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How to Use HARO (And Alternatives) to Get Killer Backlinks

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How to Use HARO (And Alternatives) to Get Killer Backlinks

HARO link building has taken the SEO industry by storm over the last few years. But today, actually getting results is hard work. HARO is oversaturated, and results are not guaranteed.

So should you still try to get media coverage this way? Absolutely! There are tons of links up for grabs. Not just any links. Super high authority links that can drive traffic, leads, and sales. 

But how do you get ahead of the competition? As someone who has had great success using earned media platforms like HARO as a means of building top-notch links over the years, I’m going to give you my tips and tricks on how to get killer backlinks using HARO and alternatives.

But first, let’s get familiar with everything HARO can actually do for you.

Help a Reporter Out, or HARO from Cision, is the best-known platform for journalists’ requests. You receive daily emails filled with opportunities across topics like marketing, lifestyle, business, etc. 

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But how does it work? First, you should sign up as a source.

Sign up on HARO

After you sign up, you’ll get three emails a day—at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m. ET from Monday to Friday.

The emails will be broken down into different categories. Here’s an example of an email you’ll receive:

Example HARO email

Each request will have a title and an outlet in brackets. You’ll want to browse through the email and find relevant topics that you can contribute to.

Once you’ve given the service a spin, it’s definitely worth considering upgrading to a paid HARO account. There are many additional features that become available, which can give you a competitive edge when pitching.

Here’s a quick rundown on HARO Premium.

There are four subscription levels available (including the free option):

HARO pricing plans

For most purposes, the Standard account at $19 a month will be more than sufficient.

The first advantage of a paid subscription is you can set up a profile/bio that will be automatically inserted into your pitches.

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The bio includes links to web properties and social media. These all help to build credibility and authority when pitching to journalists.

You can also add details on your specific areas of expertise and any publications you have previously been featured in.

HARO bio example

As with the free account, you can subscribe to opportunities in specific verticals. But with a paid subscription, you can also set up alerts for media requests that match specified keywords. You can even get SMS alerts if you are in the U.S.

In the example below, I have subscribed to the “Master Haro,” “Business and Finance,” and “High Tech” emails. I have also set up an alert for the keyword “SEO.”

HARO alerts

From now on, I’ll get an email alert like this whenever new media requests include the keyword “SEO”:

Specific emails from HARO containing "SEO"

Another nice feature is the ability to browse and respond to queries directly through the online interface.

HARO platform example

You can even search queries by keyword.

HARO queries filtered by keyword

As you can see, the paid HARO accounts offer a nice bunch of extra features to help you secure media mentions.

How to use HARO for link building

When it comes to using digital PR, and in particular earned media techniques, there are a few things you need to take into consideration to be truly successful at building high-quality links:

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  • Take your time
  • React quickly
  • Choose wisely
  • Focus on the right things
  • Craft quality pitches
  • Use the right platforms

Let’s take a look at these more closely.

Take your time

Here’s the thing about reactive PR: It’s a long game. Although you can gain incredible backlinks from super high authority websites like Forbes, The New York Times, WebMD, etc., this process isn’t instantaneous. 

You have to remember that, with the nature of reactive PR, journalists are posting queries often before writing their content. So they need to filter through all of the responses to find a relevant one, get an article written and edited, as well as get it published. 

All before you can get the glory of that one mega link

Depending on how far in advance they prepare their content calendar, it can easily take six to eight weeks to see these queries published. That’s why when working with clients, I always tell them to expect to wait a minimum of six weeks to start seeing a steady flow of links. 

But it is really important to be working away continuously in the background so that once you do start seeing movement, you’ve already built up a steady pipeline to maintain continued high-quality link acquisition. 

React quickly

Journalists can get even thousands of responses to each query they post. Platforms like HARO are incredibly saturated with agencies and freelancers offering HARO link building services, and they are all trying to land killer links.

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For two reasons, being as quick as possible when responding to queries improves your chances of being successful.

First, you stand a better chance of being seen by a journalist. 

As journalists get so many queries, they will often stop reading new responses if they have already found what they are looking for. So even if you craft an amazing pitch, it may not be opened if someone else has beaten you to the punch. 

Secondly, because of the high volume of responses journalists get, many are setting same-day deadlines for queries to avoid being bombarded with irrelevant pitches. 

Recently, more and more queries are coming through with an end-of-day PST deadline. If you skip a day or don’t check for new queries until late afternoon, you could miss out on the chance to be featured on your dream site. 

That being said, it can be difficult to reply to journalists quickly if you are relying on others (like clients or co-workers) to give expert commentary. Here are some things you can do to help you respond to your most relevant queries as quickly as possible:

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  • Gather soundbites from your experts Keep copies of all of the commentary you have previously sent on behalf of your clients. If a similar query comes up, you can send a quality response without needing to go back to your clients.
  • Use your client’s website for info – Similar to the point above, when working with a client, I’m always sure to gather some great speaking points from the content already available on their “about” page and blog that I can paraphrase as a quick response.
  • Set up filters and alerts – By using email filters and alerts, you can ensure you are being notified quickly about only the most relevant queries. That way, you don’t need to waste time reading every query in every email.
  • Use a paid HARO account – Again, this is similar to setting up an email filter. But a paid HARO account allows you to select the types of queries you want to be notified about. So you’ll only receive emails with queries that are relevant to you. Higher-tier plans even allow you to get the queries a bit sooner.

Choose relevant queries

First, make sure you meet the journalist’s requirements and are qualified to answer a specific query before wasting your (and the journalist’s) time. 

TIP

Only answer queries that are highly relevant. As journalists get so many queries, they blacklist emails they consider “timewasters.” 

One mistake I see time and time again is people focusing on certain metrics rather than the queries they are most qualified to answer. In doing so, they hinder their chances of success. 

Here’s one I’ve heard a million times before: “I only want dofollow links above DR 60 on a site in my niche.”

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Here’s the thing: If you aren’t getting results that contribute toward your marketing objectives, these are simply vanity metrics.

With any earned media coverage, you should strive to achieve at least one of the following:

  • Get exposure to the target audience
  • Gain valuable link equity to help your content rank better in organic search
  • Convert referral traffic

That’s why it is important to establish a clear strategy with reactive PR. Using competitor analysis and truly understanding your target audience can allow you to focus your efforts on acquiring links that most offer value and increase the return on investment (ROI). 

Filter domains worth pursuing

It is important to ensure any queries you respond to are for sites you actually want to be published on. You should check that the site aligns with your personal and professional viewpoints and is of high quality.

Use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to check out the website’s traffic and backlinks. 

By simply plugging the potential site from the HARO query in Site Explorer, you can bring up a quick overview of the site’s metrics, including the Domain Rating (DR) and traffic. 

Overview 2.0 from Ahrefs' Site Explorer

So for this example, the metrics look great, with high authority and a huge amount of organic traffic. But we also want to take a look at the site’s backlink profile. Avoid anything that looks like it’s full of spam links. You can check this in the Backlinks report in Site Explorer:

Example of a backlink profile

Lastly, head over to the site and check out some of the most recent posts. Make sure the content is high quality and offers value to the reader. 

The more you work with HARO, the more you realize there are a number of sites that essentially create an entire piece of content solely by collecting HARO responses. They are full of external links to sites (diluting that all-important link equity) and have questionable quality. 

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There is no point in getting links on a site in your niche solely because it is above a certain DR. Instead, aim to receive a link on a site that has huge visibility, has value to your target audience, and drives relevant traffic and qualified leads to your website with quality content. 

Craft quality pitches

When it comes to HARO link building, it’s all about being pitch-perfect. Writing pitches that journalists want to include in their content is the key to success. 

Here are some tried and tested proven techniques for writing pitches that convert into published links.

Work with multiple personas

My personal top tip when using HARO is to work with multiple personas. 

Many people make the mistake of only pitching journalists on behalf of the CEO or founder of a company. But most companies have experts across multiple departments, such as the HR manager, chief marketing officer, head of content, and so on.

This not only gives you the opportunity to go after more queries, but it also gives a face and a voice to integral team members, building trust with potential customers. 

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Add value

Pitches must be unique. Ask yourself if each sentence is required and if it adds value for the journalist.

Be mindful of what is already ranked on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the topic and consider how you may add value that goes beyond what is already out there. Think outside of the box and try to offer something different while still showcasing your expertise.

Showcase your personality

Every pitch is dependent on you, the subject matter expert. Your quotes should inform and entertain the journalist. When sharing your knowledge, use analogies and your personal viewpoints. 

To connect with the journalist and their audience, write in a direct and casual style almost as if you were speaking to a friend. Be sure to also deliver your expertise in a non-patronizing way.

Keep it short

Journalists receive literally thousands of pitches for each inquiry. They definitely don’t want to read “War and Peace.”

Unless there is an occasion where you need to give exceedingly technical details, your pitch should generally be between 200 and 300 words.

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Make sure your pitch covers what the journalist requested in the inquiry and addresses the topical subject.

Take time to include the essentials

Reading a journalist’s inquiry fully and taking the time to include some key essentials will make the difference when it comes to success. Here are my top things to consider:

  • Subject lines: Remember, journalists will skim their inboxes for the most relevant queries. Always include the title of the query, the person pitching, their role and company, and their experience. Example: “RE: How to screw in a light bulb – John Doe – Engineer at Phillips – 15 years of experience screwing in light bulbs.”
  • Personalize your pitch: Always include the journalist’s name where possible. More often than not, you can establish an ongoing relationship with them and become a go-to source outside of HARO. So taking the time to personalize your pitch makes a difference.
  • Intros and outros: Always include a short introduction that explains who you are and why you’re an expert on the topic you are pitching. Also, be sure to sign off by letting the journalist know you’re happy to answer any additional questions should they need to follow up. And add that you’ll be happy to share their article on social media when it goes live.

Pitch-perfect template

Here is my template for the perfect pitch:

Hey [JOURNALIST NAME],

[INTRO PARAGRAPH]
[PITCH]
[SIGN OFF]

As the pitch is the focus, it is important to ensure you answer different types of queries with different pitch styles. Let’s look at some examples of the different types of queries and publish-perfect pitches.

Advice queries

Query: How to respond when a date cancels on you

Pitch: The best response is to remain calm and relaxed and say something like “Thanks for letting me know” and leave it there. I wouldn’t at this point suggest another date for several reasons. They’ve canceled on you, so I’d leave the ball in their court to suggest another date. If you’re the one trying to rearrange, you run the risk of coming across as desperate and needy.

Business queries

Query: Challenges faced in building your business

Pitch: The top challenges I faced were fund management and hiring suitable people. The first staff I hired only stayed for about three weeks, as they found the job repetitive or realized it was just not for them. Finding people who live and breathe your mission is challenging. It took time to filter candidates to avoid the same thing happening again.

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Product selection queries

Query: Choosing a gaming PC

Pitch: As an avid streamer on Twitch and a lover of gaming since I was a kid, here are my thoughts: PC gaming is in a class of its own. If you’re going to invest in a new gaming computer, here are some important things to consider before you start your search. 

Budget: You have got to start with your budget, of course! You may be surprised to find that a custom-built gaming computer may not be out of your reach, so keep that in mind! 

Graphics card: High-end graphics cards are rare, so it’s probably best to purchase a mid-range card and adjust your game settings accordingly.

RAM: When it comes to memory, it isn’t too expensive right now. So I’d suggest you go for at least 8 GB. 

Storage and audio coms: Other things to consider are storage and audio coms. If you plan on playing online multiplayer games, you will also need a quality headset with a microphone.

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Product recommendation queries

Query: Best travel duffel

Pitch: The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel is made for any type of trip. I’ve put mine through the paces, taking it on surf trips to Central America, having it during ski trips in the Rockies, and even using it as a giant cooler by packing it full of ice. It has never ripped, torn, or complained about how much stuff I’ve jammed inside it. 

Another cool feature: This bag folds up into its front pocket for easy storage when not in use.

Use the right platforms

As mentioned previously, HARO has become incredibly saturated over the last few years. This means there is significantly more competition, and it takes a lot more time and dedication to land solid links. 

Even those of us who have been doing HARO link building for a long time are lucky to get a success rate of around one link for every six pitches these days. For those with less experience, that’s going to look more like one link for every 10 or 12 pitches. 

That means if you’re hoping to get 10 links per month, you’re probably going to need to send at least 100 pitches to see success. 

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But here’s the issue with that. As this technique is reactive, that means we can only respond to what journalists post. It’s not like guest posting, where we can find sites we want and pitch them our ideas for a new article. 

Getting 100+ relevant queries on one platform is difficult, so the best option is to use multiple outlets. Because newer platforms have less competition, often meaning you can get success from fewer pitches. Also, because there are more available queries.

I’m going to talk you through my tried and tested favorite HARO alternatives, the pros and cons of each one, as well as my top tips for success. We’re going to look at Terkel, Help a B2B Writer, and PressPlugs.

Free and paid

Terkel is aptly named after Louis “Studs” Terkel, a writer and broadcaster who spent his career striving to give a voice to everyday people. It has a mission to offer a platform for small businesses to have their expertise shared across the biggest global outlets. 

Terkel is an all-in-one platform that offers high-quality queries from some of the biggest platforms worldwide. 

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How does Terkel work?

First, you will need to head over to Terkel and sign up for a free account. This will allow you to answer five queries per month with basic information about the websites you’re pitching. 

You will need to set up a profile that includes a high-quality headshot and your social links, as these will be a contributing factor as to whether your answers get used by journalists. 

You can also select the different types of queries you want to respond to, such as marketing, business, lifestyle, etc. 

Once set up, you will find everything you need within the Terkel platform. There’s no messing around with emails here; the current open queries are all listed under the “Questions” tab.

Terkel queries

You can also answer queries directly on the platform itself.

Terkel answer box

Terkel has its own algorithm that calculates a source’s expertise based on the number of pitches they send and how many of those are successful. With that, each user is assigned an “expertise score,” which can help Terkel match sources with relevant queries.

That way, it only needs to send emails to let you know about the most relevant queries as and when they appear rather than on a set schedule. That’s why with Terkel, it is really important to only answer relevant queries. If you don’t, it can hinder your expertise score.

As an SEO geek, I also love that Terkel uses Bing’s API to pull in suggested keywords and displays these while you’re pitching, helping you meet search intent. 

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Terkel offers free and paid options. With the free version, you can send up to five pitches a month from a basic selection. 

With the paid option (which is very affordable), you get unlimited pitches, exclusive opportunities, as well as additional information about the sites (which you can filter), such as DR and the type of link attribute.

Pros

One of my personal favorite features of Terkel is the “Track your answers” system. 

Basically, the team at Terkel preapproves every query before sending the most relevant from the best experts to the journalists. This is a huge benefit for publishers (as they aren’t being bombarded with irrelevant pitches), and it also offers instant feedback.

Especially when you compare your pitches, which have been selected by the Terkel team, against those that have been used by journalists. You can use these comparisons to see where your pitches have fallen short and adjust your strategy moving forward. 

Cons

The only thing that currently lets Terkel down for me is the fact that it is still a new platform, meaning there are fewer publishers on it than on others.

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This is not a huge problem for a small business wanting to get the word out about itself. But for a full-time PR freelancer or an agency, it means you usually need to use Terkel in conjunction with something else to meet the number of links you need.

However, this likely won’t be an issue for long as more publishers sign up with Terkel by the day. 

Tips for success

What better way to get a top tip than to find out from Terkel directly? I spoke with Brett Farmiloe, founder of Terkel, who gave this advice:

Quality comes first. We define quality using the “E-A-T” acronym. To be successful on Terkel, make sure you’re answering questions that speak to your expertise. Use your real identity so that publishers can trust your insights. And focus on being the authority of a specific area.

Free

Help a B2B Writer is a new platform that works in a similar way to HARO, sending daily emails with available opportunities across a number of different niches. 

With Help a B2B Writer, the queries are often from super high authority, well-known B2B SaaS brands based in the U.S., such as Zapier. This is great for anyone working with small and medium B2B businesses. 

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How does Help a B2B Writer work?

You’ll need to start by registering as a source and selecting the types of queries you are interested in, such as social media marketing, SEO, etc.

Register as a source on Help a B2B Writer

From Monday to Friday at 3 p.m. BST, Help a B2B Writer emails sources with journo requests that look like this:

Journo request

Help a B2B Writer is completely free. The platform proudly clarifies this: “Sources don’t need to pay anything to be on the list; it’s free for writers to submit requests.”

Pros

Something that makes Help a B2B Writer unique is that you can let the journalist know where you want them to link to. This is unlike HARO, where links are always to the homepage of your website. For this platform, you can specify an individual page, a portfolio, or a social channel.

This is great for helping to build topical authority. For example, if I’m quoted in an article about affiliate marketing and I link back to a page on my website on the same topic, this helps to build topical authority better than a general link to the homepage.

Cons

Help a B2B Writer is a relatively new platform, and I am still testing the waters. To date, I have seen queries from some amazing sites, but I have also seen a number of pitches published in articles without any links and, in some cases, without even a mention. 

It seems a lot of the writers posting queries are using the responses to essentially write entire articles rather than using responses as a source for expert commentary as intended. 

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Keep that in mind when responding and try to go for as many opportunities as possible (where relevant, of course). But also, don’t be shy about reporting writers who are abusing the platform in this way. 

Tips for success

Help a B2B Writer recommends using screenshots and data where possible to back up insights: 

Screenshots and unique data are for writers what catnip is to cats. We love it. Not only does it save time, it helps writers illustrate points with enriching add-ons, like relevant data and visuals.

Paid

PressPlugs is one of my favorite resources for earning high-authority placements for the clients I work with in the U.K. The platform has received queries from journalists working for some of the biggest U.K. publications, including Metro, The Telegraph, and The Daily Mail

Like Terkel, PressPlugs is a platform that hosts its own journo requests. 

Notably, it is a paid platform. But as someone who works with U.K. clients, I find the small monthly fee is worth the number of opportunities available.

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How does PressPlugs work?

You’ll need to start by signing up for a seven-day free trial in order to gain access to the platform. 

PressPlugs' free trial

Once you have an account, you can log in to the platform and access the available media opportunities, which you can filter by category, deadline, or even journalist.

PressPlugs' media opportunities

When you find an opportunity that looks relevant to you, you can simply click on it to expand and see the full details.

Request details of an opportunity on PressPlugs

Pros

One of the great things about PressPlugs is that each request details the name of the journalist as well as their direct email. If you’re a PR pro, you can take this information and start building up a database that you can use to pitch relevant ideas and creative campaigns.

Cons

The number of emails you receive from PressPlugs is beyond excessive. You are likely to miss important emails if you keep these turned on. For me, I have to disable the email notifications (one email for every new query posted!) and work directly on the platform. 

This platform is designed specifically for U.K. publications. So if you are a U.S. company, this platform may not offer as much value for you as some of the others. 

Tips for success

I spoke with Tracy Nolan, co-founder at PressPlugs, to get her top tips for success when using the platform. She had this advice:

Always treat journalists with respect and only go after opportunities where you are a good match. Speculative long shots are not helpful and will mean the journalist will be more reluctant to look at future pitches. Always play the long game and be as helpful as you can.

Final thoughts

Unlike most link building tactics, HARO and other earned media platforms are excellent ways of generating high-quality backlinks and press mentions. Just keep in mind that they require a bit of patience, and you’ll need to provide high-quality responses to the inquiries.

Nevertheless, for the level of effort required compared to the potential gain, it’s definitely worth your time.

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Got a favorite I didn’t mention? I want to know! Of course, if you have any questions, ping me on Twitter.



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SEO

On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

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On-Page SEO Checklist 2024

On-Page SEO Checklist 2024

Want to make your pages rank high on Google? You won’t be able to do that if you don’t know where or how to start your on-page SEO — and with each Google update, this pillar of SEO gets more and more complicated. To keep you updated with the best and most relevant practices when it comes to this aspect of your website, I have prepared an on-page SEO checklist for 2024. 

On-Page SEO Factors

On-page SEO, in simple terms, is all the ways you can optimize your website take place on your website. Tweaking certain elements of your pages can enable them to climb very quickly up the ranks when done right. These elements include essentially everything you can see on your webpage, like its title tags, headers, and images.

Webmaster’s Note: This is part two of our SEO checklist series. Part one covers our technical SEO checklist, so go back if you haven’t seen that yet. I also do deep dives into other aspects of on-page SEO in other articles, like the best content strategy for SEO, how to hack on-page factors, and ways to dominate niche keywords in your industry.

1. Identify Your Target Keyword

This is where any SEO effort should start. Identify which basic keywords you would like each page to rank for. From there, you can expand into common phrases, questions, and related words people use to find pages like yours through keyword research. 

Key Aspects of Keyword Optimization:

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  • Keyword Research: Identifying the right keywords that your target audience is searching for.
  • Keyword Placement: Sensibly incorporating keywords in titles, headings, the first paragraph, and throughout the content.
  • Searcher Intent: Catering to why someone is performing a search, whether it’s to find information, make a purchase, etc.

Effective keyword optimization allows you to create pages that best meet user intent. This boosts your chances of ranking highly for your chosen keywords. 

Using a Keyword Research Tool for On-Page SEOUsing a Keyword Research Tool for On-Page SEO

I have longer guides on the types of keywords you should look at, and another on how to do keyword research you can follow for this step.

2. High-Quality Content Creation

Quality content is the keystone of on-page SEO. It is, after all, fundamental to the selling point of Google — which is that it is the go-to place to find answers to your questions. It’s why Google pushes Helpful Content Updates every so often.

So, your content must meet Google’s standards of quality in order to make it to the top. To do that, your content must be authoritative, valuable to the reader, and deliver on the promises made by your meta tags and headings.

What Constitutes Quality Content:

  • Originality: Your content must be unique and offer fresh insights.
  • Relevancy: It should align with your target user’s intent and be updated regularly.
  • Engagement: Content must encourage users to spend time on your site and interact with your offerings.

Creating content that exceeds user expectations can dramatically bolster your SEO as it can directly affect user engagement metrics and boost the credibility of your site. 

Webmaster’s Note: Beyond making sure all new content is high-quality, however, is ensuring all of your existing content is also up to par. I’ll be covering that in part four of this series, so keep an eye out for that. 

3. URL Structure

URLs are not only a ranking factor but also enhance the user experience when structured logically. 

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Features of an Effective URL Structure:

  • Concise and Descriptive: A URL should be concise and explain your page content. No stop words.
  • Keyword Inclusion: A relevant keyword can enhance a URL’s performance.
  • Use Hyphens instead of Underscores: Conventional use dictates using hyphens to separate words.

A clear URL helps users and search engines make sense of the page’s content before they even reach it.

Here’s an example of a bad URL slug. 

Example of Bad URL StructureExample of Bad URL Structure

And here’s an example of a good, optimized one.

Example of Good URL StructureExample of Good URL Structure

4. Title Tag and Headings

I find that certain practices for these two elements give the most benefit to a page’s SEO. 

Best Practices for Title Tag and Heading Optimization:

  • Use a Keyword-First Approach: Place keywords first in your title tag, as uninterrupted by stop-words as possible.
  • Keep it Simple: Title tags should be concise to ensure the entire tag is displayed on the SERPs.
  • Same Keyword, Different Phrasing: Use the same keyword in your title tag and heading 1. However, use different phrasing or wording for each. 
  • Insert Related Keywords: Do this for your heading 2, 3, and so on, where it makes sense.
  • Avoid Duplicates: Use different title tags and headings for every unique page.

4. Meta Tags Enhancement

Meta tags, such as the meta description, serve as a brief pitch to users on search engine results pages. Other meta tags, like your image alt text and links, provide important context to both the user and crawlbot.

Tips for Enhanced Meta Tags:

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  • Compelling Copy: Write title tags and meta descriptions that accurately summarize the page content and entice clicks.
  • Keyword Usage: Try to insert target keywords and/or related keywords effectively in your meta descriptions, and within the limit.
  • Uniqueness: Each page should have unique meta tags. 
  • Be Descriptive: Your image alt text should not only include a related keyword but should also adequately describe what is seen on the image. 
  • Add internal and external links: Semantic search means Google can use the links in your pages to gain a better understanding of its content. Always add relevant internal links, and only include external links from trusted websites. 
  • Use Noindex Robots Meta Tag: Add this to prevent any pages with thin content, or pages with little value and no intent from appearing in the SERPs.
  • Use rel=”canonical” Link Tag: Use this for any duplicate pages you have on your website. Doing this can help you control which version of the page gets indexed and ranks for your targeted keywords. 
  • Set your Open Graph Meta Tags: This will let you optimize how your pages look when they’re shared on social media.
  • Set your Viewport Meta Tag: This configures how your pages are scaled and displayed on different devices and platforms, which is important for user experience (more on that later). 

To get the most out of your SEO, don’t neglect this part of your on-page SEO checklist. The small tweaks here can add up to the big picture. 

Well-crafted meta tags have the potential to increase click-through rates, boost your visibility on organic search and image search, enhance user experience, and also distribute link equity throughout your pages. All these contribute to how well your page ranks. 

5. Internal Linking

Internal linking spreads link equity throughout your site and can help search engines discover new pages. Always link back to pillar content, or other high-value content on your website. 

Benefits of Strategic Internal Linking:

  • Navigation: They guide users through other relevant pages on your website.
  • Page Authority: Anchor text can help to convey what the linked-to page is about, which can aid in ranking for those terms.
  • User Time on Site: Providing relevant links can keep users engaged on your site for longer periods.

Good internal linking can significantly increase your engagement rates and contribute to building a robust site architecture. I have a separate post on how to build topical authority through internal linking you can check out.

6. User Experience (UX)

User experience affects on-page SEO because search engines favor websites that provide a positive user experience.

UX Factors to Consider in Your Website Design:

  • Mobile-Friendliness: The site must perform well across all devices — but especially on mobile-view, as most users use Google through their phones.
  • Ease of Use: The site should be navigable and logical in its layout. Navigation bars and other menus should be intuitive and prioritize the most important pages of your website.
  • Page Speed: Pages should load quickly to reduce bounce rates. Follow this guide to site speed optimization for this point.

As UX becomes an even more important ranking factor, I find it is necessary to add to this on-page SEO checklist. Sites that deliver a high-quality user experience will dominate search engine results pages.

Key Takeaway

Mastering this pillar of SEO is crucial for achieving high rankings on Google, and staying updated with evolving best practices is essential. But with every update, what works best changes. 

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My 2024 on-page SEO checklist provides basically the most up-to-date practices for the elements on your website. Follow it, and you should be able to boost your website’s authority, credibility, and long-term SEO performance.

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YouTube Challenges TikTok Duets With “Collab” For Shorts

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YouTube Challenges TikTok Duets With "Collab" For Shorts

YouTube has launched a new “Collab” feature for its short-form video product Shorts, allowing creators to remix and respond to existing YouTube videos and Shorts in a split-screen format.

The full rollout on Android and iOS marks an update that could change how content is made and distributed on the platform.

Collaborative Creativity Unleashed

With Collab, Shorts creators can now record their short videos alongside a video of their choosing from YouTube’s catalog up to 60 seconds long.

The new tool provides options for different side-by-side layouts, picture-in-picture, and green screen effects – opening up creative possibilities for reacting to, collaborating with, and repurposing content.

How Does ‘Collab’ Work?

To use the Collab feature, follow these steps:

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  1. Navigate to the video’s watch page they wish to remix.
  2. Click the ‘Remix’ icon and select ‘Collab.’
  3. Choose a segment up to 60 seconds from the video to sample.
  4. Select from various layout options that align with their creative vision.
  5. Record their Short alongside the original video, which will play simultaneously.

A New Avenue for Marketers

The new ‘Collab’ feature displays the original video and user-created content side-by-side, enabling users to craft responses, duets, and new interpretations of existing videos.

This functionality allows digital marketers to leverage user-generated content to reinforce brand messaging.

Additionally, ‘Collab’ has the potential to boost engagement with branded videos and inspire creative marketing campaigns that incorporate audience participation as a core element.

YouTube vs TikTok: The Remix Battle

The launch of Collab comes as YouTube aims to further compete with rivals like TikTok in the exploding short-form video space.

TikTok pioneered features like Duets, where users can split the screen with another video and film themselves reacting to it. Collab provides YouTube creators with similar reactive and collaborative options natively within YouTube’s ecosystem.

Both platforms now offer tools that enable users to build upon others’ content, fostering a culture of collaboration and iterative creativity. However, YouTube’s vast repository of long-form content combined with Shorts could provide a unique edge in the diversity of content available for remixing.

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Final Thoughts

For digital marketers and creators, Collab represents an engaging new format on YouTube for responding to trending content, viral sounds and moments, and participating in meme culture. The tool makes repurposing audio and video clips even easier. Marketers may find collaborative Shorts are a way to join larger conversations and engage desired audiences.

TikTok pioneered short-form video remixing online, but YouTube has the advantages of a vast video library and powerful search functionality. These provide opportunities for YouTube’s new Collab feature to enable derivative creativity. Like other Shorts tools, Collab seeks to match TikTok’s capabilities and give YouTube creators every option to achieve success on the platform.


FAQ

What is YouTube’s new “Collab” feature for Shorts, and how does it expand creative options for creators?

YouTube’s recently introduced “Collab” feature for Shorts is an innovative function that permits creators to engage with and remix existing YouTube videos and Shorts. This tool enhances interactive creativity by allowing for:

  • Recording short videos alongside a selected video from YouTube’s vast catalog for up to 60 seconds.
  • Employing various layout options such as side-by-side, picture-in-picture, and green screen effects.
  • Enabling creators to react to, collaborate with, or repurpose content fosters a dynamic content creation environment.

 

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How might digital marketers harness the “Collab” feature in their YouTube marketing strategies?

The “Collab” feature offers digital marketers a dynamic tool to amplify their YouTube marketing efforts by:

  • Creating opportunities to engage with user-generated content and incorporate it into brand messaging.
  • Encouraging community engagement through interactive and co-creative campaigns involving audience participation.
  • Using the feature to respond to trends may lead to higher engagement rates and foster a participatory brand culture.

 

What competitive edge does YouTube gain over TikTok with the launch of the “Collab” feature?

With the launch of “Collab,” YouTube has positioned itself to be more competitive with TikTok by:

  • Introducing a feature that parallels TikTok’s popular Duets, allowing users to create content in a collaborative split-screen format.
  • Leveraging its extensive library of long-form content to provide creators with a broader range of content to remix, surpassing the variety available on TikTok.
  • Combining its powerful search functionality and the new feature to attract creators looking to engage with and contribute to trending topics and cultural memes.
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Featured Image: Prathmesh T/Shutterstock

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10 Completely Free SEO Training Courses

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10 Completely Free SEO Training Courses

Learning SEO doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of quality free SEO courses teaching everything from the basics to keyword research to link building.

Here are ten that won’t cost a dime.

Course provider: Ahrefs

Duration: 2 hours

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Instructor(s): Sam Oh

Level: Beginner

Link: SEO Course for Beginners

What you’ll learn

  • The fundamentals of what search engine optimization is and how it works
  • Why SEO is important
  • How to do keyword research
  • How to optimize web pages for search engines
  • Beginner-friendly link building strategies to get backlinks to your site
  • Technical SEO best practices for beginners

This comprehensive course is ours and covers the fundamentals of SEO, including keyword research, on-page SEO, technical SEO, and link building.

SEO Certification Course by HubSpotSEO Certification Course by HubSpot

Course provider: HubSpot

Duration: 3 hours 51 minutes

Instructor(s): Rachel Sheldon, Matthew Howells-Barby

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Level: Beginner

Link: SEO Certification Course

What you’ll learn

  • How to evaluate and improve your website’s SEO
  • How to build backlinks to your website at scale to increase your website’s visibility in organic search
  • How to use insights from keyword research and reporting to improve your search performance

HubSpot’s SEO Training Course is tailored for marketers, content creators, and anyone looking to enhance their website’s visibility. Through practical lessons and real-world examples, the course participants will learn how to build a robust SEO strategy, analyze their website’s performance, and adapt to the changing algorithms of search engines.

Make sure customers find you online by Google SkillshopMake sure customers find you online by Google Skillshop

Course provider: Google

Duration: 3 hours

Instructor(s): Google

Level: Beginner

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Link: Make Sure Customers Find You Online

What you’ll learn

  • How to get started with search
  • How to make search work for you
  • How to get discovered with search
  • How to help people nearby find you online

This free course from Google Skillshop helps businesses discover ways to reach and connect with more customers online. It covers improving SEO and using online advertising (SEM) to boost sales and awareness.

Google SEO Fundamentals by UC Davis on CourseraGoogle SEO Fundamentals by UC Davis on Coursera

Course provider: University of California, Davis

Duration: 28 hours

Instructor(s): Rebekah May

Level: Beginner

Link: Google SEO Fundamentals

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What you’ll learn

  • How to complete a competitive analysis on a webpage
  • How to interpret brand recognition through social media
  • How to create sitemaps and robot.txt files, plan redirects, and manage site errors
  • How to use a variety of SEO tools to conduct an audience analysis and develop personas of your ideal buyer

Offered by the University of California, Davis, this course on Coursera delves into the fundamental aspects of SEO, including how search engines work and how to implement effective SEO strategies to attract more organic traffic.

However, due to its length (28 hours), it may not be the most suitable if you want to learn SEO fast.

SEO for Beginners Training by YoastSEO for Beginners Training by Yoast

Course provider: Yoast

Duration: 2 hours

Instructor(s): Joost de Valk

Level: Beginner

Link: SEO for Beginners Training

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What you’ll learn

  • What SEO is and what Google does
  • Tips for quick wins to improve your site
  • Insights into the content and technical side of SEO

This free course discusses what SEO is and how it works. Some of the important points from the course are how to use keywords to optimize your website, how to write content that Google likes, and how to make your website crawlable by search engines.

Keyword Research Course by AhrefsKeyword Research Course by Ahrefs

Course provider: Ahrefs

Duration: 2 hours

Instructor(s): Sam Oh

Level: Beginner

Link: Keyword Research Course

What you’ll learn

  • How to do keyword research and drive targeted traffic to your website

This is our specialized course that focuses specifically on keyword research. It covers topics such as how to choose keywords, how to analyze search intent, and how to find low-competition keywords.

Technical SEO Course by AhrefsTechnical SEO Course by Ahrefs

Course provider: Ahrefs

Duration: 1 hour 21 minutes

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Instructor(s): Sam Oh

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Link: Technical SEO Course

What you’ll learn

  • The fundamentals of technical SEO
  • How to run a technical SEO audit
  • How to optimize your website’s technical SEO

Another specialized course from us, this course is designed for those looking to dive deeper into the technical side of SEO. It covers advanced topics such as site audits, page speed optimization, and how to resolve common technical issues that can impact search rankings.

Technical SEO Certification by Blue ArrayTechnical SEO Certification by Blue Array

Course provider: Blue Array

Duration: 7 hours

Instructor(s): Damion Edwards

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Level: Beginner to intermediate

Link: Technical SEO Certification

What you’ll learn

Aimed at professionals seeking to certify their expertise, this course covers a wide range of technical SEO topics, including crawling, indexing, ranking, and on-page optimization. From site architecture to schema markup, it equips learners with the skills to tackle technical challenges and improve website performance.

Local SEO Course by AhrefsLocal SEO Course by Ahrefs

Course provider: Ahrefs

Duration: 44 minutes

Instructor(s): Sam Oh

Level: Beginner

Link: Local SEO Course

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What you’ll learn

  • How to do local SEO
  • How to do local keyword research
  • How to do local link building

Ideal for businesses targeting local customers, this course teaches the basics of optimizing for local search. It covers essential tactics for improving local visibility, such as Google Business Profile optimization and local keyword targeting.

Advanced Link Building Course by AhrefsAdvanced Link Building Course by Ahrefs

Course provider: Ahrefs

Duration: 1 hour 48 minutes

Instructor(s): Sam Oh

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Link: Advanced Link Building Course

What you’ll learn

  • How to find prospects with the “seed and lookalike” approach
  • How to validate link building campaigns with a “blitz list”
  • How to craft personalized and benefit-rich outreach emails
  • How to create, structure and manage a link building team
  • How to scale your link building operations

Focusing on one of the most challenging aspects of SEO, Sam shares his years of experience creating campaigns, sending outreach emails, and building teams. This is a must-finish course if you need help building and scaling your link building operations.

Final thoughts

The best way to learn SEO is to do.

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So, don’t just go through the courses, take notes, and leave it aside. You need to actually execute to find out what works and what doesn’t. Create a website, implement the ideas you’re learning, and see if you can get more organic traffic to it.

That’s how you become an SEO pro.

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