other than your content. Those kinds of links have been devalued since at least 2004 when Google stopped passing PageRank from pages that are irrelevant to the page they’re linking to.

The idea is to create an awards page and have the badge link to that awards page. The idea is that the link will pass PageRank since the context of the link is similar to the context of the webpage.

One of the failures of the badge for links strategy is that unless your site is about awards, the link is useless. All it’s going to do is help your page rank for “Keywords + Awards). How does that help you? It doesn’t.

9. Blog Comments

Blog commenting is such a bad link building tactic that the search engines created a link attribute called “nofollow” in 2005. Should anyone really consider a tactic that was already burned in 2005?

Even though the “nofollow” attribute is now a hint, that’s no excuse to start comment spamming like it’s 2004.

Does anyone believe Google would make the nofollow into a hint without being able to handle a 2004 link building tactic?

10. Buying Websites

Buying a website is an edgy tactic. Redirecting the domain in order to parasite the link signals doesn’t work anymore. The reason is that Google will not pass link signals from one page to another unless the pages are a close match.

Creating a separate website only doubles your work because now you’re link building and content writing for two websites.

11. Charity Link Building

This is a variation of the sponsorship link building tactic. The problem with this tactic is that the links are irrelevant.

An SEO will try to convince you that domain authority, trust, and Dot EDU magic will help a site rank better. But those excuses have already been documented as untrue.

12. Content Syndication

This is a variation of guest posting, only worse. Content syndication is creating content and letting others publish it in exchange for a link.

Former Google engineer Matt Cutts warned the SEO community in his famous post about guest blogging called, The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.

13. Contests for Links

This is a variation of viral link building. It creates a situation where other websites are linking to a site for reasons that have nothing to do with the relevant topic. Off-topic links are never good.

14. Widget Links

Widget links are one of the oldest forms of scaled link building.

Many years ago in the early 2000s, the top ranked site for Mesothelioma was a lawyer site that distributed visitor counters for universities to use at the bottom of their webpage.

Placing the page counter code resulted in a link to the lawyer site. It worked for years and then it stopped working.

When WordPress gained popularity many people started using other forms of useful widgets for people to add to their sites.

Plugins for things like a weather display, news, RSS feeds and other useful functions were created so that they resulted in a link back to someone’s site.

Google formally published a blog post to warn against this technique.

15. Press Release Link Building

Press releases are useful for announcing important news about a business. The value is in a news organization publishing a news story based on the press release.

The value is not in the links embedded in the press release. Sites that syndicate press releases tend to be of low quality.

Google may also choose to ignore the links in duplicate content because it’s painfully obvious that links in duplicate content do not represent the quality of being a true link signal.

Google’s John Mueller is on record as stating that press release links are something Google tries to ignore.

So if common sense and logic aren’t enough to convince you that is a low-quality tactic, then perhaps a Googler’s statement will.

16. Profile Link Building

As the moderator of the Link Building Forum at WebmasterWorld and being friends with many forum owners, I can tell you right now that online community administrators know about link builders who sign up to a forum in order to drop a link from their profile.

Just don’t. It’s a low-quality link with zero context and zero relevance. It’s not a true link.

A forum profile link is about as useless and spammy as a link can get. There is ZERO context for a ranking signal to a webpage. It’s silly to consider such a link as a link building tactic.

In my opinion, anyone who recommends this tactic has a credibility problem.

17. Forum Spamming

Forum administrators and moderators are on the lookout for link builders who post a couple useless “me too!” posts and then answer a question with a link to another site saying, “And there’s more information at this site!”

Sorry, but most forum admins and mods consider that spam. The mods will trip over each other to delete those kinds of posts.

If you want to publicize your business in a way that puts it in a bad light and generates buckets of ill will, have at it.

18. WordPress Theme Link Building

“Powered by” links in the footer stopped working over fifteen years ago. Just stop.

Takeaway

Being fashionable is about going along with current trends. Like fashion, link building tactics have many trends, sometimes driven by how easy they are.

When it comes to link building, it’s good to understand the history behind certain tactics. It’s also useful to understand how search engines use links.

Knowledge will help keep you from making avoidable mistakes.

Don’t let anyone tell you that knowing about patents or research is useless. Knowledge is useful. Understanding how search engines treat links can save you from needlessly tanking a website’s rankings.

There are so many ways that a link building strategy can go wrong. These are, in my opinion, a few of the link building strategies that are a waste of time and money.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
Screenshots taken by author, November 2019



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6 Awesome Tools You Need for Your Content Curation Strategy

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Marcus Ho


About a decade ago, the concept of content marketing was considered to be a novelty in the marketing community.

However, almost every marketer has now woken up to the fact that there’s no winning without it.

96% of the most successful content marketers have realized that providing valuable information to their audience makes their organization gain credibility as a trusted resource.

Having a well-thought-out content marketing strategy is the need of the hour for every business.

But it isn’t easy to keep churning out fresh, relevant, and informative content on a regular basis.

This is where content curation comes in.

It’s a great way to fill the void and keep your audience engaged while you focus on creating and promoting original content. Here are six awesome tools to help you with content curation.

Pinterest is a visual content discovery and social media platform.

Users can use it to search and find content related to a variety of niches such as marketing, lifestyle, health, fashion, food, travel, and many more.

Once found, users pin such content to their boards (collections of content related to a particular theme) which can be private, public, or shared.

Pinterest

As a part of your content curation strategy, you can create a free Pinterest account and start pinning relevant content (that your target audience is likely to be interested in) to your own boards.

You can then share such content to attract and engage your audience.

Pinterest also allows you to follow other boards that can help you with ideas and inspiration from businesses that have similar target audiences as yours.

Scoop.it helps you discover the most relevant content based on topics you specify and share them directly on your social networks.

It also recommends complementary topics and other relevant users to follow for ideas.

6 Awesome Tools You Need for Your Content Curation Strategy

With its free version, you can create one topic page with 50 scoops per page.

Their paid plans start at $14.99 per month and allow you to:

  • Create more topic pages with more scoops.
  • Share scoops and direct links to social media.
  • Embed topic pages on your WordPress website.
  • Send them as email newsletters.

Feedly is a great content curation tool that allows you to access and read through your favorite websites, blogs, news sites, YouTube channels, RSS feeds, save the content for later, or share them on your social networks.

All you need to do is search for sites you want to follow and add them to your personal Feedly.

You can then browse these feeds from a single platform.

6 Awesome Tools You Need for Your Content Curation Strategy

With its free version, you can create three feeds, three boards, and have 100 sources.

Its paid versions allow you to use more advanced features such as:

  • Collating content from an unlimited number of sources.
  • Using and sharing boards.
  • Integrating with social media management tools like Buffer and Hootsuite.

Curata’s intelligent software scours the web and uses your keywords, shared content, bookmarked content, authors, or news sources to collate highly relevant content for you from various blogs, websites, and social media platforms.

It uses machine learning to refine its results over time based on the content you share.

Curata

You can use its browser plugin to add content to your curated lists while browsing the web.

It also allows you to customize your messages and imagery when you share curated content across your social networks.

If you’re just getting started with content curation, Pocket is a handy little tool to have in your arsenal. It comes with a plugin that you need to install.

Whenever you come across an interesting piece of content on the web, all you need to do is to hit that button and save that content for later.

You can use tags to group your content under specific topics and you can even access this content offline.

Pocket

You can use its basic features for free.

You can also upgrade to its premium version for $4.99 per month which gives you access to features such as advanced search and a permanent backup of everything you’ve saved.

Listly is yet another super useful content curation tool you need to know of.

This easy-to-use tool is available both as a web application as well as an iOS app.

It allows you to build well-organized and curated lists keeping your target audience in mind.

Listly

What’s unique about this Listly is that it allows you to involve your audience in the process of content curation.

Your audience can vote up or down on individual items in your lists, share them, and even suggest items to be added to your lists.

This is a great way to make sure that your content is tailored to suit your audience’s interests as well as to help you continually curate content.

Final Thoughts

While content curation can be a wonderful add-on to your content marketing strategy, it’s important to not take it lightly.

Make sure to curate content that’s timely, newsworthy, and relevant for your target audience.

Also, ensure that the sources you use are credible and reputable. This will help your content perform better and help you gain credibility.

Use your own personal insights to help your audience understand why the content you’re sharing might be valuable for them.

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Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, October 2019



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