SEO has changed, but it’s also very much the same.
Well, in this video, I’m going to show you what’s working today and helping us grow our organic traffic exponentially.
What’s up, SEOs?
Vishal Patwa here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and dominate your niche.
As I’m sure you know, there have been quite a few algorithm updates in the past 12 months, and as a result, a ton of sites was affected.
Now, we only know of specific industries like health that got hit.
But the truth is that no one knows exactly what happened except Google themselves.
So for that reason, I’m not going to bother making predictions.
Instead, I’m going to show you the SEO strategies and tips that are working right now based on our own experiences and those of respected members in the SEO community.
Let’s get to it.
The first SEO tip is an obvious one, and that’s to have a mobile-optimized website.
Let’s zip through this one.
At the end of 2018, Google announced that after two years of work, over half of the pages shown in search results use mobile-first indexing.
It means that Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
So long story short, if your website isn’t mobile-optimized, do it.
Next up is to start with topical research.
We all know what keyword research is, but don’t confuse it with topical analysis.
Today, more than ever, targeting individual keywords is the wrong way to approach SEO.
In our study of over 3 million search queries, we found that, on average, the number one ranking page also ranks for nearly a thousand additional keywords.
It can lead to a single page getting tens or even hundreds of thousands of search visitors across all its keywords.
My favorite example of this is an article from Healthline.com, which gets nearly half a million search visits each month and ranks for around 30,000 keywords.
Looking at their organic keyword rankings, you’ll see they also rank for popular search queries like how to lose weight, the best way to lose weight, weight loss, and lose weight fast.
All of these queries are mostly looking for the same solution to the same problem, and Google recognizes this as being in the same topical umbrella.
So if you want to get more search traffic from a single page, you’ll want to find topics that have breadth.
And the easiest way to find topics with high search traffic potential is to see what’s working for your competitors.
So let’s go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and start by entering a competitors’ domain, in this case, healthline.com.
Next, I’ll go to the Top pages report, which ranks their pages by the ones that generate the most search traffic.
And since we’re interested in worldwide traffic, I’ll set this filter to show traffic from all countries.
For a quick eyeball test, just look at these columns: Traffic, Top keyword, and the Top keyword’s volume.
Generally speaking, the more significant the discrepancy between the search traffic and the top keyword’s volume, the higher the total traffic potential will be.
The next tip is to build topical authority.
Now, the best way to explain this is with an example.
Let’s say you were building a shed in your backyard.
Would you rather have a bricklayer for that job or an architect?
They both work with buildings, but their areas, or topics of specialty, are different.
The same goes for websites.
Google understands which websites are authoritative over a niche.
For example, if we look at the top 10 results for the best antivirus software,
you’ll see that mega computer publications and antivirus companies dominate them.
Now, looking at the 6th result, you’ll see a page from toptenreviews.com.
Now, if you’ll look carefully, they have significantly more links from unique websites, yet they can’t seem to penetrate the top 5 positions.
After analyzing the content, one possibility is that the other results are topically stronger websites pushing down toptenreviews.com, which covers a wide range of topics.
So how do you create topical authority in your niche?
Two things: First is to get links from topically relevant
and authoritative websites.
In the case of antivirus software, links from sites like Norton, PC mag, or other relevant sites would be the holy grail of related links.
The second is to create contextual relevance on your website through internal linking.
A great strategy is to create content silos.
You have a top-level page, which is usually used to rank for significant head terms.
You then create subtopics underneath them, where they all link internally to each other creating relevance for users and search engines.
For example, let’s say you have a website on coffee and want to build a silo around the head term, coffee beans.
Let’s type that into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer as our seed.
Next, I’ll go to the Phrase match report to find keyword ideas that would make good subtopics.
Now, a quick way to find subtopics is to look at the Parent topic, which represents the broader topic or subtopic to the target.
For example, you can see that by targeting coffee beans as the main keyword, you could also rank for best coffee beans, which would be good to know when creating your top-level page.
Subtopics to your main topic could be keywords like types of coffee beans and how to roast coffee beans.
The next technique is probably the most important when it comes to SEO today, and that’s matching search intent.
Search intent means the reason behind a searcher’s query.
And Google’s job is to match the best results to any given query.
So no matter how many links you have.
No matter how good your technical and on-page SEO is, if you’re not matching search intent, then you’re not going to rank.
The easiest way to identify search intent is just to Google the keyword you want to rank for and look at the types of pages that are ranking.
These will generally fall into the 3 C’s of search intent.
- Content Type
- Content Format
- Content angle.
Content-type can usually be categorized into blog posts, product, category, and landing pages.
Content format applies more to blog posts and landing pages.
A few standard blog formats you’ll see are how-tos, step-by-step tutorials, list posts, and opinion editorials.
For a landing page, that might be something like a tool or calculator.
A content angle is often depicted in the title as the benefit.
It’s your hook as to why someone should click and read your article.
Just by matching search intent alone, we’ve seen ranking boosts from position 40 to position 6 in only four days.
And it was also the primary way we were able to rank
#1 for the keyword backlink checker.
If you want the details on how we were able to do this, I’ll leave a link to our video on how ranking #1 on Google is overrated, where you’ll see exactly what we did to get these fast gains in traffic and rankings.
The next thing you can do is to keep your content fresh.
It’s generally accepted in the SEO community that Google uses a freshness factor in their ranking algorithm. If you look at the publishing history for the Ahrefs blog, you can see that we republish content, which is represented in the dark blue bars.
Now, to prove my point, I’m going to set a couple of filters, the first being to only show pages that have been republished.
Next, I’ll set another filter to only show pages that were published this year.
And finally, I’ll set the Trends graph to show the past six months of data in the table below.
If you look at the organic traffic graphs, you’ll see that a good chunk of these pages had increases in organic traffic after they were republished.
And I can tell you that for all of these pages shown here, we didn’t run any link building campaigns, nor did search intent change for these.
To identify which pages you should update, ask yourself these questions.
If the answer is no, then you should give it more time to rank.
Against the top-ranking results?
If you haven’t spent time building links, yet the top-ranking pages have hundreds of backlinks, then it’s more likely an authority issue over a freshness one.
Like I mentioned before, if you can’t match search intent, then you probably can’t rank of organic traffic, but it’s declining?
If the answer is yes, then the last question is going to help you make your final decision.
And that’s, is your content outdated?
This one is a little more subjective and requires a bit of research and common sense.
Best of posts is an excellent example of when freshness may be an issue.
For example, if you haven’t updated your 2017 the guide that used to rank for best headphones, then it makes sense why you’re not ranking.
Manufacturers are always releasing new models, and people are looking for today’s technology.
To get a better idea, just go to Google and search for your target keyword.
And if you see that a good chunk of the posts have the current year in the titles and yours is out of date, then it’s time for a refresh.
The next thing you should focus on in 2019 are links that move the needle.
Not all links are created equal.
And as a general rule of thumb, the harder the link is to get, the more valuable it’ll be to your SEO success.
Without overcomplicating things, think of useful links in 3 layers.
The more criteria it matches, the better.
First is a topical authority of the referring domain.
Getting links from websites that are highly related to your content will likely add more weight than popular ones.
For example, if your page is on the best headphones in 2019 and you get links from places like Cnet, Techradar, and Bose, these would be ideal links to acquire.
Compare that to a link from a travel blog who had a one-off post where they mentioned something about shopping for headphones.
When you’re prospecting for links, you can usually gauge a website’s niche by just the domain name.
Second is the relevance of the link.
Let’s use that example of best headphones again, but this time at the page level.
Getting a link from another page on the same topic would be ideal.
It’s super-relevant to your content.
As for the travel blogger, he or she may have written a personal post about their travels to Spain.
And as they were documenting their journey, they happened to mention that they bought Bose QC35s because of your guide.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the topic of the post is actually about traveling to Spain.
Link #1 is more relevant, and will almost certainly provide more value to your page.
The third is the referring page’s link authority.
Google still uses PageRank today in their ranking algorithm.
In general, the more quality links a referring page has, the more link juice it can pass on to both internal and external links on that page.
An easy way to measure this is to look at the URL rating.
It is an Ahrefs’ metric, which represents the overall strength of a page’s backlink profile.
And you’ll see it in numerous reports throughout Ahrefs’ SEO toolset.
The higher the UR, the more authority it can pass.
If you’re looking for link building strategies that often fulfill these requirements, then the two that I recommend are the Skyscraper technique and guest posting.
With Skyscraper style prospects, you’ll often find more mature pages where they’ve had time to get links and build PageRank.
So getting links from some of these pages can very well move the needle.
And the second is guest posting, which is excellent since you can handpick sites you want to get links from.
We have a video on executing both of these tactics at scale, so I’ll leave links to those in the end of the article.
The next thing I highly recommend focusing on is YouTube SEO.
In the past year, we’ve grown our subscribers. Most importantly, it’s helped us generate thousands of new customers.
Now, this article isn’t about video SEO.
We’re focusing on Google SEO today, so stay with me for a second.
I’m sure you’ve noticed a massive increase in video results in Google’s search results.
And the proof is in the pudding.
The traffic we get from Google to our YouTube videos has increased consistently, and I don’t see it getting any smaller.
By creating engaging videos with some on-page work, we’ve been able to rank for competitive terms in Google like SEO tutorial, YouTube SEO, and search engine optimization.
Since Google is giving more real estate to videos, this is something that I highly recommend tapping into if you haven’t already started.
I’ll link up a video on exactly how we do YouTube SEO to rank in both YouTube and Google, so make sure to check that out.
Now, these are strategies that have been working for us and other respected SEOs in our community.
But I want to hear from you.
What has or has not been working for your SEO growth?
Leave a comment and make sure to like, share, and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials.
So keep grinding away, repeat what’s working instead of chasing shiny tactics, and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.