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15 Easy (And Free) Ways to Promote Your Website in 2022

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Free and effective promotion tactics? Yeah, right.

At the risk of sounding like a salesman, let me tell you that not only do these marketing tactics exist, but they’re also actually some of the most effective ones. We’ve been using them, other marketers use them, and most of the big websites I’ve seen to date use them. 

But that’s not all. You don’t need a degree in marketing or to be a marketing pro to start promoting your website for free and get results. Here are 15 ideas that go into the free, easy, and effective basket.

1. Prioritize easy keywords for SEO

If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, it stands for search engine optimization, and it allows you to get free traffic from search engines like Google. 

Overview of our beginner's guide to affiliate marketing
For example, our beginner’s guide on affiliate marketing gets an estimated 24.4K visits from search engines every month.

One of the fundaments of the SEO process is to choose the right keywords to create content for. Now, a tried and tested tactic for new websites and websites without a strong backlink profile is to choose keywords with low ranking difficulty. 

You can spot those keywords by mainly looking at two things: 

  • How many backlinks from unique domains do the top-ranking pages have? 
  • Do the top-ranking pages belong to a domain with high topical authority? 

Here’s how you can do it using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. You can:

  1. Enter a seed keyword (or multiple seed keywords).
  2. Go to the Matching terms report and filter the KD (Keyword Difficulty) metric to show keywords with up to 20 KD. This will show you easy keywords based on backlink profile. 
  3. Pick a relevant keyword and open the SERP panel to see what kinds of pages rank. If you see popular brands dominating, those keywords may be hard to rank despite the low KD. SERPs without brands like that should be easier to target. 
  4. Repeat step #3 for every relevant keyword on the list. 
Keywords with KD lower than 20 based on "matcha" seed keyword
Keywords with KD lower than 20 based on the “matcha” seed keyword.
Example of a keyword with low KD and no "very strong" brands
Example of a keyword with low KD and no “very strong” brands.

Single low-competition keywords may not offer as much traffic potential. But if you pile up a number of pages targeting these keywords, you can end up with serious organic search traffic. 

Also, low-competition keywords may convert better than their more generic counterparts if they are specific enough. One of the neat tricks to find keywords that can possibly convert to sales is to check the CPC ad cost to see if people bid for those keywords. 

Keyword ideas sorted by CPC

So what to do with difficult keywords? Of course, you may target them any time you wish, but note that they will probably take more time (and backlinks) to rank. 

Position history chart for our article on keyword research
Despite many factors in favor of our article on keyword research, it reached #1 in the U.S. only after some four years of content updates and earning backlinks. Even then, it could not hold that position. KD 87 out of 100. Strong brands competing on the same keyword. Data via Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Recommendation

You may also want to try out zero–search volume keywords, as they are usually low-competition too. This article will introduce you to the subject and show you the steps. Do note that this tactic doesn’t always bring results and can be a bit more complicated than what you’ve read above. Also, it may be more suitable for some areas (B2B, emerging technologies) than others.

2. Do SEO for your existing pages 

Sometimes, you don’t need to create new content to get more traffic. Your old content may just need some SEO work, including:

  • More precise alignment with search intent to better serve the meaning of the search query.
  • Refreshing the content, making it more up to date. 
  • Introducing a unique value to show Google and searchers that you have something new to add to the table (to Google, unique content is quality content). 
  • Optimizing your title tag to get more clicks from the SERPs (search engine results pages). 
  • Filling content gaps for more topical relevancy. 
  • Adding internal links to distribute link equity. 

At Ahrefs, we do these things to get more traffic regularly. With multiple successes. 

Nailed search intent (before and after results shown in line graph)
Here’s how organic traffic to one of our articles grew after we aligned with the search intent.

You can follow our step-by-step process with this guide: Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO 

3. Create a free resource 

This tactic is all about creating valuable, unique content that’s ideally centered around your brand or product—then offering free access to the content.

Whether it’s a printable PDF guide or a tutorial series on YouTube, focus on adding value for your audience. You’ll then start seeing the magic of word of mouth at work.

Actual user feedback for “Blogging for business”
Actual user feedback for “Blogging for business,” our free video tutorial course on how to grow your blog past 100K monthly visitors.

But first, you need a proven topic for your free resource. 

You can find inspiration for topics manually by visiting social media profiles of authors and magazines in your niche and looking at the engagement signals: likes, retweets, comments, etc. Additionally, you can browse through online communities and see what resonates with your target audience. 

Sample content idea from Reddit

But there are also tools that can help you with this job. 

One tool we recommend quite often for any kind of audience research is SparkToro. Just plug in topics your target audience frequently talks about to discover related topics and hashtags (among many other things).

SparkToro search tool

And with an all-in-one SEO toolset like Ahrefs, you can broaden your options with keyword research. 

Matching terms report with applied filters

And on top of that, you can reverse engineer what worked for your competitors. 

Top pages report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer
Top pages report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer will uncover pages with the most organic traffic. You can also filter the results, as in the example above.

Recommendation

Consider creating content tailored to platforms with native distribution mechanisms. For example, you can create a course on a site like Udemy on how to, say, paint Warhammer miniatures and mention that you own a website on the topic with more cool resources.

4. Partner up for a joint course or webinar 

Look for other businesses that target a similar audience but do not compete with you directly.

Then see if they are up for a content collaboration with you. This way, you can pitch to their audience, and they get to pitch to yours.

Here’s an example: In 2018, we worked with Buffer, a social media scheduling tool, to create a webinar titled “How to Get Website Traffic With Evergreen Content and Social Media Marketing.”

Buffer + Ahrefs joint webinar

While the audience was comprised of digital marketers, our products are different enough and do not compete with each other. 

5. Repurpose your content for other marketing channels 

Repurposing content is about using existing content and “repacking” it for other marketing channels. 

For example, you can chop a larger article into smaller pieces and use them to promote the original piece via guest blogging. Actually, it’s such a common technique that it has its own name: the “Splintering Technique.” 

Splintering technique for content repurposing

Or you can turn an article into a video and take advantage of YouTube’s search engine and content recommendation algorithms. 

Article repurposed into a video
Our article on influencer marketing was repurposed into a video and published on YouTube to reach even more people. Of course, it can work the other way around too.

Or you can take an entire post, strip it down to a tl;dr version, and publish it on Reddit. 

Article repurposed into a tl;dr version posted on Reddit
This is something we did with our guide on keyword research.

There are other ways to take advantage of this tactic. Check out our complete guide to content repurposing, where we share nine ideas for that. 

6. Find guest blogging opportunities 

How can you promote your website while writing for others? 

When you publish content for other websites, a number of things happen: 

  • You get a boost to your website traffic (although it’s not the best method for consistent traffic).
  • You expose your brand to a new audience. 
  • The earned link contributes to your backlink profile. 
  • You can make new connections in the industry. 

Apart from preparing a pitch that stands out from the crowd, the key is to find the right places to publish. 

For this, you can use Google with search operators. Then you need to vet each page manually. Try our free website authority checker for that last part. 

Using Google with search operators to find guest posting opportunities
Result from screening a website with Ahrefs' free authority checker

With an Ahrefs sub and our SEO Toolbar, you can also vet the websites right inside the SERPs.

Using Google with search operators and Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar to find guest posting opportunities

Or use our Content Explorer to get additional insight to filter for results that meet specific performance criteria. 

Possible guest blogging opportunities filtered by DR and website traffic
Possible guest blogging opportunities filtered by DR and website traffic.

7. Syndicate your content 

Content syndication is a similar tactic to guest blogging. The only difference is that with content syndication, you publish the same thing in multiple places. 

Getting started with content syndication is practically the same as guest blogging. You need: 

  • Great content. 
  • Potential syndicates (websites that can publish your content). You can use the same process and tools as described above. The only thing that changes is your search query. So you can use something like “originally appeared on” + [topic].
  • A good pitch to get your foot through the door. 

With syndication comes the option to self-syndicate. So unlike guest blogging, you can self-populate your articles to other platforms like Medium, Reddit, or LinkedIn. These platforms have a large audience and their own distribution mechanism, so you can get in front of people’s eyes for free. 

Hubspot syndicating article on Medium

Recommendation

Use a backlink checking tool to see where authors of your choice syndicate their content. In Ahrefs, go to Backlinks report, set the word or phrase filter to “Anchor with surrounding text,” and type “originally appeared on” inside the input field.

Backlinks profile with Anchor filter applied

8. Engage with your audience on social media 

Social media platforms, including online communities, are places where you can likely find your target audience. You just need to figure out where exactly and how you can provide unique value to them. If you have something important to say, there will be plenty of opportunities to link to your website. 

A link to a blog post that's part of a relevant answer on Quora
Example: posting answers on Quora.

Start by learning more about your audience. Again, for this, I’ll recommend SparkToro. 

Another way to find places that mention topics related to your website (or even your website) is to use a web monitoring tool like Google Alerts or our very own Ahrefs Alerts

Sample Ahrefs Alert setup

Once you’ve zeroed in on your communities, you may want to approach them with these universal tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to what works for each audience – After joining, read the rules and dedicate some time to researching the group. Look at how the existing members interact. Also, comment on others’ posts while adding value and being helpful.
  • Post thoughtful, insightful comments – Others will begin to return the favor. Don’t be a spammer. 
  • Start referencing your own website after a while – Only do so after you’ve spent a good amount of time giving back to the community and making some friends. Even then, try to go about it in a way that doesn’t scream “blatant advertisement.” Asking for opinions or positioning your website as something that may help people out are some ways to go about it.

Recommendation

You shouldn’t always expect referral traffic from your social posts. Two reasons:

  • If there’s no natural way to include a link, don’t do it. Otherwise, your content may be seen as a spam policy violation.
  • Social media platforms seem to prefer native continent, i.e., content that is to be “consumed” on the spot instead of accessed via a link. This means sometimes you will have to trade links for engagement. 

Case in point. Have you heard about Miss Excel? Her software training business can generate up to six figures per day. Not per month, per day. Even Google Docs tried to correct me on that.

Incorrect autocorrect by Google Docs

Miss Excel gets customers through social media. But you can rarely come across a direct link to her course in any of her posts. Instead, she directly shares Excel tips on TikTok and Instagram. Here’s a great interview on how she does what she does. 

Instagram intro on Miss Excel's page

9. Start a community of your own

And how about creating your own community? 

It may work if:

  • People genuinely like to share thoughts on topics related to your website. 
  • You can offer a unique value that will attract and retain your audience. 
Marketing Solved community promoting a free course
Marketing Solved is a popular marketing community run on Facebook. Note the highlight.

Going further, we can see there are multiple benefits of having a community tied to your website. In terms of promotional aspects, the biggest benefit will likely be word of mouth. 

Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing channels. It will start working organically when community members feel like the value inside the community will benefit others. But you can potentially influence word of mouth by giving people a reason to talk, such as a new study you just published. 

Sharing an original research study on Ahrefs Insider

This way, a community can naturally start to attract members and, as a result, promote your website. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect overnight success with this tactic. Treat it, rather, as a long-term investment with dividends paid as you go. 

10. Build an email list, start a newsletter 

Here’s why email marketing has been utilized by so many marketers: It allows them to build an audience and communicate with them directly and regularly. For free. An email marketing list like that can become one of your most valuable assets. 

Of course, building an email list is not that easy. But if email marketing is done in tandem with quality content marketing, a setup like that puts the process of list-building almost on autopilot. All you need to do is to put up a sign-up form next to your content. 

Email sign-up form displayed next to an article

Before you run off and start looking for the best email app, do make sure you’re on the right track:

  • You need to commit to publishing great content regularly – After all, the content should attract people to your email list. If you feel like you can use a step back to revisit your blogging strategy, check out this list of 17 blogging tips
  • What kind of newsletter will your audience like to read? For example, we recently found that Ahrefs’ audience prefers to get a short digest of each article we feature in the email instead of, say, bare links to articles. 
  • What will be unique about your newsletter? Do you plan to include some kind of added value or exclusive content for your email subscribers? Or will you keep it simple by offering people the good ol’ “never miss a post again”? 

11. Get listed in local directories (for local businesses) 

If you’re a local business owner, getting listed in local directories is a must. 

This is because people look for local services on the web all of the time. For this, they use either local service directories or simply plug in a keyword like “lawyer near me” in Google. In the latter case, Google will usually point them to a local directory. 

SERP for "lawyer near me" dominated by map pack and directories
Looking for a lawyer via Google these days? Well, you will see mostly maps and links to directories.

Creating or claiming your Google Business Profile is a good starting point. Setting up the profile is quite straightforward (and free). However, what I recommend here is going a step further and making sure your profile is optimized. Here’s how to do it in 30 minutes

Completing this step will make your business profile (hence, your website) eligible to show up in Google Map Pack (the search result with a map, as seen in the picture above), Google Maps, and a local knowledge panel when someone looks for your brand. 

Next, add your business to relevant local directories. For example, a lawyer may want to list their service for free with Thervo.com. Just make sure to keep all information consistent across platforms.

Once you’re done with adding your business to directories, check out our guide on local SEO to take things a notch higher. Among other things, this guide will show you tactics that can improve your position in the local map pack and how to create content for keywords with local search intent.

12. Do outreach for link building 

Outreach done for link building purposes is a tactic where you get your content in front of bloggers and influencers in your industry. The aim is to get them to talk about you and link to you.

This tactic is mainly utilized to boost the “authority” of your pages in the eyes of Google so that these pages rank higher and bring more search traffic. 

Correlation between search traffic and referring domains
Our study of 1 billion pages found a strong, positive correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and search traffic from Google.

In its simplest form, outreach is the act of reaching out and asking for a link back to your website. And yet, great outreach at scale is a lot more than just asking for a backlink. The process involves:

  1. Creating content. 
  2. Finding prospects. 
  3. Segmenting your prospects. 
  4. Finding the right contact details.
  5. Crafting your pitch.
  6. Scaling your outreach. 

Sounds easy, right? But there are actually a lot of details involved that can make or break the process. Also, steps like finding prospects or finding the correct emails are too tedious or even impossible without the right tools. 

Hunter's Sheets add-on filling email addresses the tool can find

The best way to go about your outreach process is to pick up a tried and tested process you can simply follow to a T. Here’s one from us, completely free: 

Recommendation

Some backlinks will have a greater impact on your webpages than others. Learn what makes a good backlink

13. Get free press with digital PR 

Digital PR (public relations) can do such an amazing thing: carrying your message to your audience for you.

Link to a local lawyer's website in a magazine—a PR effort
And now you know a reputable music industry attorney. All thanks to her commentary on an article about NFTs.

Promoting your website through digital PR includes:

  • Using services like HARO or SourceBottle to monitor journalist requests – Sign up and wait for expert commentary requests related to your website or important to your audience. Try also following #journorequest on Twitter. 
  • Newsjacking – This is about monitoring news to react with expert commentary and thought leadership pieces. 
  • Pitching linkable assets to journalists and bloggers – You can use something you’ve already created or create something special for that occasion. 

All of the above tactics allow you to benefit in three ways: 

  1. Build awareness of your website
  2. Send traffic to your website when people want to learn more about you
  3. Boost SEO if the commentary includes a live link to your website 
Backlinks report showing a link from a high-DR website
Being featured in the press is usually a great opportunity for a high-DR link.

Here are two free tools from Ahrefs that can help you with your digital PR efforts. 

The first one is our aforementioned free website authority checker. Thanks to it, you will be able to quickly see the authority of the website. 

The second one is our Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. You can use it as a free way to monitor backlinks from your PR efforts. 

Backlinks report with DR, anchor, and dofollow filters
With the Backlinks report, you can easily filter your backlinks based on properties like DR, type of link, or the text inside the anchor and the surrounding text. In this example, we see links earned by a law firm from publicity around Johnny Depp’s recent trial.

14. Get featured in newsletters or podcasts

Chances are that there is a newsletter in your niche that regularly curates content found on the web. 

And chances are, if your content is good enough, it can be featured in one of those newsletters. 

One of my articles featured in #SEOFOMO newsletter
One of my articles featured in #SEOFOMO newsletter subscribed by +20K SEOs.

Naturally, a link inside a newsletter won’t count for SEO. But it can lead to links from authors reading that newsletter. And in any case, you’re putting your name on the map and making the newsletter’s subscribers aware of you. 

What you need to do here is to find relevant newsletters and show your work in a well-thought-out outreach pitch

Using Google with search operators to find newsletters
You can use the same process as with any prospecting process explained in this article. Tip: use brackets to group multiple terms.

Two words of advice:

  • Pitch only your best articles – Remember, you’re pitching to a flesh-and-blood human, and they don’t like spamming. 
  • Don’t worry if your content doesn’t get chosen this time – Try to reforge that into a relationship with the editor. There will be other chances. 

15. Get featured in rankings or reviews 

The web is full of rankings and reviews. Chances are that some of them are related to what you do. Getting featured (and linked) is a free way to get some direct referral traffic, boost your SEO, and increase your brand awareness. 

If you’re just starting out, you may want to build some authority before you send your first pitch. Keep in mind that editors will screen your website by a number of different criteria—from website design, social media following, to even personally testing your products, recipes, strategies, and whatever you offer. Also, they may be actual experts on the topic. 

So what may help you here is segmenting your outreach prospects based on the authority of the website you’re targeting. What you’ll do then is to start from smaller websites and move your way up. 

The backlink profile of a website can be a useful, quick proxy for this, so you can use Ahrefs’ Site Audit or the free website authority checker if you don’t own a subscription.

At all times, check your targets manually. This will help you personalize your pitch and potentially discover additional opportunities, such as a special section for “rising stars.”

"Rising stars" section in a newsletter

Another tip here is to focus on webpages that rank very specific types of websites. They can be easier to reach out to since more niche topics tend to have smaller audiences. So for example, if you’re running a blog that focuses on low FODMAP cooking, look for that kind of opportunity instead of “best food blogs.” 

Final thoughts 

These aren’t the only possible ways to promote your website for free. I do encourage you to experiment and double down on what works. If you think something may work for your audience (and even if it hasn’t been tried before), go for it. But make sure to measure the results. 

Keep in mind that your marketing tactics don’t need to be truly unique to be effective. One of the best places to find promotion ideas will always be your competition and other successful businesses—even if they operate in a different industry. 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter



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SEO

Navigating The SEO Career Landscape: Degrees, Myths, And Realities

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Navigating The SEO Career Landscape: Degrees, Myths, And Realities

In the dynamic realm of search engine optimization (SEO), my career spans nearly two decades, starting in 2004 when I started working for an agency and just two years later moved to in-house SEO for a large company.

Since then, I’ve held various in-house SEO roles at esteemed organizations, including Classmates.com, Concur, Smartsheet, ADP (usedcars.com), Nordstrom, Groupon, GitHub, and my most recent role at RingCentral – experiences which have deepened my understanding of the field and allowed me to shape SEO within different business contexts.

I began my career as an SEO specialist at the agency; my role involved understanding website optimization, keyword research, and refining on-page and off-page strategies.

When I moved to management, I had to understand how to lead a team properly.

As my journey progressed, transitioning to roles like SEO manager involved overseeing SEO strategies, developing comprehensive plans, educating and leading teams, and ensuring alignment with overarching business goals.

These roles collectively form the backbone of SEO, showcasing its dynamism and emphasizing each position’s indispensable role in driving effective digital marketing strategies.

My journey isn’t that much different from that of many SEO professionals, aside from the fact that some SEO pros may decide to stay with an agency or focus on consulting rather than working for another company.

There are so many avenues one could go down when choosing their career path for SEO, so let me help break it down.

SEO Roles

As someone immersed in the SEO field for many years, I fully understand today’s many diverse SEO roles.

Let’s explore these roles, the average salaries in the US, and advice I have for anyone looking to move into these roles, considering both their nuances and the path ahead for aspiring SEO professionals:

SEO Specialist

Embarking on the SEO journey often starts as a specialist. In this entry-level role, one will dig into the complexities of optimizing websites to boost rankings.

As a specialist, my early days involved conducting keyword research, analyzing website performance, and implementing strategies that enhanced organic visibility for clients.

This foundational role serves as a stepping stone to grasp the fundamentals of digital marketing in both the agency and in-house environments.

  • Salary*: $63,699 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Focus on entry-level content optimization, conducting keyword research, and honing on-page and off-page strategies.
  • Advice: This is a great role to grasp the fundamentals, immerse yourself in various facets of digital marketing, and adapt to evolving trends.

SEO Content Strategist

Transitioning to a content strategist role within SEO reveals the creative side of drafting engaging, search-engine-friendly content.

Most SEO pros in this position are expected to sharpen their writing skills and plan and optimize content calendars based on comprehensive keyword research.

As an SEO content strategist, creating informative and captivating content is paramount to retaining readers and adhering to evolving SEO best practices.

Technical SEO Manager

My background in engineering has allowed me to focus heavily on the technical aspects of SEO. The position as a technical SEO manager requires a solid knowledge of coding, engineering processes, and database management.

The role of a technical SEO professional involves handling site structure, indexing, and resolving intricate technical issues that impact search performance.

Responsibilities extend to collaborating with engineering teams, ensuring effective communication, and mitigating risks associated with technical SEO.

This role requires a unique blend of technical acumen and collaborative skills.

  • Salary*: $99,548 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Tackle technical aspects impacting search performance, focusing on site structure, indexing, and technical troubleshooting.
  • Advice: Understand what goes into the development of a website, including the various coding languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java, Python, React, Angular, etc.), database connectivity, and server administration, followed by the specifics of what Google expects and recommends for the benefits of SEO. In addition, SEO pros are expected to cultivate collaboration skills and have a solid understanding of using tools like Botify to aid in effective communication with engineers, which is pivotal for project success and seamless cooperation.

Link Building Specialist

As a link building specialist, the focus shifts to acquiring high-quality backlinks to enhance website authority and rankings.

This role demands persistence in building relationships, performing strategic outreach, and executing link-building strategies.

SEO pros interested in pursuing a career focused on off-site SEO must demonstrate the meticulous effort and specialization required in acquiring valuable links, making this role a dynamic and rewarding part of the SEO landscape.

  • Salary*: $63,699 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Acquire high-quality backlinks from relevant sites to enhance website authority, involving relationship-building and strategic outreach.
  • Advice: Develop persistence and relationship-building skills; the role demands time and specialization in acquiring valuable links while avoiding what could be considered spammy links. It would be very detrimental to a link building specialist’s career if they were to get a website banned by Google for using bad practices.

Local SEO Specialist

Optimizing websites for local searches can be a specialized avenue in any SEO journey.

Local SEO specialists manage local citations and Google My Business profiles and ensure consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data for region-specific platforms.

This role highlights the importance of attention to detail and local nuances for businesses aiming to attract nearby customers.

  • Salary*: $62,852 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Optimize websites for local searches, manage local citations and Google My Business profiles, and ensure NAP data consistency.
  • Advice: Understand the nuances of local SEO; attention to detail and consistency are key for localized online visibility. Learn the various tools available to help manage these listings, such as RenderSEO and Yext.

Ecommerce SEO Product Manager

Working at ecommerce companies brings a unique challenge of its own.

SEO product manager roles require an SEO pro to specialize in optimizing online stores; the focus shifts to product optimization, category pages, site structure, and enhancing user experience.

Balancing SEO knowledge with product management skills becomes essential in navigating this niche, offering both challenges and lucrative opportunities.

  • Salary*: $117,277 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Specialize in optimizing online stores, focusing on product optimization, category pages, and user experience.
  • Advice: Combine SEO knowledge with product management skills; leveling up enhances prospects in this unique and lucrative niche.

SEO Consultant

My role as an SEO consultant involved advising businesses on enhancing online visibility. Analyzing websites, developing customized strategies, and offering guidance on effective SEO became integral.

The SEO consultant role offers relief when I find myself out of work in my in-house roles due to a layoff or if the company culture isn’t a good fit.

While my consulting is a second and infrequent role, many SEO pros decide that consulting is what they prefer to do full-time.

Either way, providing optimization services to companies neglecting SEO is a great way to make a substantial income.

  • Salary*: $63,298 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Advise businesses on improving online visibility, analyzing websites, developing strategies, and offering SEO guidance.
  • Advice: Gain diverse optimization experience; providing services to companies neglecting SEO can yield rapid improvement.

SEO Account Manager

Anyone interested in an SEO account manager role will experience the dynamic facet of serving as a bridge between clients and staff.

Meeting clients to understand their needs and relaying information for improved optimization efforts is the cornerstone of this position.

Performance-driven account managers could earn additional commissions, adding an incentive-driven layer to the role.

  • Salary*: $68,314 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Serve as a company’s point of contact, meeting clients and relaying information for improved optimization efforts.
  • Advice: Understand industry standards; performance-driven account managers can earn additional commissions, boosting income.

SEO Data Analyst

An SEO data analyst role involves collecting and interpreting website performance and search rankings data.

Using tools like Google Analytics, Semrush, and Botify while obtaining knowledge of running SQL queries provides insights to inform strategic decisions.

This role underlines the significance of data analysis, specifically focusing on SEO-related metrics and their implications.

  • Salary*: $76,575 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Collect and interpret website performance and search rankings data, offering insights for strategic decisions.
  • Advice: Know how to run SQL queries and manipulate data in Excel. Focus on SEO-related data analysis and understanding traffic from various search engines to improve decision-making.

SEO Manager

The majority of my roles in my career have been under the SEO manager title.

Those roles involved overseeing entire SEO strategies, developing comprehensive plans, managing teams, and ensuring alignment with overarching business goals. This mid-to-senior-level management position requires a diverse skill set.

  • Salary*: $74,494 per year (Indeed).
  • Duties: Oversee entire SEO strategy, develop comprehensive plans, manage teams, and ensure alignment with business goals.
  • Advice: Understand what it takes to be a team leader. Nurture your team, build relationships in the organization, and articulate the benefits of what you’re asking to accomplish SEO growth. Management books like StrengthsFinder 2.0: Gallup by Don Clifton and Radical Candor by Kim Scott are great resources for becoming a good leader. If an SEO manager can tap into effective communication and leadership, the senior positions can lead to higher earnings of up to $210,000.

Notes:

The salary for the link building and local specialist roles are the same as that of an SEO specialist, since they tend to be at the same level.

In addition, the SEO product manager’s salary is taken from what a standard product manager makes since the roles are very similar.

Also, note that consultants can make upwards of $200,000 per year or more as they decide what to charge clients and how many clients they choose to take on.

*US National average salary reported by Indeed.com as of January 2024

Is SEO A Good Career Choice? Debunking Myths And Realities

Having navigated the dynamic landscape of SEO for over two decades, I have found that, while choosing a career in SEO has been rewarding, there are many things I would have done differently if I had the chance to do it all over again.

The good part about the SEO career path is that it unfolds across various roles, each offering unique challenges and opportunities for growth.

Starting from entry-level positions to assuming leadership roles like SEO manager, professionals gain a diverse skill set and invaluable experience.

However, it’s crucial to understand that the journey rarely leads to executive positions like director of SEO in larger companies and even more rarely to vice president positions.

The salaries of roles that SEO pros work with (i.e., product managers, engineers, growth managers, etc.) are much higher than what SEO pros usually make. So if it’s money you’re after in an SEO career, then you may be on the wrong path.

Agencies often embrace SEO professionals in executive roles, highlighting the need for a blended approach to SEO strategy involving in-house and agency collaboration. Still, the salaries tend to be less than for in-house roles.

Most SEO professionals should begin their journey as specialists and envision their desired position in 5 to 10 years.

If aspirations lean towards engineering, take the initiative to learn to code and acquire the necessary skills expected of an engineer. Collaborate closely with engineering teams, expressing a keen interest in contributing to their projects to transition to an engineering role.

For those eyeing executive roles in large corporations, strategically plan a career trajectory that navigates beyond SEO and aligns with roles leading to executive positions.

Typically, chief marketing officers (CMOs) have backgrounds in product marketing or growth marketing, progressing from directors to VPs in those domains before making the leap to CMO.

While SEO expertise enhances marketability, transitioning from SEO to these roles can be challenging. Therefore, be prepared to undertake the necessary steps to facilitate a smooth transition when the time comes.

For those contemplating an SEO career, embrace the diverse roles within SEO, each contributing to a robust skill set.

Junior roles provide foundational knowledge, strategists refine creativity and analytical abilities, and managers oversee comprehensive SEO plans.

It’s essential to evaluate personal preferences – whether one aspires to be a specialist excelling in a specific area or climb the ladder to managerial roles.

Be aware that large companies might not offer executive SEO positions, leading to the importance of understanding the industry’s dynamics and considering agency opportunities.

Education In SEO: Unveiling The Reality of Degrees

After spending over two decades submerged in SEO, a formal degree is not a prerequisite for a successful career in SEO.

My journey began with college, where I majored in English and Art History. However, realizing the potential in web design and development, I dropped out to focus on freelance work.

The SEO industry thrives on practical skills and hands-on experience, making degrees less significant.

Numerous online resources and guides offer a wealth of information to aid in mastering SEO techniques. It’s a field where continuous learning is integral, and personal initiative often surpasses the value of formal education.

The insights shared by others resonate with my own experiences. SEO is a realm where proven expertise often outshines academic credentials.

The industry includes individuals with diverse educational backgrounds, from MBAs to those without formal education. What matters most is the ability to adapt, learn, and implement effective strategies.

For aspiring SEO professionals, the key lies in taking the initiative, exploring online resources, and gaining practical experience.

Whether starting a business or pursuing a career, hands-on learning and staying updated with industry trends are the real benchmarks of success. While a degree might be a plus, it’s not mandatory for carving a rewarding path in SEO.

The Diverse Paths Of SEO

The potential routes within the SEO career landscape are numerous, starting with opportunities at agencies that provide an excellent learning ground, exposing individuals to various aspects of digital marketing.

Alternatively, one could enter an in-house position at a company where guidance from an experienced SEO professional is crucial.

Freelancing or working as an independent consultant presents another viable option, offering flexibility in the work environment and schedule.

The SEO career path encompasses a spectrum of roles, from entry-level to junior roles, strategists, managers, and senior managers, each with distinctive responsibilities and salary ranges.

Agency

One significant route involves commencing the journey at agencies, which serve as excellent learning grounds.

Working at an agency exposes individuals to various facets of digital marketing, offering a dynamic environment where skills are honed through hands-on experience.

This path allows for a comprehensive understanding of SEO within the broader context of marketing strategies.

In-House

On the other hand, individuals may choose to embark on an in-house position within a company.

The crucial guidance characterizes this path experienced SEO professionals provide in the corporate setting.

The in-house route often entails a deeper integration with the company’s goals and strategies, requiring a specialized skill set tailored to the organization’s needs.

Freelancing

For those inclined towards independence and flexibility, freelancing or working as an independent consultant represents a viable option within the SEO career landscape.

This path allows individuals to shape their work environment and schedules according to personal preferences.

Freelancers have the opportunity to work with a variety of clients, gaining diverse experiences that contribute to their professional growth.

Conclusion

In this exploration of the SEO career landscape, I am reminded of the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of SEO.

From my humble beginnings as a freelance developer optimizing websites to my most recent work as a consultant, each step has presented unique challenges and learning opportunities, adding to my comprehensive grasp of SEO.

These experiences have enriched my understanding of various business environments.

I hope this article helps readers interested in a career in SEO carve out a path for themselves.

More resources: 


Featured Image: New Africa/Shutterstock

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Technical SEO Checklist for 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

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Technical SEO Checklist 2024 Comprehensive Strategies

Technical SEO Checklist 2024 Comprehensive Strategies

With Google getting a whopping total of six algorithmic updates and four core updates in 2023, you can bet the search landscape is more complicated (and competitive) to navigate nowadays.

To succeed in SEO this year, you will need to figure out what items to check and optimize to ensure your website stays visible. And if your goal is to not just make your website searchable, but have it rank at the top of search engine results, this technical SEO checklist for 2024 is essential.

Webmaster’s Note: This is part one of our three-part SEO checklist for 2024. I also have a longer guide on advanced technical SEO, which covers best practices and how to troubleshoot and solve common technical issues with your websites.

Technical SEO Essentials for 2024

Technical SEO refers to optimizations that are primarily focused on helping search engines access, crawl, interpret, and index your website without any issues. It lays the foundation for your site to be properly understood and served up by search engines to users.

1. Website Speed Optimization

A site’s loading speed is a significant ranking factor for search engines like Google, which prioritize user experience. Faster websites generally provide a more pleasant user experience, leading to increased engagement and improved conversion rates.

Server Optimization

Often, the reason why your website is loading slowly is because of the server it’s hosted on. It’s important to choose a high-quality server that ensures quick loading times from the get-go so you skip the headache that is server optimization.

Google recommends keeping your server response time under 200ms. To check your server’s response time, you need to know your website’s IP address. Once you have that, use your command prompt.

In the window that appears, type ping, followed by your website’s IP address. Press enter and the window should show how long it took your server to respond. 

If you find that your server goes above the recommended 200ms loading time, here’s what you need to check:

  1. Collect the data from your server and identify what is causing your response time to increase. 
  2. Based on what is causing the problem, you will need to implement server-side optimizations. This guide on how to reduce initial server response times can help you here.
  3. Measure your server response times after optimization to use as a benchmark. 
  4. Monitor any regressions after optimization.

If you work with a hosting service, then you should contact them when you need to improve server response times. A good hosting provider should have the right infrastructure, network connections, server hardware, and support services to accommodate these optimizations. They may also offer hosting options if your website needs more server resources to run smoothly.

Website Optimization

Aside from your server, there are a few other reasons that your website might be loading slowly. 

Here are some practices you can do:

  1. Compressing images to decrease file sizes without sacrificing quality
  2. Minimizing the code, eliminating unnecessary spaces, comments, and indentation.
  3. Using caching to store some data locally in a user’s browser to allow for quicker loading on subsequent visits.
  4. Implementing Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute the load, speeding up access for users situated far from the server.
  5. Lazy load your web pages to prioritize loading the objects or resources only your users need.

A common tool to evaluate your website speed is Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Google Lighthouse. Both tools can analyze the content of your website and then generate suggestions to improve its overall loading speed, all for free. There are also some third-party tools, like GTMetrix, that you could use as well.

Here’s an example of one of our website’s speeds before optimization. It’s one of the worst I’ve seen, and it was affecting our SEO.

slow site speed score from GTMetrixslow site speed score from GTMetrix

So we followed our technical SEO checklist. After working on the images, removing render-blocking page elements, and minifying code, the score greatly improved — and we saw near-immediate improvements in our page rankings. 

site speed optimization results from GTMetrixsite speed optimization results from GTMetrix

That said, playing around with your server settings, coding, and other parts of your website’s backend can mess it up if you don’t know what you’re doing. I suggest backing up all your files and your database before you start working on your website speed for that reason. 

2. Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first Indexing is a method used by Google that primarily uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. 

It’s no secret that Google places a priority on the mobile users’ experience, what with mobile-first indexing being used. Beyond that, optimizing your website for mobile just makes sense, given that a majority of people now use their phones to search online.

This change signifies that a fundamental shift in your approach to your website development and design is needed, and it should also be part of your technical SEO checklist.

  1. Ensuring the mobile version of your site contains the same high-quality, rich content as the desktop version.
  2. Make sure metadata is present on both versions of your site.
  3. Verify that structured data is present on both versions of your site.

Tools like Google’s mobile-friendly test can help you measure how effectively your mobile site is performing compared to your desktop versions, and to other websites as well.

3. Crawlability & Indexing Check

Always remember that crawlability and Indexing are the cornerstones of SEO. Crawlability refers to a search engine’s ability to access and crawl through a website’s content. Indexing is how search engines organize information after a crawl and before presenting results.

  1. Utilizing a well-structured robots.txt file to communicate with web crawlers about which of your pages should not be processed or scanned.
  2. Using XML sitemaps to guide search engines through your site’s content and ensure that all valuable content is found and indexed. There are several CMS plugins you can use to generate your sitemap.
  3. Ensuring that your website has a logical structure with a clear hierarchy, helps both users and bots navigate to your most important pages easily. 

Google Search Console is the tool you need to use to ensure your pages are crawled and indexed by Google. It also provides reports that identify any problems that prevent crawlers from indexing your pages. 

4. Structured Data Markup

Structured Data Markup is a coding language that communicates website information in a more organized and richer format to search engines. This plays a strategic role in the way search engines interpret and display your content, enabling enhanced search results through “rich snippets” such as stars for reviews, prices for products, or images for recipes.

Doing this allows search engines to understand and display extra information directly in the search results from it.

Key Takeaway

With all the algorithm changes made in 2023, websites need to stay adaptable and strategic to stay at the top of the search results page. Luckily for you, this technical SEO checklist for 2024 can help you do just that. Use this as a guide to site speed optimization, indexing, and ensuring the best experience for mobile and desktop users.

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Why Google Seems To Favor Big Brands & Low-Quality Content

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Why Google Seems To Favor Big Brands & Low-Quality Content

Many people are convinced that Google shows a preference for big brands and ranking low quality content, something that many feel has become progressively worse. This may not be a matter of perception, something is going on, nearly everyone has an anecdote of poor quality search results. The possible reasons for it are actually quite surprising.

Google Has Shown Favoritism In The Past

This isn’t the first time that Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) have shown a bias that favored big brand websites. During the early years of Google’s algorithm it was obvious that sites with a lot of PageRank ranked for virtually anything they wanted.

For example, I remember a web design company that built a lot of websites, creating a network of backlinks, raising their PageRank to a remarkable level normally seen only in big corporate sites like IBM. As a consequence they ranked for the two-word keyword phrase, Web Design and virtually every other variant like Web Design + [any state in the USA].

Everyone knew that websites with a PageRank of 10, the highest level shown on Google’s toolbar, practically had a free pass in the SERPs, resulting in big brand sites outranking more relevant webpages. It didn’t go unnoticed when Google eventually adjusted their algorithm to fix this issue.

The point of this anecdote is to point out an instance of where Google’s algorithm unintentionally created a bias that favored big brands.

Here are are other  algorithm biases that publishers exploited:

  • Top 10 posts
  • Longtail “how-to” articles
  • Misspellings
  • Free Widgets in footer that contained links (always free to universities!)

Big Brands And Low Quality Content

There are two things that have been a constant for all of Google’s history:

  • Low quality content
  • Big brands crowding out small independent publishers

Anyone that’s ever searched for a recipe knows that the more general the recipe the lower the quality of recipe that gets ranked. Search for something like cream of chicken soup and the main ingredient for nearly every recipe is two cans of chicken soup.

A search for Authentic Mexican Tacos results in recipes with these ingredients:

  • Soy sauce
  • Ground beef
  • “Cooked chicken”
  • Taco shells (from the store!)
  • Beer

Not all recipe SERPs are bad. But some of the more general recipes Google ranks are so basic that a hobo can cook them on a hotplate.

Robin Donovan (Instagram), a cookbook author and online recipe blogger observed:

“I think the problem with google search rankings for recipes these days (post HCU) are much bigger than them being too simple.

The biggest problem is that you get a bunch of Reddit threads or sites with untested user-generated recipes, or scraper sites that are stealing recipes from hardworking bloggers.

In other words, content that is anything but “helpful” if what you want is a tested and well written recipe that you can use to make something delicious.”

Explanations For Why Google’s SERPs Are Broken

It’s hard not to get away from the perception that Google’s rankings for a variety of topics always seem to default to big brand websites and low quality webpages.

Small sites grow to become big brands that dominate the SERPs, it happens. But that’s the thing, even when a small site gets big, it’s now another big brand dominating the SERPs.

Typical explanations for poor SERPs:

  • It’s a conspiracy to increase ad clicks
  • Content itself these days are low quality across the board
  • Google doesn’t have anything else to rank
  • It’s the fault of SEOs
  • Affiliates
  • Poor SERPs is Google’s scheme to drive more ad clicks
  • Google promotes big brands because [insert your conspiracy]

So what’s going on?

People Love Big Brands & Garbage Content

The recent Google anti-trust lawsuit exposed the importance of the Navboost algorithm signals as a major ranking factor. Navboost is an algorithm that interprets user engagement signals to understand what topics a webpage is relevant for, among other things.

The idea of using engagement signals as an indicator of what users expect to see makes sense. After all, Google is user-centric and who better to decide what’s best for users than the users themselves, right?

Well, consider that arguably the the biggest and most important song of 1991, Smells Like Teen Spirt by Nirvana, didn’t make the Billboard top 100 for that year. Michael Bolton and Rod Stewart made the list twice, with Rod Stewart top ranked for a song called “The Motown Song” (anyone remember that one?)

Nirvana didn’t make the charts until the next year…

My opinion, given that we know that user interactions are a strong ranking signal, is that Google’s search rankings follow a similar pattern related to users’ biases.

People tend to choose what they know. It’s called a Familiarity Bias.

Consumers have a habit of choosing things that are familiar over those that are unfamiliar. This preference shows up in product choices that prefer brands, for example.

Behavioral scientist, Jason Hreha, defines Familiarity Bias like this:

“The familiarity bias is a phenomenon in which people tend to prefer familiar options over unfamiliar ones, even when the unfamiliar options may be better. This bias is often explained in terms of cognitive ease, which is the feeling of fluency or ease that people experience when they are processing familiar information. When people encounter familiar options, they are more likely to experience cognitive ease, which can make those options seem more appealing.”

Except for certain queries (like those related to health), I don’t think Google makes an editorial decision to certain kinds of websites, like brands.

Google uses many signals for ranking. But Google is strongly user focused.

I believe it’s possible that strong user preferences can carry a more substantial weight than Reviews System signals. How else to explain why Google seemingly has a bias for big brand websites with fake reviews rank better than honest independent review sites?

It’s not like Google’s algorithms haven’t created poor search results in the past.

  • Google’s Panda algorithm was designed to get rid of a bias for cookie cutter content.
  • The Reviews System is a patch to fix Google’s bias for content that’s about reviews but aren’t necessarily reviews.

If Google has systems for catching low quality sites that their core algorithm would otherwise rank, why do big brands and poor quality content still rank?

I believe the answer is that is what users prefer to see those sites, as indicated by user interaction signals.

The big question to ask is whether Google will continue to rank what users biases and inexperience trigger user satisfaction signals.  Or will Google continue serving the sugar-frosted bon-bons that users crave?

Should Google make the choice to rank quality content at the risk that users find it too hard to understand?

Or should publishers give up and focus on creating for the lowest common denominator like the biggest popstars do?



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