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Finding Keywords for Content No One Else Has



Finding Keywords for Content No One Else Has

In the rapidly evolving world of SEO, staying ahead of the curve is critical.

Traditional SEO focuses on optimizing for keywords and topics directly related to your business.

However, as markets become increasingly saturated, new strategies are needed to stand out and reach a broader audience. That’s where tangential SEO comes in.

Tangential SEO involves creating and optimizing content for topics that are tangentially related to your core business. This allows you to engage with audiences who may not be actively looking for your products or services but who could still find them relevant or useful.

It is a strategy designed to build brand visibility, establish authority, attract a wider audience, and ultimately drive more traffic to your site.

Whether you’re a content marketer seeking to diversify your strategy, a business owner aiming to extend your online reach, or a newcomer to the field eager to learn, this guide is for you.

Not only will I explain what tangential content is at a broader level, but I’ll also show you how we find alternative keywords using untraditional methods.

You’ll have a methodology for finding keywords none of your competitors have even thought about.


Let’s begin.

What Is “Tangential Content”?

Quite simply, tangential content is content that is not directly related to your product or service offering.

For example, instead of only focusing on sportswear, Nike might generate content around topics like music playlists for different moods or workout routines, exploring various global music trends.

It could even discuss urban design and its impact on outdoor physical activities. These are topics not directly related to Nike’s products but themes that would likely resonate with its audience.

Let’s give some more examples for context:

  • Starbucks: Beyond coffee, Starbucks could create content discussing books and literature, considering that many people enjoy reading while sipping its coffee. The brand could start a book club, share reviews, and host author interviews.
  • Apple: Apple might deviate from its technology-centered content to explore topics like interior design, highlighting aesthetic and minimalistic arrangements that complement its devices or discussing how different spaces foster productivity and creativity.
  • IKEA: While primarily focused on furniture, IKEA could develop content around topics like urban gardening, offering tips for creating green spaces in small city apartments, or sharing recipes to create using limited kitchen tools.

Why Create Tangential Content?

Creating tangential content can have numerous benefits, particularly when it comes to reaching a wider audience, building brand authority, and improving SEO performance.

As a food lover, I wanted to try and squeeze a food analogy in, so I’m going to do it here. Let’s consider the benefits of creating tangential content as a master chef in the culinary world.

  • Broader audience reach: Just like a versatile chef caters to various palates, tangential content allows your brand to cater to a wider audience – which is especially important for weirder or more abstract niches.
  • Increased engagement: Changing up the menu keeps diners interested, just like a variety of content can keep your audience engaged. By showing that your brand can whip up more than just the standard fare, you’re demonstrating a deeper understanding of your audience’s diverse tastes.
  • Building brand authority: When you create a variety of dishes, you prove your culinary skills beyond your signature dish. Similarly, creating content on a range of topics positions your brand as an authority in your field, enhancing your reputation and influence.
  • Creating more emotional content and aligning with customer lifestyle: Tangential content is akin to designing a themed dining experience that aligns with your customer’s lifestyles and preferences. For instance, if you know your customers are environmentally conscious, you might focus on farm-to-table ingredients or share stories of local farmers. This not only provides content that resonates emotionally but also aligns your brand more closely with your customer’s values and lifestyles.
  • Link building: Just as a unique fusion dish might get rave reviews and recommendations, tangential content often has a higher potential to be shared, earning you backlinks from various domains. These backlinks boost your site’s authority, much like word-of-mouth boosts a restaurant’s reputation.
  • SEO performance: By offering a variety of dishes, you’re catering to more tastes and attracting more diners. Similarly, by covering a range of topics, you’re likely to rank for more keywords, attracting more organic traffic to your website.

While the benefits of publishing tangential content are clear, don’t overlook the value in the research process itself.

The analogy continues like so: consider researching tangential content ideas similar to the time a chef spends experimenting in the kitchen and interacting with their customers.

It’s during this phase that the chef discovers which dishes their customers can’t get enough of, which ones they’re not too fond of, and what cuisine they’re yearning to try next.

In the same way, when you research diverse topics for your tangential content, you’re not only gathering material for your next post – you’re also gaining a broader understanding of your customers’ unmet needs or interests.

This insight is just as valuable, if not more so, as it can guide the development of new products, services, or post-purchase support articles.

So, even before you’ve served up your tangential content to your audience, the research phase itself can help you refine your ‘menu,’ making your brand more attuned to your customers’ tastes and more valuable in their eyes.

Hopefully, the hokey simile made sense, hasn’t made you hungry, and you’re sold on the concept of tangential content.

I’ll now show you how we generate tangential content ideas.

How To Generate Tangential Content Ideas?

To walk through the following process, I’m going to use an example as if I was doing this research for a fictional hair removal company.

Step 1: Establish Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are essentially fictional representations of your ideal customers, often based on real data and market research about your existing customers. They help us understand our customers (and potential customers) better and make it easier for us to “get into their minds.”

These personas can include information such as demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, goals, challenges, values, and fears.

Sometimes your marketing department will already have one of these, but if they don’t, you could ask our new friend, ChatGPT, to produce one.

Step 2: Create A Mind Map

A mind map typically starts with a central idea, placed in the middle of your page. From this central idea, you’ll draw lines that branch out into main topics.

It’s like a tree sprouting branches.

These main branches can further sprout smaller branches, each representing related subtopics or ideas.

In our scenario, we’ll plant the name of the buyer persona as the seed of our mind map. From there, we’ll let branches grow out, each representing key values, aspirations, preferences, and hobbies that we’ve identified for this persona.

Remember, this isn’t the stage for keyword research; there’s no need to think about keyword volume data. This is more about emptying out your mind and exploring potential questions this persona might have.

This process is about trying to see the world through their eyes.

If you find that you’re not the best match for this persona – for example, if the persona is a 28-year-old woman and you’re not a 28-year-old woman (as I am not) – then it could be beneficial to bring in someone who aligns more closely with the persona.

This way, you can ensure you’re covering all bases and not missing any important insights.

In any case, here’s one I started doing for a persona I called “Sarah Thompson.”



Also, it’s wise to create several mind maps to cater to different segments of your target audience.

For instance, when I analyzed a renowned hair removal company’s website data using Similarweb, I discovered a substantial interest from males in hair removal.

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else Has

As a bald male, I had to confront my own biases that initially made me overlook a significant demographic. To make the most of this exercise, it’s crucial that you don’t let your personal biases cloud your judgment.

In light of my realization, I did create a mind map for the male audience, following the same steps. However, to avoid repetition, I won’t detail that process again.

Always remember: diversity in perspectives can enrich your content strategy!

Step 3: Find The Data To Support Ideas

This is where the fun begins! I simply take all the questions I’ve brainstormed in my mind map and pop them into Google to see what surfaces.

If you take a look at the screenshot below, you’ll see that my initial search query doesn’t have any search volume (highlighted in the red box).

Despite this, Google still fetches a bunch of relevant results. Interestingly, each of these results does rank for a certain number of keywords, as indicated by the green boxes.

So, even without search volume for the initial query, there’s still relevant content out there capturing people’s interest.

Screenshot for search on Google for wax strips queryScreenshot for search for [are wax strips vegan], Google, May 2023

You’re going to want to gather all these keywords. Honestly, this is where I find the Ahrefs toolbar to be a gem.

It allows me to click on each search result and conveniently export the keywords associated with each one. This makes the whole process much more streamlined and efficient.


Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else Has

Of course, you don’t need Ahrefs for this; there are other great tools to get the keywords for each URL. I just find the toolbar incredibly useful here.

Step 4: Rinse And Repeat With Each Of Your Content Ideas

You’ll want to enter each of your ideas into Google and get all the keywords for the articles that rank – even if your original query had no search volume.

keyword insights question image

Step 5: Find Additional Keywords None Of Your Competitors Will Have

At this point, you should have a list of keywords that are tangentially related to your target brand.

These keywords correspond to the questions and pain points of your buyer persona, providing a strong foundation for content that’s relevant and engaging for your target audience.

But because you’ve downloaded these keywords from an SEO tools database, your competitors have them, too.

They may not be your direct competitors, but someone has them (otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to get them from the SEO tool).

So how do we get the keywords no one has? We need to seek additional sources of inspiration.

I generally turn to forums or late UGC sites. Why? Dynamic forums like Reddit and Quora have a huge user base, all of whom are asking questions that many of them can’t find the answers to elsewhere online.

On forums like Reddit, we can zero in on specific topics and subreddits to surface popular questions that get a lot of engagement.

Reddit home pageScreenshot from Reddit, May 2023

Keep in mind that many individuals resort to forums to seek answers to questions that the internet doesn’t readily provide.

On user-generated content (UGC) sites, the same question can be phrased in countless ways, which means conventional keyword tools might not capture this diversity.

Now, if you find a slew of keywords phrased differently but asking the same question, all registering as “zero volume” yet showing substantial engagement (in the form of likes, upvotes, shares, etc.), can we truly label them as zero volume?

I’d argue most certainly not. There’s clearly an active interest and engagement there, and that’s what truly matters.

Back to our hair removal example. There were also thousands of unanswered questions and ideas on Quora.

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else HasScreenshot from Reddit May 2023

Anyway, we want all these “keywords” too.

The easiest and quickest way is to make a little scraper that searches for keywords and pulls all these. There are plenty of Python libraries for the more “well-known” forums, like this one for Quora and this guide for Reddit.

If you’re not inclined towards coding, don’t have the skills, or perhaps the niche you’re exploring doesn’t readily present good ideas on major forums, there’s a solution for you.

Chrome extensions like Scraper are excellent tools for this. You can simply right-click and use it to scrape all the relevant questions.

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else HasScreenshot from Quora May 2023

Step 6 (Optional): Use AI To Make The Questions Less “Chatty”

Of course, when people ask questions on forums, they word them in weird, colloquial ways with misspellings and local abbreviations. We can use ChatGPT here again to make all of our scraped questions “less chatty.”

Use the following prompt to make them more readable:

“Reword the following Reddit questions and reword them into a simple question. Please present the results in a table”

ChatGPT table of simplified questionsScreenshot from ChatGPT, May 2023

This particular example isn’t the most exciting I’ve ever encountered, as all the questions sort of made sense in their original state without the AI.

Reflecting back again on the time we did this exercise for the condom brand, the quirks were countless. We had a plethora of strange abbreviations and peculiar phrasings, and the AI’s knack for “translating” these into coherent questions was incredibly beneficial.

Step 7 (Optional): Get All The Related Questions, Too

Once I’ve got all my forum questions, normalized or not (this step still works without using AI to make the questions more “sensical”), I like to get all the related questions too.

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else HasScreenshot from People Also Asked May 2023

There are plenty of tools and ways to scrape these for every keyword in your dataset. I personally like to use People Also Asked, as you can bulk upload to it.

Step 8: Get The Search Volumes For All Your New Queries

The keyword data you’ve downloaded from your go-to SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush will already include search volumes, so there’s no need to fuss over those.

However, all the fresh queries that you’ve discovered should also be plugged into an SEO tool to check if they hold any search volume.

This batch includes any of the keywords you extracted (and potentially standardized using AI), as well as any related People Also Ask questions that surfaced during your research.

Don’t worry if many of the queries show no volume; in fact, that’s to be expected. As we’ve already touched on, you’ll notice the same question is frequently asked, just worded in a variety of different ways.

Pair that with the fact that many of these questions tend to gather significant engagement on social platforms, and you’ll realize these so-called “zero volume” keywords aren’t truly “zero volume.”

To spot these repeating questions, we need a quick way to group similar queries together.

Step 9: Cluster Your Keywords

Grouping keywords together, or clustering, helps us organize our data. It turns a potentially overwhelming list of keywords into smaller, more manageable groups.

By clustering keywords, we can better understand which pages to create and pinpoint recurring questions within those elusive “zero volume” keywords.

There are many keyword clustering tools out there, but ensure you use one which clusters keywords by the search engine results and not natural language processing.

The former ensures you’re grouping keywords based on how a search engine understands them, not a language model.

Most clustering tools require you to upload a single CSV, meaning you may have to go through and combine all your reports at this stage. If all the columns match up, you could use an online CSV merging tool like this.

Remember to de-duplicate the keywords, too, so that you don’t have double data in there.

If you opt for Keyword Insights as your clustering tool, it offers you the freedom to upload any number of CSVs, regardless of whether the columns align.

The tool will guide you in mapping out the columns. Additionally, it conveniently de-duplicates the keywords for you.

(Disclosure: I am one of the co-founders of Keyword Insights, but there are many other great clustering tools out there).

Keyword ClusteringScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Once you have your clustering report ready, you’ll start noticing the trends I mentioned earlier. For instance, observe the number of queries around variations of “Can you recycle razor blades?”

Traditional keyword research might overlook this term because other SEO tools reported it as having only “60 monthly searches.” However, the total sum of all similar questions asked is likely much higher.

Also, keep in mind these “zero volume” queries were selected based on the engagement they garnered (likes, shares, comments, etc.). So, they’re undoubtedly relevant topics to address.

Keyword insights clustering reportScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Example Insights

After following the above steps for a hypothetical hair removal company, I found myself with a pool of 12,590 keywords, which could be organized into 975 clusters.

Below are some insights we could potentially highlight, confident in the knowledge that it’s likely our competitors haven’t addressed some, if not most, of these topics.


There were many obvious clusters of questions that hadn’t been answered about what potential users were asking before they waxed or around alternative methods of waxing. For example:

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else HasScreenshot from Keywords Insights May 2023

Here’s another example:

what to do before waxing: keyword clusterScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Look at how diverse the wording of the same question is. There’s likely a lot more search volume to the query “what to do before waxing” than SEO tools are reporting.


It’s quite uncommon to see brands excel in creating “post-purchase” content. “Post-purchase content” refers to valuable materials designed to assist their customers after they’ve already utilized their products (or similar ones).

Creating high-quality post-purchase content is a valuable strategy for any business. It demonstrates a sustained commitment to your customers beyond the point of purchase.

By providing this kind of support, you’re nurturing a relationship that extends beyond the transaction, reinforcing that your brand truly cares about their experience.

Moreover, this approach can potentially decrease the volume of customer service queries as you’re proactively addressing common questions and concerns. This not only streamlines your operations but also enhances the customer’s experience with your brand.

One such large cluster I came across that a hair removal company might wish to cover is this one:

ingrown hair brazilian wax before and after: keyword clusterScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Investigating the issue of “ingrown hair after waxing” can bring significant advantages for a hair removal brand.

Let’s explore why.

Firstly, individuals are continuously in search of solutions. The aftermath of waxing isn’t always smooth; dealing with ingrown hairs can be challenging. If your brand can offer relevant and effective advice, it positions you as a trusted expert in the field.

Moreover, consider those online users who are seeking advice for their ingrown hairs. While they may not be actively searching for hair removal products at the moment, if they come across an informative article from your brand, they’ve just made a connection with you.

Essentially, you’ve expanded your reach to prospective customers who were previously unknown.

For your existing customers, providing such value-added content strengthens your relationship. You’re not just a vendor selling them products, but a trusted adviser, enhancing their loyalty to your brand.

From a technical standpoint, producing consistent, quality content increases your visibility to search engines, potentially improving your search rankings. Furthermore, you may gain additional backlinks and social shares, furthering your reach and visibility.

Lastly, offering knowledgeable advice on a topic that is indirectly related to your product underscores your understanding and expertise in the broader field.

You’re not just a product seller; you’re an active participant in the ongoing dialogue, which can enhance your brand’s credibility and influence.

Lifestyle And Advice

The research found a ton of ideas that would resonate with our target audience’s lifestyle needs.

Remember, we’re selling products to real people with real problems. If there’s any content that can help them, even if it’s only “tangentially related” to what we sell, it’s in our best interest to produce it.

Here are some examples:

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else HasScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Promoting body positivity can offer a strategic advantage for a hair removal brand. From a psychological perspective, it fosters self-acceptance and challenges negative beauty norms, reducing body-related anxiety among consumers. This approach can encourage healthier behaviors, reduce harmful social comparisons, and cultivate resilience against societal pressures, all while promoting inclusivity and a sense of value regardless of physical appearance. The indirect influence on sales could be substantial: by aligning the brand with a cause that resonates with many consumers, it may enhance brand perception and customer loyalty. Consequently, customers may prefer to buy from a brand that genuinely aligns with their values, leading to increased sales and stronger brand loyalty. Nevertheless, the brand’s values must be communicated authentically for the impact to be truly meaningful.

Similar ideas include:

why am i so insecure about my looks: keyword clusterScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023


what to say to a guy who is insecure about his body: keyword clusterScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Along with:

Tangential SEO: Finding Keywords for Content No One Else HasScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

By engaging in this broader conversation about attractiveness, the brand can connect more deeply with its audience and demonstrate an understanding of their concerns, thus building trust and strengthening customer relationships.

New Product Ideas

As I mentioned at the beginning, when you explore various topics for your tangential content, it’s more than just collecting ideas for upcoming posts.

You’re actually delving deeper into your customers’ needs and interests that haven’t been addressed yet. This valuable insight can potentially steer the direction for the creation of new products.

We’ve already seen numerous examples of questions people were asking about societal expectations and beauty standards surrounding body hair. It’s natural, therefore, for men to seek out suitable products for addressing these concerns:

new product idea: manscaping kitScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023


trimmer for private male areaScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Cast your mind back to the buyer persona we created. One of the key values our person has is being “environmentally friendly.”

It’s great, therefore, that our research has surfaced many potential new product ideas that align with this:

eco friendly waxing keyword clusterScreenshot from Keyword Insights, May 2023

Of course, these are just a few samples of what I found. Across the 975 clusters in my research, there were loads of new content and product ideas.


It’s crucial for brands to incorporate tangential keyword research into their strategies in order to stay relevant and connect with a wider audience.

By exploring related topics and keywords, brands can uncover new opportunities, engage diverse audiences, and establish themselves as industry leaders.

Tangential keyword research enables brands to identify emerging trends, understand unique customer needs, and develop innovative content and products that resonate with their target market.

Embracing tangents allows brands to outshine competitors, foster customer loyalty, and achieve long-term success in today’s fast-paced digital landscape.

To discover tangential ideas, follow these steps:

  • Understand your target consumer: Put yourself in their shoes and identify the type of content and questions they may have that are tangentially relevant to your business.
  • Explore existing content: Check if any content already addresses these concerns. Use your preferred SEO tool to extract ranking keywords by entering relevant URLs.
  • Enrich your tangential content ideas: Uncover unique keywords that your competitors may not have discovered. Seek inspiration beyond traditional sources of keyword research on forums or social media platforms where people ask questions that aren’t adequately answered elsewhere online.
  • Cluster your keywords: So that you more easily spot patterns and add “volume” to these technically “zero volume” keywords, the keywords need to be grouped together.
  • Analyze clusters for trends: Categorize your insights into main categories, such as pre-purchase, post-purchase, new product ideas, lifestyle, and advice. This will help you identify interesting trends and capitalize on them effectively.

In the practical example, we gathered a significant portion of our keyword ideas by scraping Reddit and Quora.

It’s important to note that not all niches can benefit from these channels (for instance, a website selling broadband cables is unlikely to find much insight there).

However, rest assured that there is always a forum or social channel available for every niche; the key lies in discovering it.

Happy keyword hunting.

More resources:

Featured Image: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

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How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile




How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile

Search is evolving at an incredible pace and new features, formats, and even new search engines are popping up within the space.

Google’s algorithm still prioritizes backlinks when ranking websites. If you want your website to be visible in search results, you must account for backlinks and your backlink profile.

A healthy backlink profile requires a diverse backlink profile.

In this guide, we’ll examine how to build and maintain a diverse backlink profile that powers your website’s search performance.

What Does A Healthy Backlink Profile Look Like?

As Google states in its guidelines, it primarily crawls pages through links from other pages linked to your pages, acquired through promotion and naturally over time.

In practice, a healthy backlink profile can be divided into three main areas: the distribution of link types, the mix of anchor text, and the ratio of followed to nofollowed links.

Let’s look at these areas and how they should look within a healthy backlink profile.

Distribution Of Link Types

One aspect of your backlink profile that needs to be diversified is link types.

It looks unnatural to Google to have predominantly one kind of link in your profile, and it also indicates that you’re not diversifying your content strategy enough.

Some of the various link types you should see in your backlink profile include:

  • Anchor text links.
  • Image links.
  • Redirect links.
  • Canonical links.

Here is an example of the breakdown of link types at my company, Whatfix (via Semrush):

Screenshot from Semrush, May 2024

Most links should be anchor text links and image links, as these are the most common ways to link on the web, but you should see some of the other types of links as they are picked up naturally over time.

Mix Of Anchor Text

Next, ensure your backlink profile has an appropriate anchor text variance.

Again, if you overoptimize for a specific type of anchor text, it will appear suspicious to search engines like Google and could have negative repercussions.

Here are the various types of anchor text you might find in your backlink profile:

  • Branded anchor text – Anchor text that is your brand name or includes your brand name.
  • Empty – Links that have no anchor text.
  • Naked URLs – Anchor text that is a URL (e.g.,
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text – Anchor text that exactly matches the keyword the linked page targets (e.g., blue shoes).
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text – Anchor text that partially or closely matches the keyword the linked page targets (e.g., “comfortable blue footwear options”).
  • Generic anchor text – Anchor text such as “this website” or “here.”

To maintain a healthy backlink profile, aim for a mix of anchor text within a similar range to this:

  • Branded anchor text – 35-40%.
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text – 15-20%.
  • Generic anchor text -10-15%.
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text – 5-10%.
  • Naked URLs – 5-10%.
  • Empty – 3-5%.

This distribution of anchor text represents a natural mix of differing anchor texts. It is common for the majority of anchors to be branded or partially branded because most sites that link to your site will default to your brand name when linking. It also makes sense that the following most common anchors would be partial-match keywords or generic anchor text because these are natural choices within the context of a web page.

Exact-match anchor text is rare because it only happens when you are the best resource for a specific term, and the site owner knows your page exists.

Ratio Of Followed Vs. Nofollowed Backlinks

Lastly, you should monitor the ratio of followed vs. nofollowed links pointing to your website.

If you need a refresher on what nofollowed backlinks are or why someone might apply the nofollow tag to a link pointing to your site, check out Google’s guide on how to qualify outbound links to Google.

Nofollow attributes should only be applied to paid links or links pointing to a site the linking site doesn’t trust.

While it is not uncommon or suspicious to have some nofollow links (people misunderstand the purpose of the nofollow attribute all the time), a healthy backlink profile will have far more followed links.

You should aim for a ratio of 80%:20% or 70%:30% in favor of followed links. For example, here is what the followed vs. nofollowed ratio looks like for my company’s backlink profile (according to Ahrefs):

Referring domainsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2024

You may see links with other rel attributes, such as UGC or Sponsored.

The “UGC” attribute tags links from user-generated content, while the “Sponsored” attribute tags links from sponsored or paid sources. These attributes are slightly different than the nofollow tag, but they essentially work the same way, letting Google know these links aren’t trusted or endorsed by the linking site. You can simply group these links in with nofollowed links when calculating your ratio.

Importance Of Diversifying Your Backlink Profile

So why is it important to diversify your backlink profile anyway? Well, there are three main reasons you should consider:

  • Avoiding overoptimization.
  • Diversifying traffic sources.
  • And finding new audiences.

Let’s dive into each of these.

Avoiding Overoptimization

First and foremost, diversifying your backlink profile is the best way to protect yourself from overoptimization and the damaging penalties that can come with it.

As SEO pros, our job is to optimize websites to improve performance, but overoptimizing in any facet of our strategy – backlinks, keywords, structure, etc. – can result in penalties that limit visibility within search results.

In the previous section, we covered the elements of a healthy backlink profile. If you stray too far from that model, your site might look suspicious to search engines like Google and you could be handed a manual or algorithmic penalty, suppressing your rankings in search.

Considering how regularly Google updates its search algorithm these days (and how little information surrounds those updates), you could see your performance tank and have no idea why.

This is why it’s so important to keep a watchful eye on your backlink profile and how it’s shaping up.

Diversifying Traffic Sources

Another reason to cultivate a diverse backlink profile is to ensure you’re diversifying your traffic sources.

Google penalties come swiftly and can often be a surprise. If you have all your eggs in that basket when it comes to traffic, your site will suffer badly and might need help to recover.

However, diversifying your traffic sources (search, social, email, etc.) will mitigate risk – similar to a stock portfolio – as you’ll have other traffic sources to provide a steady flow of visitors if another source suddenly dips.

Part of building a diverse backlink profile is acquiring a diverse set of backlinks and backlink types, and this strategy will also help you find differing and varied sources of traffic.

Finding New Audiences

Finally, building a diverse backlink profile is essential, as doing so will also help you discover new audiences.

If you acquire links from the same handful of websites and platforms, you will need help expanding your audience and building awareness for your website.

While it’s important to acquire links from sites that cater to your existing audience, you should also explore ways to build links that can tap into new audiences. The best way to do this is by casting a wide net with various link acquisition tactics and strategies.

A diverse backlink profile indicates a varied approach to SEO and marketing that will help bring new visitors and awareness to your site.

Building A Diverse Backlink Profile

So that you know what a healthy backlink profile looks like and why it’s important to diversify, how do you build diversity into your site’s backlink profile?

This comes down to your link acquisition strategy and the types of backlinks you actively pursue. To guide your strategy, let’s break link building into three main categories:

  • Foundational links.
  • Content promotion.
  • Community involvement.

Here’s how to approach each area.

Foundational Links

Foundational links represent those links that your website simply should have. These are opportunities where a backlink would exist if all sites were known to all site owners.

Some examples of foundational links include:

  • Mentions – Websites that mention your brand in some way (brand name, product, employees, proprietary data, etc.) on their website but don’t link.
  • Partners – Websites that belong to real-world partners or companies you connect with offline and should also connect (link) with online.
  • Associations or groups – Websites for offline associations or groups you belong to where your site should be listed with a link.
  • Sponsorships – Any events or organizations your company sponsors might have websites that could (and should) link to your site.
  • Sites that link to competitors – If a website is linking to a competitor, there is a strong chance it would make sense for them to link to your site as well.

These link opportunities should set the foundation for your link acquisition efforts.

As the baseline for your link building strategy, you should start by exhausting these opportunities first to ensure you’re not missing highly relevant links to bolster your backlink profile.

Content Promotion

Next, consider content promotion as a strategy for building a healthy, diverse backlink profile.

Content promotion is much more proactive than the foundational link acquisition mentioned above. You must manifest the opportunity by creating link-worthy content rather than simply capitalizing on an existing opportunity.

Some examples of content promotion for links are:

  • Digital PR – Digital PR campaigns have numerous benefits and goals beyond link acquisition, but backlinks should be a primary KPI.
  • Original research – Similar to digital PR, original research should focus on providing valuable data to your audience. Still, you should also make sure any citations or references to your research are correctly linked.
  • Guest content – Whether regular columns or one-off contributions, providing guest content to websites is still a viable link acquisition strategy – when done right. The best way to gauge your guest content strategy is to ask yourself if you would still write the content for a site without guaranteeing a backlink, knowing you’ll still build authority and get your message in front of a new audience.
  • Original imagery – Along with research and data, if your company creates original imagery that offers unique value, you should promote those images and ask for citation links.

Content promotion is a viable avenue for building a healthy backlink profile as long as the content you’re promoting is worthy of links.

Community Involvement

Community involvement is the final piece of your link acquisition puzzle when building a diverse backlink profile.

After pursuing all foundational opportunities and manually promoting your content, you should ensure your brand is active and represented in all the spaces and communities where your audience engages.

In terms of backlinks, this could mean:

  • Wikipedia links – Wikipedia gets over 4 billion monthly visits, so backlinks here can bring significant referral traffic to your site. However, acquiring these links is difficult as these pages are moderated closely, and your site will only be linked if it is legitimately a top resource on the web.
  • Forums (Reddit, Quora, etc.) – Another great place to get backlinks that drive referral traffic is forums like Reddit and Quora. Again, these forums are strictly moderated, and earning link placements on these sites requires a page that delivers significant and unique value to a specific audience.
  • Social platforms – Social media platforms and groups represent communities where your brand should be active and engaged. While these strategies are likely handled by other teams outside SEO and focus on different metrics, you should still be intentional about converting these interactions into links when or where possible.
  • Offline events – While it may seem counterintuitive to think of offline events as a potential source for link acquisition, legitimate link opportunities exist here. After all, most businesses, brands, and people you interact with at these events also have websites, and networking can easily translate to online connections in the form of links.

While most of the link opportunities listed above will have the nofollow link attribute due to the nature of the sites associated with them, they are still valuable additions to your backlink profile as these are powerful, trusted domains.

These links help diversify your traffic sources by bringing substantial referral traffic, and that traffic is highly qualified as these communities share your audience.

How To Avoid Developing A Toxic Backlink Profile

Now that you’re familiar with the link building strategies that can help you cultivate a healthy, diverse backlink profile, let’s discuss what you should avoid.

As mentioned before, if you overoptimize one strategy or link, it can seem suspicious to search engines and cause your site to receive a penalty. So, how do you avoid filling your backlink profile with toxic links?

Remember The “Golden Rule” Of Link Building

One simple way to guide your link acquisition strategy and avoid running afoul of search engines like Google is to follow one “golden rule.”

That rule is to ask yourself: If search engines like Google didn’t exist, and the only way people could navigate the web was through backlinks, would you want your site to have a link on the prospective website?

Thinking this way strips away all the tactical, SEO-focused portions of the equation and only leaves the human elements of linking where two sites are linked because it makes sense and makes the web easier to navigate.

Avoid Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Another good rule is to avoid looping your site into private blog networks (PBNs). Of course, it’s not always obvious or easy to spot a PBN.

However, there are some common traits or red flags you can look for, such as:

  • The person offering you a link placement mentions they have a list of domains they can share.
  • The prospective linking site has little to no traffic and doesn’t appear to have human engagement (blog comments, social media followers, blog views, etc.).
  • The website features thin content and little investment into user experience (UX) and design.
  • The website covers generic topics and categories, catering to any and all audiences.
  • Pages on the site feature numerous external links but only some internal links.
  • The prospective domain’s backlink profile features overoptimization in any of the previously discussed forms (high-density of exact match anchor text, abnormal ratio of nofollowed links, only one or two link types, etc.).

Again, diversification – in both tactics and strategies – is crucial to building a healthy backlink profile, but steering clear of obvious PBNs and remembering the ‘golden rule’ of link building will go a long way toward keeping your profile free from toxicity.

Evaluating Your Backlink Profile

As you work diligently to build and maintain a diverse, healthy backlink profile, you should also carve out time to evaluate it regularly from a more analytical perspective.

There are two main ways to evaluate the merit of your backlinks: leverage tools to analyze backlinks and compare your backlink profile to the greater competitive landscape.

Leverage Tools To Analyze Backlink Profile

There are a variety of third-party tools you can use to analyze your backlink profile.

These tools can provide helpful insights, such as the total number of backlinks and referring domains. You can use these tools to analyze your full profile, broken down by:

  • Followed vs. nofollowed.
  • Authority metrics (Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Authority Score, etc.).
  • Backlink types.
  • Location or country.
  • Anchor text.
  • Top-level domain types.
  • And more.

You can also use these tools to track new incoming backlinks, as well as lost backlinks, to help you better understand how your backlink profile is growing.

Some of the best tools for analyzing your backlink profile are:

Many of these tools also have features that estimate how toxic or suspicious your profile might look to search engines, which can help you detect potential issues early.

Compare Your Backlink Profile To The Competitive Landscape

Lastly, you should compare your overall backlink profile to those of your competitors and those competing with your site in the search results.

Again, the previously mentioned tools can help with this analysis – as far as providing you with the raw numbers – but the key areas you should compare are:

  • Total number of backlinks.
  • Total number of referring domains.
  • Breakdown of authority metrics of links (Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Authority Score, etc.).
  • Authority metrics of competing domains.
  • Link growth over the last two years.

Comparing your backlink profile to others within your competitive landscape will help you assess where your domain currently stands and provide insight into how far you must go if you’re lagging behind competitors.

It’s worth noting that it’s not as simple as whoever has the most backlinks will perform the best in search.

These numbers are typically solid indicators of how search engines gauge the authority of your competitors’ domains, and you’ll likely find a correlation between strong backlink profiles and strong search performance.

Approach Link Building With A User-First Mindset

The search landscape continues to evolve at a breakneck pace and we could see dramatic shifts in how people search within the next five years (or sooner).

However, at this time, search engines like Google still rely on backlinks as part of their ranking algorithms, and you need to cultivate a strong backlink profile to be visible in search.

Furthermore, if you follow the advice in this article as you build out your profile, you’ll acquire backlinks that benefit your site regardless of search algorithms, futureproofing your traffic sources.

Approach link acquisition like you would any other marketing endeavor – with a customer-first mindset – and over time, you’ll naturally build a healthy, diverse backlink profile.

More resources: 

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Google On Traffic Diversity As A Ranking Factor




Google answers the question of whether traffic diversity is a ranking factor for SEO

Google’s SearchLiaison tweeted encouragement to diversify traffic sources, being clear about the reason he was recommending it. Days later, someone followed up to ask if traffic diversity is a ranking factor, prompting SearchLiaison to reiterate that it is not.

What Was Said

The question of whether diversity of traffic was a ranking factor was elicited from a previous tweet in a discussion about whether a site owner should be focusing on off-site promotion.

Here’s the question from the original discussion that was tweeted:

“Can you please tell me if I’m doing right by focusing on my site and content – writing new articles to be found through search – or if I should be focusing on some off-site effort related to building a readership? It’s frustrating to see traffic go down the more effort I put in.”

SearchLiaison split the question into component parts and answered each one. When it came to the part about off-site promotion, SearchLiaison (who is Danny Sullivan), shared from his decades of experience as a journalist and publisher covering technology and search marketing.

I’m going to break down his answer so that it’s clearer what he meant

This is the part from the tweet that talks about off-site activities:

“As to the off-site effort question, I think from what I know from before I worked at Google Search, as well as my time being part of the search ranking team, is that one of the ways to be successful with Google Search is to think beyond it.”

What he is saying here is simple, don’t limit your thinking about what to do with your site to thinking about how to make it appeal to Google.

He next explains that sites that rank tend to be sites that are created to appeal to people.

SearchLiaison continued:

“Great sites with content that people like receive traffic in many ways. People go to them directly. They come via email referrals. They arrive via links from other sites. They get social media mentions.”

What he’s saying there is that you’ll know that you’re appealing to people if people are discussing your site in social media, if people are referring the site in social media and if other sites are citing it with links.

Other ways to know that a site is doing well is when when people engage in the comments section, send emails asking follow up questions, and send emails of thanks and share anecdotes of their success or satisfaction with a product or advice.

Consider this, fast fashion site Shein at one point didn’t rank for their chosen keyword phrases, I know because I checked out of curiosity. But they were at the time virally popular and making huge amounts of sales by gamifying site interaction and engagement, propelling them to become a global brand. A similar strategy propelled Zappos when they pioneered no-questions asked returns and cheerful customer service.

SearchLiaison continued:

“It just means you’re likely building a normal site in the sense that it’s not just intended for Google but instead for people. And that’s what our ranking systems are trying to reward, good content made for people.”

SearchLiaison explicitly said that building sites with diversified content is not a ranking factor.

He added this caveat to his tweet:

“This doesn’t mean you should get a bunch of social mentions, or a bunch of email mentions because these will somehow magically rank you better in Google (they don’t, from how I know things).”

Despite The Caveat…

A journalist tweeted this:

“Earlier this week, @searchliaison told people to diversify their traffic. Naturally, people started questioning whether that meant diversity of traffic was a ranking factor.

So, I asked @iPullRank what he thought.”

SearchLiaison of course answered that he explicitly said it’s not a ranking factor and linked to his original tweet that I quoted above.

He tweeted:

“I mean that’s not exactly what I myself said, but rather repeat all that I’ll just add the link to what I did say:”

The journalist responded:

“I would say this is calling for publishers to diversify their traffic since you’re saying the great sites do it. It’s the right advice to give.”

And SearchLiaison answered:

“It’s the part of “does it matter for rankings” that I was making clear wasn’t what I myself said. Yes, I think that’s a generally good thing, but it’s not the only thing or the magic thing.”

Not Everything Is About Ranking Factors

There is a longstanding practice by some SEOs to parse everything that Google publishes for clues to how Google’s algorithm works. This happened with the Search Quality Raters guidelines. Google is unintentionally complicit because it’s their policy to (in general) not confirm whether or not something is a ranking factor.

This habit of searching for “ranking factors” leads to misinformation. It takes more acuity to read research papers and patents to gain a general understanding of how information retrieval works but it’s more work to try to understand something than skimming a PDF for ranking papers.

The worst approach to understanding search is to invent hypotheses about how Google works and then pore through a document to confirm those guesses (and falling into the confirmation bias trap).

In the end, it may be more helpful to back off of exclusively optimizing for Google and focus at least equally as much in optimizing for people (which includes optimizing for traffic). I know it works because I’ve been doing it for years.

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO



The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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