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8 White Hat SEO Techniques To Double Your Search Traffic

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8 White Hat SEO Techniques To Double Your Search Traffic

Stuck in a cycle of optimizations that don’t move the needle?

This post reveals white hat techniques that can potentially double, triple, or even 10x your traffic from organic search.

The Google system for ranking websites incorporates a series of algorithms designed to give the “best” results.

These algorithms take into consideration many factors, including the words in a query, relevance, page usability, source expertise, geo-location, and settings.

Furthermore, the weighting of these factors is dependent on the nature of a query.

For current topics, freshness carries a lot of weight.

For a dictionary type definition, the page trust and authority play a larger role.

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To ensure the algorithms are functioning as intended, Google employs an army of Quality Raters.

They follow strict guidelines developed by Google to ensure the algorithm output matches the standards established for Page Quality and Needs Met. These guidelines are a must-read for anyone serious about building a top-performing website.

According to Google, their search algorithm looks at five key factors in determining which results appear at the top of their search results:

  • Meaning of your query.
  • Relevance of webpages.
  • Quality of content.
  • Usability of webpages.
  • Context and settings.

By addressing these five factors, you will be putting yourself in a position to outperform the competition. Here are some specific tips on how to do it:

1. Mobile First

I first began promoting a “mobile-first” approach to SEO back in March of 2015, after dubbing Google’s pending mobile update “mobilegeddon.”

The name caught on, but on April 21, 2015, the update didn’t create as big an upheaval as expected at the time.

It did, however, put everyone on notice, that mobile was here and no longer “the future.” Those who did not heed the warning to go mobile later paid the price.

Today, Google is all-in on mobile.

If you aren’t certain as to whether your website meets the criteria for being mobile-friendly, log in to your Search Console account and view the Mobile Usability Report.

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Google will report mobile issues there, so you can take the appropriate actions to come into compliance.

2. Claim Your Business Listing

Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, is a free business listing.

Business Profiles show up in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. If your business has a physical location or travels to customers, you can create a Business Profile on Google.

Top 5 Google Business Profile Benefits

  1. It’s FREE advertising – cheaper than paid search and faster than SEO.
  2. Google Maps/3-Pack favors geographically relevant businesses.
  3. An optimized profile makes a good first impression.
  4. A good star rating builds trust and provides social proof.
  5. The ability to check profile performance & gain insights.

As Google continues to improve its ability to deliver hyper-local results, it is critically important to have complete and accurate data in one’s Google Business Profile.

This continues to be an easy win, as many businesses have yet to even claim their listing.

3. Improve Your Page Experience

Google’s page experience is defined by a set of signals which are designed to measure how users react to a webpage. This measurement goes beyond basic information value.

It utilizes  Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics that measure page loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability, as well as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

How Does Page Experience Affect Rankings?

In cases where several pages may satisfy the search criteria for relevance, page experience carries more weight.

A page that delivers sought-after information still trumps a page with less relevance, but a better page experience.

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In short, page experience can be the SERP tiebreaker.

4. Focus On User Experience (UX)

Google has always encouraged webmasters to make their primary focus one of providing a good user experience.

As the algorithm gets “smarter,” websites that do so are positioned to benefit the most. A good user experience goes much deeper than writing clean code.

According to this study from the Oxford Journal, “The goal of UX design in business is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”

For our purposes, your website is the product. The objective is to first determine a user’s intent, then develop a methodology for smooth navigation – a methodology that evokes a positive emotion and leads to an overall good experience.

Incorporating UX best practices is easy. The web is filled with templates and advice.

What separates the pros from the amateurs is A/B testing.

Each one of us has our own biases that will influence how a webpage is constructed.

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By running a series of experiments, you will be able to quantify what is working, and what isn’t, and continue testing until you get it right.

5. Do Your Keyword Research

That’s right – keyword research is still important.

With Google providing less keyword data, third parties like Ahrefs and Semrush have developed their own keyword tools to fill the void.

However, the way that one goes about performing and using the results from keyword research has changed, thanks to RankBrain and BERT.

At its core, RankBrain is machine learning. This allows Google to put things in context rather than rely solely on strings of metadata. Google now understands language nuances like stemming, synonyms, and answers.

BERT is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

The primary goal is to deliver better search results for longer and more conversational searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” affect the context of a query.

At the time of launch in October 2019, Google projected that BERT would impact 10% of all searches in the United States.

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The new generation of keyword tools takes this into consideration by generating relevant data like Parent Topics, Keyword Groups, and Search Intent.

Armed with this information, users can develop contextually relevant content.

6. Have A Well-Rounded Content Marketing Plan

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 51% of all respondents report that it’s more difficult to capture the audience’s attention today than it was just a year ago.

Since content is one of the top Google ranking factors, it’s important to get it right. Once again, this presents a huge opportunity for those willing to invest the time to make that happen.

Everyone talks about creating “great content,” but what does that even mean?

It really comes down to having useful content, finding the right audience, and then reaching that audience.

This doesn’t have to be a difficult exercise. It boils down to having empathy with your prospects and customers. Ann Handley created the following formula to sum it up:

Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired = Innovative Content

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Great content comes in many different forms. A well-rounded content marketing plan will include a combination of the following:

  • Blogs.
  • Data-driven visuals (Original Research).
  • Images.
  • Infographics.
  • SlideShare presentations.
  • Videos.

7. Pay Attention To On-Page Optimization

Did you know that Google publishes its own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide? You do now.

Despite its name, this guide is a great resource for everyone looking to maximize their chances of appearing in Google search results.

The guide covers key on-page basics, including the best practices for optimizing:

  1. Page Titles.
  2. Headers.
  3. Meta Descriptions.
  4. Image Alt-text.
  5. Structured Markup.
  6. Page URLs.
  7. Internal Linking.

Additional resources for improving on-page optimization:

8. Link Building Supercharges All Other Efforts

The day may come when links are less important to rankings, but that day hasn’t arrived yet. The key is to get the right kinds of links.

Links that have relevance to your site. Links that require a human editorial review. The kinds of links that are earned.

My favorite approach to earning relevant links is to build a resource center. A resource center can work on just about any kind of website. In addition to attracting links, a good resource center helps to build trust and authority.

Learn about this approach and more by downloading  Link Building for SEO: A Complete Guide.

The Bottom Line

Organic search is a game of inches. There is no single best way to dominate the SERPs. But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.

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If you just focus on the eight areas presented above, you can double, triple, or even 10x your traffic.

More Resources:


Featured Image: goodbishop/Shutterstock

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

Creating and selling educational courses can be a lucrative business. But if you already have a product to sell, you can actually use courses as a marketing tool.

Back in 2017, about two years after joining Ahrefs, I decided to create a course on content marketing.

I had a very clear understanding of how an educational course would help me promote Ahrefs.

  • People like courses – Folks like Brian Dean and Glen Allsopp were selling theirs for $500 to $2,000 a pop (and rather successfully). So a free course of comparable quality was sure to get attention.
  • Courses allow for a deeper connection – You would basically be spending a few hours one on one with your students. And if you managed to win their trust, you’d get an opportunity to promote your product to them.

That was my raw thought process going into this venture.

And I absolutely didn’t expect that the lifespan of my course would be as interesting and nuanced as it turned out to be.

The lessons of my course have generated over 500K+ in total views, brought in mid-five-figures in revenue (without even trying), and turned out to be a very helpful resource for our various marketing purposes.

So here goes the story of my “Blogging for Business” course.

1. The creation

I won’t give you any tips on how to create a successful course (well, maybe just one). There are plenty of resources (courses?) on that topic already.

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All I want to say is that my own experience was quite grueling.

The 10 lessons of my course span some 40K words. I have never attempted the feat of writing a book, but I imagine creating such a lengthy course is as close as it gets.

Scripts of the course in Google Docs.

I spent a tremendous amount of time polishing each lesson. The course was going to be free, so it was critical that my content was riveting. If not, people would just bounce from it.

Paid courses are quite different in that sense. You pay money to watch them. So even if the content is boring at times, you’ll persevere anyway to ensure a return on your investment.

When I showed the draft version of the course to my friend, Ali Mese, he gave me a simple yet invaluable tip: “Break your lessons into smaller ones. Make each just three to four minutes long.”

How did I not think of this myself? 

Short, “snackable” lessons provide a better sense of completion and progress. You’re also more likely to finish a short lesson without getting distracted by something. 

I’m pretty sure that it is because of this simple tip that my course landed this Netflix comparison (i.e., best compliment ever):

2. The strategy

With the prices of similar courses ranging from $500 to $2,000, it was really tempting to make some profit with ours.

I think we had around 15,000 paying customers at Ahrefs at that time (and many more on the free plan). So if just 1% of them bought that course for $1K, that would be an easy $150K to pocket. And then we could keep upselling it to our future customers.

Alternatively, we thought about giving access to the course to our paying customers only. 

This might have boosted our sales, since the course was a cool addition to the Ahrefs subscription. 

And it could also improve user retention. The course was a great training resource for new employees, which our customers would lose access to if they canceled their Ahrefs subscription.

And yet, releasing it for free as a lead acquisition and lead nurturing play seemed to make a lot more sense than the other two options. So we stuck to that.

3. The waitlist

Teasing something to people before you let them get it seems like one of the fundamental rules of marketing.

  • Apple announces new products way before they’re available in stores. 
  • Movie studios publish trailers of upcoming movies months (sometimes years) before they hit the theaters. 
  • When you have a surprise for your significant other (or your kids), you can’t help but give them some hints before the reveal.

There’s something about “the wait” and the anticipation that we humans just love to experience.

So while I was toiling away and putting lessons of my course together, we launched a landing page to announce it and collect people’s emails.

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The landing page of the course.

In case someone hesitated to leave their email, we had two cool bonuses to nudge them:

  1. Access to the private Slack community
  2. Free two-week trial of Ahrefs

The latter appealed to freebie lovers so much that it soon “leaked” to Reddit and BlackHatWorld. In hindsight, this leak was actually a nice (unplanned) promo for the course.

4. The promotion

I don’t remember our exact promotion strategy. But I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

I also added a little “sharing loop” to the welcome email. I asked people to tell their friends about the course, justifying it with the fact that taking the course with others was more fun than doing it alone.

Welcome email with a "sharing loop."

I have no idea how effective that “growth hack” was, but there was no reason not to encourage sharing.

In total, we managed to get some 16,000 people on our waitlist by the day of the course launch.

5. The launch

On a set date, the following email went out to our waitlist:

Course launch email.

Did you notice the “note” saying that the videos were only available for free for 30 days? We did that to nudge people to watch them as soon as possible and not save them to the “Watch later” folder.

In retrospect, I wish we had used this angle from the very beginning: “FREE for 30 days. Then $799.”

This would’ve killed two birds with one stone: 

  1. Added an urgency to complete the course as soon as possible
  2. Made the course more desirable by assigning a specific (and rather high) monetary value to it

(If only we could be as smart about predicting the future as we are about reflecting on the past.) 

Once it was live, the course started to promote itself. I was seeing many super flattering tweets:

We then took the most prominent of those tweets and featured them on the course landing page for some social proof. (They’re still there, by the way.)

6. The paywall

Once the 30 days of free access ran out, we added a $799 paywall. And it didn’t take long for the first sale to arrive:

This early luck didn’t push us to focus on selling this course, though. We didn’t invest any effort into promoting it. It was just sitting passively in our Academy with a $799 price tag, and that was it.

And yet, despite the lack of promotion, that course was generating 8-10 sales every month—which were mostly coming from word of mouth.

A comment in TrafficThinkTank.
Eric Siu giving a shout-out about my course in TTT Slack.

Thanks to its hefty price, my course soon appeared on some popular websites with pirated courses. And we were actually glad that it did. Because that meant more people would learn about our content and product.

Then some people who were “late to the party” started asking me if I was ever going to reopen the course for free again. This actually seemed like a perfectly reasonable strategy at the time:

7. The giveaways

That $799 price tag also turned my free course into a pretty useful marketing tool. It was a perfect gift for all sorts of giveaways on Twitter, on podcasts, during live talks, and so on.

Giving away the course during a live talk.
Me giving away the course during a live talk.

And whenever we partnered with someone, they were super happy to get a few licenses of the course, which they could give out to their audience.

8. The relaunch

Despite my original plan to update and relaunch this course once a year, I got buried under other work and didn’t manage to find time for it.

And then the pandemic hit. 

That’s when we noticed a cool trend. Many companies were providing free access to their premium educational materials. This was done to support the “stay at home” narrative and help people learn new skills.

I think it was SQ who suggested that we should jump on that train with my “Blogging for Business” course. And so we did:

We couldn’t have hoped for a better timing for that relaunch. The buzz was absolutely insane. The announcement tweet alone has generated a staggering 278K+ impressions (not without some paid boosts, of course).

The statistics of the course announcement tweet.

We also went ahead and reposted that course on ProductHunt once again (because why not?).

All in all, that relaunch turned out to be even more successful than the original launch itself. 

In the course of their lifespan on Wistia, the 40 video lessons of my course generated a total of 372K plays.

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Play count from Wistia.

And this isn’t even the end of it.

9. The launch on YouTube

Because the course was now free, it no longer made sense to host it at Wistia. So we uploaded all lessons to YouTube and made them public.

To date, the 41 videos of my course have generated about 187K views on YouTube.

"Blogging for Business" course playlist.

It’s fair to mention that we had around 200,000 subscribers on our channel at the time of publishing my course there. A brand-new channel with no existing subscribers will likely generate fewer views.

10. The relaunch on YouTube [coming soon]

Here’s an interesting observation that both Sam and I made at around the same time. 

Many people were publishing their courses on YouTube as a single video spanning a few hours rather than cutting them into individual lessons like we did. And those long videos were generating millions of views!

Like these two, ranking at the top for “learn Python course,” which have 33M and 27M views, respectively:

"Learn python course" search on YouTube.

So we decided to run a test with Sam’s “SEO for Beginners” course. It was originally published on YouTube as 14 standalone video lessons and generated a total of 140K views.

Well, the “single video” version of that same course has blown it out of the water with over 1M views as of today.

I’m sure you can already tell where I’m going with this.

We’re soon going to republish my “Blogging for Business” course on YouTube as a single video. And hopefully, it will perform just as well.

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The end

So that’s the story of my “Blogging for Business” course. From the very beginning, it was planned as a promotional tool for Ahrefs. And judging by its performance, I guess it fulfilled its purpose rather successfully.

A screenshot of a Slack message.

Don’t get me wrong, though. 

The fact that my course was conceived as a promotional tool doesn’t mean that I didn’t pour my heart and soul into it. It was a perfectly genuine and honest attempt to create a super useful educational resource for content marketing newbies.

And I’m still hoping to work on the 2.0 version of it someday. In the past four years, I have accrued quite a bit more content marketing knowledge that I’m keen to share with everyone. So follow me on Twitter, and stay tuned.



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