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14 Top Reasons Why Google Isn’t Indexing Your Site

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14 Top Reasons Why Google Isn’t Indexing Your Site

Google won’t index your site? You’re not alone. There are many potential issues that may prevent Google from indexing web pages, and this article covers 14 of them.

Whether you want to know what to do if your site is not mobile-friendly or you’re facing complex indexing issues, we’ve got the information that you need.

Learn how to fix these common problems so that Google can start indexing your pages again.

1. You Don’t Have A Domain Name

The first reason why Google won’t index your site is that you don’t have a domain name. This could be because you’re using the wrong URL for the content, or it’s not set up correctly on WordPress.

If this is happening to you, there are some easy fixes.

Check whether or not your web address starts with “https://XXX.XXX…” which means that someone might be typing in an IP address instead of a domain name and getting redirected to your website.

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Also, your IP address redirection may not be configured correctly.

One way to fix this issue is by adding 301 redirects from WWW versions of pages back onto their respective domains. If people get directed here when they try searching for something like [yoursitehere], we want them to land on your physical domain name.

It’s important to ensure that you have a domain name. This is non-negotiable if you want to rank and be competitive on Google.

2. Your Site Is Not Mobile-Friendly

A mobile-friendly website is critical to getting your site indexed by Google since it introduced Mobile-First indexing.

No matter how great the content on your website is, if it’s not optimized for viewing on a smartphone or tablet, you’re going to lose rankings and traffic.

Mobile optimization doesn’t have to be difficult – simply adding responsive design principles like fluid grids and CSS Media Queries can go a long way towards making sure that users will find what they need without experiencing any navigation problems.

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The first thing I recommend doing with this issue is running your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

If you don’t get a “passed reading,” you have some work to do to make your site mobile-friendly.

3. You’re Using A Coding Language In A Way That’s Too Complex for Google

Google won’t index your site if you’re using a coding language in a complex way. It doesn’t matter what the language is – it could be old or even updated, like JavaScript – as long as the settings are incorrect and cause crawling and indexing issues.

If this is a problem for you, I recommend running through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to see how mobile-friendly your site really is (and make any fixes that might need to be made).

If your website isn’t passable on their standards yet, they offer plenty of resources with guidelines about all manner of design quirks that can come up while designing a responsive webpage.

4. Your Site Loads Slowly

Slow-loading sites make Google less likely to want them featured in the top results of their index. If your site takes a long time to load, it may be due to many different factors.

It could even be that you have too much content on the page for a user’s browser to handle or if you’re using an old-fashioned server with limited resources.

Solutions:

  • Use Google Page Speed Insights – This is one of my favorite tools I’ve found in recent years and helps me identify what sections of the website need urgent attention when improving its speed. The tool analyzes your webpage against five performance best practices (that are crucial for having faster loading sites), such as minimizing connections, reducing payload size, leveraging browser caching, etc., and will give you suggestions about how you can improve each aspect of your site.
  • Use a tool like webpagetest.org – This tool will let you know if your website is loading at a fast enough pace. It will also allow you to see, in detail, the specific elements on your site that are causing you issues. Their waterfall can help you identify significant page speed issues before they cause serious problems.
  • Use Google’s Page Speed insights again – See where you can make improvements to load times on the site. For example, it might be worth exploring a new hosting plan with more resources (pure dedicated servers are far better than shared ones) or using a CDN service that will serve static content from its cache in multiple locations around the world.

Ideally, make sure your page speed numbers hit 70 or more. As close to 100 as possible is ideal.

If you have any questions whatsoever regarding page speed, you may want to check out SEJ’s ebook on Core Web Vitals.

5. Your Site Has Minimal Well-Written Content

Well-written content is critical for succeeding on Google. If you have minimal content that doesn’t at least meet your competition’s levels, then you may have significant issues even breaking the top 50.

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In our experience, content that’s less than 1,000 words does not do as well as content that is more than 1,000 words.

Are we a content writing company? No, we are not. Is word count a ranking factor? Also no.

But, when you’re judging what to do in the context of the competition, making sure your content is well-written is key to success.

The content on your site needs to be good and informative. It needs to answer questions, provide information, or have a point of view that’s different enough from other sites in the same niche as yours.

If it doesn’t meet those standards, Google will likely find another site with better quality content that does.

If you’re wondering why your website isn’t ranking highly in Google search results for some keywords despite following through SEO best practices like adding relevant keywords throughout the text (Hint: Your Content), then one culprit may be thin pages where there really should be more than just 100 words per page!

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Thin pages can cause indexing issues because they don’t contain much unique content and don’t meet minimum quality levels compared to your competition.

6. Your Site Isn’t User-friendly And Engaging To Visitors

Having a user-friendly and engaging site is crucial to good SEO. Google will rank your site higher in search results if it’s easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for and navigate around the website without feeling frustrated or aggravated.

Google doesn’t want users spending too much time on a page that either takes forever to load, has confusing navigation, or is just plain hard to use because there are too many distractions (like ads above the fold).

If you only have one product listed per category instead of several, then this could be why your content isn’t ranking well with Google! It’s important not only to target keywords within each post but also to make sure that all related posts link back to other relevant articles/pages on the topic.

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Do people like sharing your blog? Are readers being wowed by your content? If not, then this could be why Google has stopped indexing your site.

If someone links directly to one specific product page instead of using relative keywords like “buy,” “purchase” etc., then there might be something wrong with the way other pages link back to that particular product.

Make sure all products listed on category pages also exist within each respective sub-category so users can easily make purchases without having to navigate complex linking hierarchies.

7. You Have A Redirect Loop

Redirect loops are another common problem that prevents indexing. These are typically caused by a common typo and can be fixed with the following steps:

Find the page that is causing the redirect loop. If you are using WordPress, find HTML source of one of your posts on this page or in an .htaccess file and look for “Redirect 301” to see which page it’s trying to direct traffic from. It’s also worth it to repair any 302 redirects and make sure they are set to 301.

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Use “find” in Windows Explorer (or Command + F if Mac) to search through all files containing “redirect” until you locate where the problem lies.

Fix any typos so there isn’t a duplicate URL address pointing back at itself then use redirection code like below:

Status codes such as 404s don’t always show up in Google Search Console. Using an external crawler like Screaming Frog, you can find the status codes for 404s and other errors.

If all looks good, use Google Search Console on-site to crawl the site again and resubmit it to indexing. Wait a week or so before checking back in with Google Search Console if there are any new warnings popping up that need attention.

Google doesn’t have time to update their indexes every day, but they do try every few hours which means sometimes your content may not show up right away even though you know it’s been updated. Be patient! It should be indexed soon enough.

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8. You’re Using Plugins That Block Googlebot from Crawling Your Site

One example of such a plugin is a robots.txt plugin. If you set your robots.txt file through this plugin to noindex your site, Googlebot will not be able to crawl it.

Set up a robots.txt file and do the following:

When you create this, set it as public so that crawlers can access it without restrictions.

Make sure your robots.txt file does not have the following lines:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

The forward slash means that the robots.txt file is blocking all pages from the root folder of the site. You want to make sure that your robots.txt file looks more like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

With the disallow line being blank, this is telling crawlers that they can all crawl and index every page on your site without restriction (assuming you don’t have specific pages marked as being noindexed.

9. Your Site Uses JavaScript To Render Content

Using JavaScript by itself is not always a complex issue that causes indexing problems. There isn’t one single rule that says JS is the only thing that causes problems. You have to look at the individual site and diagnose issues to determine if this is a problem.

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Where JS comes into play as an issue is when the JS prevents crawling by doing shady things – techniques that may be akin to cloaking.

If you have rendered HTML vs. raw HTML, and you have a link in the raw HTML that isn’t in the rendered HTML, Google may not crawl or index that link. Defining your rendered HTML vs. raw HTML issues is crucial because of these types of mistakes.

If you’re into hiding your JS and CSS files, don’t do it. Google has mentioned that they want to see all of your JS and CSS files when they crawl.

Google wants you to keep all JS and CSS crawlable. If you have any of those files blocked, you may want to unblock them and allow for full crawling to give Google the view of your site that they need.

10. You Did Not Add All Domain Properties To Google Search Console

If you have more than one variation of your domain, especially in a situation where you have migrated from http:// to https://, you must have all of your domain variations added and verified in Google Search Console.

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It’s important to make sure that you’re not missing any of your domain variations when adding them to GSC.

Add them to GSC, and make sure that you verify your ownership of all domain properties to ensure that you are tracking the right ones.

For new sites that are just starting out, this is likely to not be an issue.

11. Your Meta Tags Are Set To Noindex, Nofollow

Sometimes, through sheer bad luck, meta tags are set to noindex, nofollow. For example, your site may have a link or page that was indexed by Google’s crawler and then deleted before the change to noindex, nofollow was set up correctly in your website’s backend.

As a result, that page may not have been re-indexed and if you’re using a plugin to block Google from crawling your site then that page may never be indexed again.

The solution is simple: change any meta tags with the words noindex,nofollow on them so they read index,follow instead.

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If you have thousands of pages like this, however, you may have an uphill battle ahead of you. This is one of those times where you must grit your teeth and move forward with the grind.

In the end, your site’s performance will thank you.

12. You’re Not Using A Sitemap

You need to use a sitemap!

A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your site, and it’s also one way for Google to find out what content you have. This tool will help ensure that every page gets crawled and indexed by Google Search Console.

If you don’t have a sitemap, Google is flying blind unless all of your pages are currently indexed and receiving traffic.

It’s important to note, however, that HTML Sitemaps are deprecated in Google Search Console. The preferred format for sitemaps nowadays are XML Sitemaps.

You want to use your sitemap to tell Google what the important pages of your site are, and you want to submit it regularly for crawling and indexing.

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13. You’ve Been Penalized By Google In The Past And Haven’t Cleaned Up Your Act Yet

Google has repeatedly stated that penalties can follow you.

If you’ve had a penalty before and have not cleaned up your act, then Google won’t index your site.

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward: if it’s penalized by Google, they may not be able to do anything about it because penalties follow you around like an uninvited friend who drags their feet on the carpet as they walk through each room of your house.

If you’re wondering why would you still exclude some information from your website since you’re already in trouble with search engines?

The thing is that even though there are ways out of being penalized, many people don’t know how or can no longer make those changes for whatever reason (maybe they sold their company). Some also think that just removing pages and slapping the old content onto a new site will work just as well (it doesn’t).

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If you are penalized, the safest route is cleaning up your act from before entirely. You must have all-new content, and re-build the domain from the ground up, or do a complete content overhaul. Google explains that they expect you to take just as long getting out of a penalty as it did for you to get into one.

14. Your Technical SEO Is Terrible

Make no mistake: purchasing technical SEO from Fiverr.com is like purchasing a Lamborghini from a dollar store: you’re likely to get a counterfeit item rather than the real thing.

Doing technical SEO correctly is worth it: Google and your users will love you.

Let’s take a look at some common problems and solutions, and where technical SEO can help you.

Problem: Your site is not hitting Core Web Vitals numbers

Solution: Technical SEO will help you identify the issues with your Core Web Vitals and provide you with a path to correcting these issues. Don’t just put your faith in a strategic audit – this won’t always help you in these areas. You need a full technical SEO audit to unearth some of these issues, because they can range from the downright simple to the incredibly complex.

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Problem: Your site is has crawling and indexing issues

Solution: They can be incredibly complex and requires a seasoned technical SEO in order to uncover them and repair them. You must identify them if you’re finding that you are having zero traction or not getting any performance from your site.

Also, make sure that you haven’t accidentally ticked the “discourage search engines from indexing your website” box in WordPress.

Problem: Your site’s robots.txt file is somehow inadvertently blocking crawlers from critical files

Solution: Again, Technical SEO is here to rescue you from the abyss. Some sites are in so deep that you may not see a way out other than deleting the site and starting over. The nuclear option is not always the best option. This is where an experienced technical SEO professional is worth their weight in gold.

Identifying Website Indexing Issues Are A Challenge, But Well Worth Solving

Content, technical SEO, and links are all important to maintaining your site’s performance trajectory. But if your site has indexing issues, the other SEO elements will only get you so far.

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Be sure to tick off all the boxes and make sure you really are getting your site out there in the most correct manner.

And don’t forget to optimize every page of your website for relevant keywords! Making sure your technical SEO is up to par is worth it as well because the better Google can crawl, index, and rank your site, the better your results will be.

Google (and your website’s traffic) will thank you.

More Resources:


Featured image: Shutterstock/Sammby




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System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO

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Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

Want to meet other people interested in SEO offline? Give an SEO meetup a go.

In my experience, it’s one of the best ways to meet like-minded people and provides a more relaxed, informal setting than a bustling SEO conference. Who knows—you could make new friends at a meetup or even land new SEO clients.

But with so many events worldwide, it’s impossible to mention them all. So, here are some of the most talked-about SEO meet-ups I think you should have on your radar.

Okay—so I may be a little biased, but I wanted to start by sharing our Ahrefs’ SEO Events. We’ve run five Beer and Snacks Meetups in Singapore. We’ve also hosted an SEO Workshop and Networking meetup the day before BrightonSEO, and we just launched our London Meetup.

Tickets to the London Meetup sold out in a day and a half—it was our fastest-selling ticketed event ever.

Tim Soulo, Joshua Hardwick, and Ryan Law will speak at our inaugural event, covering topics such as improving your rankings, competitor research, and content marketing. To stay informed about our next event, follow our events page.

Sidenote.

Missed our meetups but still want to catch up with the Ahrefs team and a host of world-class speakers? Get Ahrefs Evolve tickets ✨

London SEO XL MeetupLondon SEO XL Meetup

The LondonSEO Meetup hosts an evening of networking with industry peers and leading experts featuring SEO speakers like Itamar Blauer, Steph Hugman, Reina Hanada, and many more.

The bigger XL event has even hosted prolific search engine news chronicler Barry Schwartz in 2023.

Search London Meetup PhotoSearch London Meetup Photo

With over 2,800 members, Search London is a popular meetup that has been around for over a decade.

Events are organized every 8-12 weeks, and members are from a mixture of agency, client-side, and start-up businesses.

The meet-up is open to anyone in SEO, PPC, or social media—and offers marketing professionals and first-time speakers a safe, supportive space to share their industry knowledge and experiences.

Search 'n Stuff Meetup PhotoSearch 'n Stuff Meetup Photo

Search ‘n Stuff meetups are an energetic and all-embracing community tailored to empower digital marketers, startups, in-house teams, and professionals. Expect sharings centered on strategies, campaigns, and other relevant SEO topics.

Neurodivergents In SEO Meetup PhotoNeurodivergents In SEO Meetup Photo

Neurodivergents in SEO provide a safe space for neurodivergent SEOs to network and learn.

The group holds in-person meetups at BrightonSEO, both in the UK and the US, and monthly pub quizzes with great prizes.

If you’re an SEO or marketer and identify as neurodivergent, you’re more than welcome to join the community. You can do so by signing up here.

Search Norwich PhotoSearch Norwich Photo

Search Norwich launched in 2018 as a free marketing meetup event. It often features top industry speakers who share their knowledge, tips, and advice with the search marketing community. At Search Norwich there are no sales agendas, fluff, or pitches—just valuable insights.

SEOFOMO Meetup PhotoSEOFOMO Meetup Photo

The SEOFOMO meetups are run by SEO superstar Aleyda Solis, who is a well-known SEO speaker and founder of SEO consultancy Orainti. She’ll also be the headline speaker for our first Ahrefs Evolve Conference.

SEOFOMO is a laid-back, free event perfect for learning, connecting, and sharing with other SEOs.

SEO Mastermind PhotoSEO Mastermind Photo

SEO Mastermind is a supportive, free, and friendly SEO community where you can grow your skills, meet like-minded people, and get answers to all your organic marketing questions.

SEO Mastermind meets around eight times a year, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium—but they also occasionally have meetups in other locations, for instance, at Brighton SEO and ISS Barcelona.

Organizer Jeroen Stikkelorum told me that SEO Mastermind is on a mission to build the most valuable Dutch-spoken SEO and organic marketing community in The Netherlands and Belgium. So if you’re local, give it a go.

SEO Lager Fest Meetup PhotoSEO Lager Fest Meetup Photo

SEO Lager Fest is a fun SEO meetup that (apart from drinking) enables you to network with like-minded folks in the SEO industry. They hold an SEO quiz, run case study competitions, do AMAs, and even do SEO charades.

SEOnerd Switzerland Meetup PhotoSEOnerd Switzerland Meetup Photo

SEOnerdSwitzerland is a volunteer-run association that organizes events for SEOs in Switzerland and beyond.

Dedicated to fair opportunities and diversity, they provide training and coaching for people wanting to break through as a public speaker in the SEO industry.

SEOnerdSwitzerland also offers training and coaching for speakers, aiming for a diverse and inclusive panel.

WebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, AustriaWebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, Austria

WebSchrona is a free monthly meetup for SEO and online marketing professionals in Salzburg, Austria. They meet every second Thursday at 6 p.m.

There’s no fixed agenda, so discussions are often unplanned and spontaneous and often involve a drink of some description.

Organizer Alexander Außermayr tells me that everyone is welcome to join their SEO meetups. The aim is to provide a regular, uncomplicated meetup in an open space—often a beer garden, if the weather is good.

SEO Benelux Meetup PhotoSEO Benelux Meetup Photo

SEO Benelux started in 2018 as a Facebook community for Dutch and Belgian SEO specialists. The meetup grew into the largest in the Benelux region, with more than 3,000 members.

There are four meetups each year, two in Belgium (Ghent and Antwerp) and one in the Netherlands (mostly Amsterdam). Each meetup attracts 70–90 people and features three speakers.

If you don’t live in a big city, it may be difficult to find a good meetup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any in your local area.

Here are my tips to help you find new meetups near you.

Tip 1 – Use Google’s advanced search operators to uncover new meetups

As new meetups pop up all the time and often without notice, it’s worth doing some digging to see what’s out there.

You can just do a regular ol’ Google search, but we’re SEOs—so let’s use some advanced search operators and spice it up a bit.

In this example, I searched for the phrase “meetup” in the title, plus my location and my favorite SEO tool, and it managed to uncover Tim’s tweet on our London Meetup.

Advanced Google Search Operators ExampleAdvanced Google Search Operators Example

This is just a very basic example, and you could use any website or location, but it shows how you can uncover information about new meetups with a little research.

Tip 2 – Trigger the Events SERP feature

By searching for events or events near me, you can trigger the Events SERP feature. In the example below, I found a few SEO-related events by prepending “SEO” to the search.

Triggering the Events SERP Feature ExampleTriggering the Events SERP Feature Example

Once you’ve triggered the feature, scroll down until you find an SEO meetup that catches your eye.

Tip 3 – Use Meetup to find an SEO meetup

If you can’t find anything on Google then it’s a good idea to run a quick check on a specialist community platform.

One of the most popular platforms is Meetup. It allows you to find events near your location on any topic.

Meetup.com screenshotMeetup.com screenshot

Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of smaller meetups through this website, and they have always been interesting and a place to make new connections.

Tip 4 – No SEO meetup in your area? Start your own!

I started my own mini-meetup in 2018 on WhatsApp with some former colleagues, imaginatively titled #seodrinks.

#SEOdrinks meetup logo#SEOdrinks meetup logo

It started from humble beginnings in a room in a small pub in London, and it’s still in a room in a small pub—somewhere in London. (If you want an invite, let me know on LinkedIn.)

We only have semi-regular meetups in London and a small group, but every meetup has to start somewhere.

If you want to start your own SEO meetup, platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram are the best free places to start, but if you want a more specialized paid option, you could try Meetup or another similar platform.

Final thoughts

You don’t always have to attend a big SEO conference to meet other amazing people in the industry. Some of the smaller meetups I’ve been to have resulted in making more contacts than the bigger conferences.

As such, SEO meet-ups are one of my favorite ways to meet people who are just as interested in SEO and marketing as much as you are.

Did I miss an SEO meetup? Add your SEO meetup here, or let me know on LinkedIn.



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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

SEO and content marketing are different marketing channels. But you don’t have to choose between them. They’re complementary.

In fact, you should combine them for greater effectiveness in your marketing.

Two main reasons:

1. Content marketing and SEO are like peanut butter and jelly—they work well together

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers.

Here’s how SEO helps content marketing:

The web's largest traffic referrersThe web's largest traffic referrers

SEO is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engines to get more traffic.

Here’s how content marketing helps SEO:

  • It helps you get more search traffic — If you want more search traffic, you need to rank for more keywords, which requires you to make more content.
  • It makes SEO more effective — Thought leadership content acquires backlinks, gated content generates leads, and sales enablement converts traffic into sales.

2. The same amount of investment in effort, money, and time can generate results for both content marketing and SEO

We’re the perfect example. Our content ranks high on Google and generates hundreds of thousands of monthly search visitors:

Ahrefs blog trafficAhrefs blog traffic

It also attracts links and shares on social media because we make sure each piece is unique and not just regurgitation or “AI content”.

LinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of viewLinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of view

Finally, each piece of content introduces visitors to our product and educates them on how to use it to solve their problems. (Keep on reading and you’ll see it in action too!)

Example of how we introduce our product in our contentExample of how we introduce our product in our content

It hits all content marketing and SEO goals at once:

  • Acquires search traffic ✅
  • Builds thought leadership ✅
  • Attracts links ✅
  • Generates sales (over the long-term) ✅

How do we do what we do? Believe it or not, there’s a method to the madness. Here’s one line that summarizes our entire SEO content marketing strategy:

We create and maintain high-quality, product-led, search-focused content about topics with business potential and search traffic potential.

Let me break down how we combine SEO and content marketing:

If you want to acquire search traffic, you need to target topics that your potential customers are searching for.

The easiest way to find these keywords is to use a keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer:

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a few broad keywords related to your site or niche
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Filter for keywords with traffic potential (TP)
Matching terms report in Keywords ExplorerMatching terms report in Keywords Explorer

Sidenote.

Traffic Potential is the estimated monthly organic search traffic to the top-ranking page for a keyword. Since pages tend to rank for many keywords, Traffic Potential is a more reliable estimate than search volume.

Go through the report and pick out the keywords that are relevant to your site. For example, if I were an ecommerce store selling coffee equipment, this could be a potential keyword to target:

The keyword "best coffee grinder"The keyword "best coffee grinder"

A keyword’s business potential is how easy it will be to pitch your product while covering a certain topic. It’s our ‘trade secret’—it’s why we can easily introduce our product and its features in every piece of content we create.

Here’s how to score a topic’s business potential:

Business potential scoring chartBusiness potential scoring chart

So, taking the above example, the topic “best coffee grinder” would score a “3” (provided we sell coffee grinders) whereas a topic like “does decaf coffee have caffeine” would score a “1” or even a “0”.

You should prioritize topics that score high on business potential, i.e. a “2” or a “3”.

What does all of the jargon mean? Let’s break it down.

Search-focused

Part one of being ‘search-focused’ is finding keywords that people are searching for. Part two is to figure out why they’re searching for those particular keywords. This ‘why’ is known as search intent.

Given that Google’s goal is to always rank the most relevant content, we can look at the search engine results (SERPs) to uncover search intent. Take your target keyword, enter it into Keywords Explorer, scroll down to SERP Overview, and click Identify intents:

Identify intents feature in Keywords ExplorerIdentify intents feature in Keywords Explorer

So, we can see that searchers looking for the keyword “best coffee grinders” want detailed reviews and expert recommendations on the best coffee grinders. Not only that, we can also see that searchers want a list that is fresh.

Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"

If we’re targeting this topic, making it search-focused means matching this search intent—we’ll need to create a list of the best coffee grinders for the current year.

Product-led

Product-led means ensuring you’re not just creating content for the sake of it; you’re also ‘selling’ your product. You want to be aware of which use case, feature, or service you want to weave into the narrative. Naturally, of course.

Scoring a topic’s business potential would have done 90% of the work here. If you’re creating content about a topic that scored a “3”, then your product pitch would be natural. For example, we could easily add links back to our coffee equipment store after covering the best coffee grinders. Or, if we make our coffee grinders, we could pitch them as one of the best. (That’s why I say the business potential score is our secret ingredient.)

The challenge comes when you’re covering topics that score a “1” or “0”. It’s not impossible, but you’ll need to be creative.

For example, I recently covered the topic “SEO specialist”. It had a business potential of “1” and was tough to include a product pitch. Fortunately, I noticed that some job listings asked for experience with different SEO toolsets (including us.) It was the perfect segue to introduce our product and certification course.

An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1

High-quality

This is subjective. Everyone’s standards are different. But here’s how we think of quality:

  • Accurate — No hype, no lying. Every statement we make should be as accurate as possible.
  • Clear — No fluff—delete all unnecessary words and sentences. Use jargon only when needed. When necessary, create illustrations to expand on ideas and concepts.
  • Helpful — Being product-led is important but the content should not just be aimed at pitching. The content should be focused primarily on helping visitors solve their problems, while creatively weaving our product into the context.
  • Unique — One way to make your content unique is to have skin in the game—conduct experiments, run data studies, and write from personal experience. If having skin is difficult, then interview practitioners. Focus on did, not could.

The deterioration of your content is inevitable:

  • Search-focused — Your rankings may drop because of competitors. Or you didn’t even rank the first time round. Or your target topic’s search intent changed (e.g., the word corona’s search intent changed during the void years of 2020-2022.)
  • Product-led — You may have new features, services, or use cases to introduce. Or your team has depreciated certain features or abandoned some services.
  • High-quality — Statements may become inaccurate over time. Or your unique idea was so successful that everyone else copied you (and outranked you.) Or you might have better ways to reword sentences and paragraphs. Or just simply the ideas, screenshots, and content has become outdated.

That’s why you don’t build a train track and disappear. You have to actively maintain it to keep it working. (I’m looking at you London tube.) Same goes for your content.

The way to maintain your content is to conduct regular content audits. We do this every quarter—Each writer on our blog team goes through their portfolio of articles and selects at least three pieces to update. Each writer may also choose a couple to do a full rewrite.

I highly recommend going through our content audit template so you can see what went wrong with your content and what to do with it next.

Final thoughts

SEO and content marketing may be different marketing types, but that doesn’t mean you need to do one to the exclusion of the other.

Both channels are highly compatible and as you see above, can be designed as an entire strategy that hits all important marketing objectives.



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