Connect with us

SEO

The Beginner’s Guide to Making Your Brand Unmissable

Published

on

The Beginner’s Guide to Making Your Brand Unmissable

Public relations has always been a critical factor in building a brand, and it is no different in today’s digital society. Times have simply moved from billboards and press comments outside office buildings to creative digital campaigns and quotes in key online publications.

The best part? Digital PR and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly. Digital PR is not only beneficial to your website in its own right, but it can also seriously boost your SEO efforts and is the truest form of “white hat” link building. 

As someone who specializes in using digital PR for SEO, I am going to deep dive into digital PR and its many benefits, as well as give you some of my top tips on where to start and how to get the most success from your efforts.

But first, let’s look at what digital PR is and why it is important.

Digital PR is a promotional tactic used by marketing professionals and PR specialists. When done properly, it utilizes traditional public relations tactics in a digital space—most often to boost the awareness of a brand, company, or business.

Advertisement

The whole point of digital PR is to stay ahead of the curve and make your brand unmissable.

Just like any other form of marketing, digital PR should have its own strategy based on the individual requirements and goals of the brand or business. The strategy combines a number of techniques, such as promoting content, stories, or data, to deliver results that benefit the overall marketing strategy.

Why is digital PR important?

Digital PR has a huge number of benefits in addition to improving brand awareness, including boosting organic traffic, leads, and sales, as well as promoting social engagement.

Digital PR is often thought of as a form of link building. However, it is a beast of its own, and the two should not be confused. Digital PR should be done alongside SEO. Even Google’s own John Mueller said previously that it is often even more important than technical SEO.

Advertisement

Although digital PR is not an SEO tactic, it does complement our efforts as SEOs by improving the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the brand and those behind it, as well as creating high-quality, super-authority backlinks. 

The fact is no matter what paid and organic marketing channels you focus on, digital PR should always be part of your marketing strategy, regardless of the size of your business.

What are the main goals for digital PR?

So if you’re new to digital PR, you’re probably wondering why you should invest your time and money into a digital PR strategy and what the point is exactly? Well, let’s break it down and look at some of the main reasons people want to utilize digital PR tactics for their business:

Advertisement
  • Brand coverage
  • Building awareness
  • Forming long-term relationships with journalists
  • Boosting SEO efforts

Bigger and better brand coverage

Media coverage for brands has always been one of the main goals for public relations, regardless of whether it is in a digital or traditional sense. 

A third-party endorsement for your business, especially from a highly authoritative media outlet, is the best possible advertisement for your company. Your brand and those behind it are presented as experts in the field. This builds instant trust with your audience and potential customers.

Building awareness and shaping brand image

If you’re the new kid on the block and your business is just getting started, create an online presence that lets your target audience know who you are, what you’re about, and your values. This gets your name in front of your target audience in the way you want to be viewed.

Doing so in a way that is newsworthy is best for making a lasting impression.

But it’s not just about making a name for yourself at the beginning of your business. Even established brands look for new and exciting ways to get in front of their ideal audience to maintain brand awareness and stop their competition from getting the edge. 

Forming long-term relationships with journalists

Unlike the days of traditional print media, a digital journalist never always reveals their source. That means mentioning your brand and often quoting the key experts at the forefront of your business. 

Now, pitching journalists regularly (daily in my case) is considered by many to be a long-winded, tedious process. However, this is simply the first step in building relationships with journalists—the value of which should never be underestimated. 

Advertisement

As someone who has been using digital PR to boost the SEO efforts for clients over the years, I have built ongoing relationships with hundreds of journalists. 

To date, I have a personal database of thousands of U.S.- and U.K.-based journalists for all major publications. That means, these days, I can contact journalists directly for campaigns and press releases I am running for my clients.

I also have a large number of journalists who come to me (or my clients) directly for quotes that require topic experts. Whenever they are writing an article relevant to my experience, they will reach out to me to see if I can provide a quote.

Email from a journalist about a feature

Initially, pitching journalists is definitely hard work. But in the long run, you can build ongoing, long-term relationships. It’s definitely worth it when journalists come to you and are continuously publishing your brand on high-authority websites.

Boosting SEO efforts

Although the main goal of public relations is always to build your brand, the secondary benefits digital PR lends to SEO are undeniable. 

We will discuss each of these and why they matter in more detail later, but the most obvious are links, links, and more links. 

But not just any links. Not a random link thrown into a guest post that no one will ever see or care about. I’m talking about links that actually get clicks, drive traffic to a piece of content or asset, encourage engagement and shares, and boost branded search. 

Advertisement

Pages with more backlinks often appear higher in search results. A page’s Google search traffic is strongly and positively correlated with the number of websites that link to it, according to our analysis of 1 billion pages:

Correlation between search traffic and referring domains

Plus, if you want to put the “expert” in expertise, authority, and trust, there’s nothing more effective than being quoted across high-authority websites as a go-to topic specialist.

What are the main benefits of digital PR?

OK, now we know the point of public relations. So let’s talk about what you’ll get out of it:

  • More sales and leads
  • Build authority with links from top-tier publications
  • Build links that competitors can’t replicate to get ahead of the competition
  • Gain trust as an industry expert
  • Earn links that drive referral traffic

More sales and leads

In all my years working with clients as an SEO, I found getting more qualified leads and sales is always on their list of KPIs—no matter what other goals they may have. 

The great thing about digital PR is that it gets your brand in front of the right people at the right time. A well-coordinated campaign can ensure your new product, a seasonal sale, or a special offer is seen by your ideal customers and promote a huge influx of highly relevant, qualified leads.

Recommendation

Advertisement
The key here is relevance. Most people get confused about niche or topic relevance and think of it in the same way as traditional link building. 

Building links for SEO on niche relevant sites can help improve topic relevance so Google has a better understanding of what your website is about. But in digital PR, relevance means getting your business, product, or service in front of a relevant audience. 

For example, if you have a B2B cybersecurity business, you don’t want any old mention on Cybersecurity Weekly. Rather, you want to be featured in content that CEOs and founders are likely to read, such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Entrepreneur.

Build authority with links from top-tier publications

One of the major benefits of digital PR (certainly as an SEO) is building links to highly authoritative websites that you simply can’t achieve with other forms of link building.

Over the years, I have acquired a magnitude of links for clients across sites like Forbes, The New York Times, The Telegraph, BuzzFeed, and so on. 

These links can not only significantly improve the authority of your site within your given niche in the eyes of search engines, but they can also make your brand stand out from the competition. 

Advertisement

If someone searches for your company name, everyone expects the top result to be your website. But not everyone can follow that with positions #2, #3, and #4 as features on sites like those listed above.

Build links that competitors can’t replicate to get ahead of the competition

As mentioned above, the links acquired from digital PR are more difficult to replicate with traditional link building methods. Plus, features are always completely unique.

Sure, your competitors can also do some digital PR. But it is not guaranteed that the same sites will be working on relevant features to acquire links or that they will even be picked up by the journalists.

That means even if a major competitor is continuously checking your backlink profile to attempt to loot your backlinks, it’s not as simple as putting a guest post on the same website. 

Gain trust as an industry expert

Let’s face it. Anyone can tell you how fantastic they are. A well-written About page or a self-promoting YouTube video may gain you some trust as an authority in your industry. But an endorsement from an authoritative publication? Priceless.

Nothing speaks louder to a potential customer than a leading industry authority presenting you as an expert. This builds instant trust between you (seen as a specialist in your field) and people who are directly interested in what you have to offer.

Advertisement

As someone who has worked with niche sites for a long time, I’m often asked to comment on topics like flipping websites—such as this one recently published on affilimate.com:

Expert commentary published on an authority site

If you regularly provide journalists with well-written and actionable quotes, chances are they will add you as a regular source.

Recommendation

Always share any articles your quotes are published in across social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. Journalists have KPIs on engagement and shares, and sources who make the effort on socials tend to get used again.

Earn links that drive referral traffic

With links acquired by traditional link building methods, the goal is to develop trust signals from authoritative, niche-relevant sites that will tell Google your website is an authority in the niche and give search engines a better understanding of your site’s content.

The thing is that those links don’t always tell your audience you are an authority and, often, have no real value to the user.

When you’re promoting yourself and your brand as an authority to your potential customers using digital PR methods, links will be used to direct the user to a highly relevant, engaging resource. 

Advertisement

For example, a story that goes viral about a groundbreaking study your company has conducted may contain a link that directs readers to the results. 

Flowchart showing proactive PR process

These links drive traffic, social shares, and engagement.

Is there any downside to digital PR?

Now, I’m a huge advocate of digital PR and how it can support SEO. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. So let’s take a look at some of the downsides:

  • Highly competitive
  • Ever-changing
  • Results not guaranteed

Highly competitive

Due to the nature of public relations, it is a highly competitive arena. Some of the more popular tactics—such as earned media, where you pitch journalists your thoughts as an industry expert—happen quickly. And there are thousands of other people waiting to jump on the opportunity.

Journalists can post their queries across different platforms in the afternoon and want all submissions by the end of the working day. That means you have to be hot off the blocks (as well as provide something high-quality and unique) to beat the competition. 

Ever-changing

In the last six months alone, I have seen enormous changes within the digital PR space, especially as someone who specifically uses PR to boost SEO. 

Advertisement

Tactics that were highly successful before no longer work, and platforms that were once a goldmine of opportunities are over-saturated and offer results few and far between. 

Now, if you’re an SEO, you’re used to being on your toes. I mean, who knows what kind of curveball Google can throw at any time with a surprise algorithm update? 

But for those not used to working in such a fast-paced environment, such as a small-business owner, it can be difficult to stay on top of what the best plan of action is to actually get results.

Results are not guaranteed

Speaking of results, here’s the thing with digital PR: They’re never guaranteed! Mainly due to the two reasons above.

You can pitch 20 journalists and just not hit the nail on the head. Or you come up with a great campaign idea, conduct an in-depth study, and create assets around the results; then, a competitor releases something near-similar the day before publishing (yes, I’ve had that happen).

Also, if you don’t have the best strategy or it simply isn’t well executed, the likelihood is that you won’t get picked up by journalists or you won’t get the response from your target audience.

Advertisement

Five digital PR tactics that work best

So now that we’ve talked about what digital PR is, as well as the pros and cons, let’s take a look at some of my favorite digital PR tactics:

  1. Reactive PR (earned media)
  2. Data-driven proactive campaigns
  3. Press releases
  4. Creative campaigns
  5. Newsjacking

1. Reactive PR (earned media)

Reactive PR (also called earned media) is a method where a journalist will post a query for an article they are writing, requiring subject matter experts to give comments that they can use as an authority source.

Media request via email

This method works incredibly well for businesses of all sizes and helps to build E-A-T and high-authority links. 

Backlink report showing example placements from earned media

There are a few different platforms and methods used for reactive PR, depending on the kinds of sites you want to target (niches, geography, etc.). All you need to do is visit the website and register as a source, and queries will come directly to your inbox. 

Some of these include:

HAROHelp a Reporter Out is a popular platform for earned media. It’s a great option for beginners and mainly focuses on high-quality publications in the U.S. The one issue with HARO is, these days, it is incredibly saturated, so you have to be quick to get featured.

Email from HARO with daily opportunities

TerkelTerkel is a great alternative to HARO that provides queries for high-authority media outlets in both the U.S. and U.K. Again, it is a great option for beginners looking to do their own PR and, as a newer platform, is continuously expanding with opportunities.

Email from Terkel with open opportunities
Email from Terkel with open opportunities.

SourceBottle – If you’re a new business specifically looking for publications in Australia, SourceBottle is a great platform to get started with.

Email from SourceBottle with open opportunities
Email from SourceBottle with open opportunities.

Paid platforms – The above options are all free and a great starting place for beginners. However, these days, more experienced PR pros will stay away from these platforms when working on accounts for clients. They may opt for paid platforms instead. 

Some examples of paid platforms include Muck Rack, Prowly, JournoLink, and JustReachOut.

Advertisement
Email from JournoLink with new opportunities
Email from JournoLink with new opportunities.

Recommendation

When specifically using this tactic for SEO, don’t waste time pitching queries that are for sites you don’t want links from.

Use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to vet publications before pitching. If you’re hoping for an SEO boost, you can quickly check the Domain Rating (DR) score and traffic of a site.

Plus, always look at its backlink profile to make sure nothing seems untoward. Avoid any site that has a backlink profile full of spam links or appears to be part of a public blog network (PBN).

Overview of CACM via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

The key to success with reactive PR is to write unique and actionable pitches for journalists. Give them something that your competitors won’t have an insight into and make sure it is well written. 

Journalists want to directly copy and paste, so make their job as easy as possible!

Recommended reading: How to Build Backlinks and Get Press Using HARO [Case Study] 

2. Data-driven proactive campaigns

Journalists love data. Fact.

Advertisement

Conducted some groundbreaking research? Got some fun and quirky statistics? Journalists love to feature that stuff. 

The idea with these campaigns is to come up with an idea around something newsworthy that you can gather comprehensive data on and then proactively approach journalists with the story.

I recently created a campaign for a client in the HR industry about lying on your CV for remote positions. We conducted a study in the U.K., and it turns out that over one-third of jobseekers were lying to get remote positions. 

We created an in-depth piece of content detailing the full results on the client’s website, along with a long-form infographic with the key data points. It was then picked up by hundreds of media outlets, including MSN and Yahoo: 

Campaign feature on Yahoo
Campaign feature on Yahoo.

3. Press releases

Just won an award? A new company merged? If you have a newsworthy story, a press release is a great way to get traction, create brand awareness, and amplify your position as an authority in your industry.

Here’s an example of a press release we distributed earlier this year about major keyword updates:

Press release example from Ahrefs

There is a formula for success when it comes to writing press releases, though. To get picked up, they need to be written and formatted correctly. To learn more about how to do it, you can read this great guide from our Rebecca Liew.

4. Creative campaigns

We’ve established that journalists love data, but that doesn’t mean all campaigns have to be data-led to pick up traction. 

Advertisement

Big brands are finding more and more success with creative campaigns that include bold visuals or creative stunts (think the digital version of a flash mob) to capture attention and go viral. 

A fantastic example is Taylor & Hart’s diamond Haribo ring campaign, created by creative PR agency Rise at Seven:

Taylor & Hart’s diamond Haribo ring campaign
Source: Rise at Seven.

This campaign tugged at the nation’s heartstrings, driving 8,500 people to its landing page and picking up almost 40 qualified leads… for a £25,000 ring!

5. Newsjacking

For this tactic to be successful, you have to be hot off the presses. 

Newsjacking is all about monitoring news stories as they break and jumping on them with comments and thought leadership pieces. It is an always-on technique that is used by PR professionals to put brands at the center of a trending topic.

Most people who do newsjacking successfully have teams of people monitoring the news daily for stories to jump on. For a beginner, an easy way to get started is to set up Google Alerts to notify you of specific topics. That way, you can be quick to respond with expert commentary.

Recommended reading: 9 Great Public Relations Tactics With Campaign Examples 

Advertisement

Final thoughts

Digital PR is one of the most effective ways of establishing your brand and those behind it as an authority in your space. Also, it works in tandem with SEO to boost your link building efforts.

Is it time to start using digital PR to make your brand unmissable?

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ping me on Twitter.



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

SEO

How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

Published

on

By

How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

Building a successful agency can be a daunting task in today’s ever-evolving space. Do you know the secrets to succeeding with yours?

Watch this informative, on-demand webinar, where link building expert Jon Ball reveals the closely guarded secrets that have propelled Page One Power to become a highly successful $10 million agency.

You’ll learn:

  • The foundational principles on which to build your business to succeed.
  • The importance of delegation, market positioning, and staffing.
  • More proven lessons learned from 14 years of experience.

With Jon, we’ll provide you with actionable insights that you can use to take your business to the next level, using foundational principles that have contributed to Page One Power’s success.

If you’re looking to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur or grow your agency in the constantly evolving world of SEO, this webinar is for you.

Learn the secrets of establishing a thriving agency in an increasingly competitive SEO space.

Advertisement

View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

How An Enterprise Digital PR Firm Earns 100’s Of Links In 30 Days

Join us as we explore how to scale the very time-consuming and complicated process of earning links from digital PR, with proven case studies showing how you can earn hundreds of links in 30 days.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

Published

on

SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

Toxic backlinks are links that some SEO tools say could hurt your website’s Google rankings. The implication is that you should disavow them to keep your site safe.

But there’s some disagreement and confusion among SEOs as to whether “toxic” links are actually a thing and what, if anything, you should do about them. 

If you believe Google’s John Mueller, they’re not: 

Yet, according to my poll, the majority (just!) of SEOs think they are: 

So… what’s the deal here? Are toxic backlinks actually a thing? Are they hurting your site? And if so, what should you be doing about them? 

Before we can answer those questions, we need to understand the terminology… 

Every website has some spammy backlinks that just don’t make sense. But that doesn’t necessarily make them manipulative or “toxic.”

For example, here are a couple of obviously spammy links to our site: 

Advertisement
Example of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

We didn’t build or buy either of these, so they’re not “manipulative” by definition. They’re just low-quality links we’ve attracted over time because the internet is rife with spammers. 

If you study Google’s link spam documentation carefully, you’ll see that, in theory, these aren’t the kind of spammy links they have a problem with. They warn only against the ill effects of spam links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. 

Here are the examples Google gives of these manipulative links: 

What Google says are manipulative linksWhat Google says are manipulative links

As for “toxic backlinks,” this is just a term made up by certain SEO tools to describe backlinks they think could hurt your rankings based on several so-called “markers.”

Key takeaway

  • Spammy links are low-quality links that every site attracts through no fault of their own. 
  • Manipulative links are links built or bought solely to improve Google rankings. 
  • Toxic links are links that certain SEO tools say could hurt your website’s rankings. 

If you asked this question before September 2016, the answer would have likely been “yes.”

So what changed? 

Advertisement

Penguin 4.0.

With this algorithm update, Google switched from demoting pages to a system that tries to ignore bad links.

Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site. 

Since then, Google’s stance has been that you can ignore spammy backlinks. 

If you’re seeing individual links that pop up and you say, “oh this looks like a spammer dropped the link” or whatever, I would completely ignore those. […] because these spammy links happen to every website and Google’s system has seen them so many times over the years that we’re very good at just ignoring them. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

But is this true? Is Google really as good at ignoring low-level spam as we’re made to believe? 

Judging by my colleague Chris’s recent poll on LinkedIn, a good chunk of SEOs (38%) don’t think so, as they’re still disavowing them. 

Most SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinksMost SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinks

Does that mean they’re right to do so? Not necessarily. It just means they don’t fully trust Google that they won’t do any harm. They’re being careful. 

Personally, the person I trust most to answer this question in 2024 is Dr. Marie Haynes. I don’t think anyone’s done more research into this than her. She’s spent well over a decade working to understand Google’s search algorithms and auditing link profiles on behalf of business owners. 

Now, the interesting part of that statement (and why I actually trust her!) is the obvious conflict of interest. Until fairly recently, she made her living selling link audit and disavow file creation services—and for a pretty hefty sum at that! 

Advertisement
Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023
Pricing from Marie’s link audit services page in March 2023

Clearly, it would be good news for Marie if Google were still terrible at ignoring spammy backlinks because she could sell more link audits! 

Yet, these days, she no longer appears to offer such services. In fact, she’s actually been warning folks against the need to disavow low-quality, spammy backlinks for a few years. 

Here’s a quote from a 2022 blog post of hers:

While there is no harm in disavowing low quality spammy links, it likely does not help improve rankings. We believe that Google’s algorithms are already ignoring these links. […]. When we do see improvements these days after disavowing, it is always in sites where we have disavowed links that were purposely made for SEO and very little else. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

It’s clear that Marie is being cautious with her words here. But overall, her opinion after digging into this for many years seems to be that, yes, Google is now pretty good at ignoring most low-quality spammy links. 

Does that mean they’re perfect? No. But it does mean that worrying about obvious low-quality link spam is probably a waste of time for most people.

If you’re buying or building the types of links that Google class as “link spam” then, yes, they can absolutely hurt your rankings.

But before you panic about that link exchange you did with your best friend’s wife’s brother, Google is likely looking for patterns of manipulation here. In other words, manipulative link profiles rather than manipulative individual links: 

Advertisement

Danny Richman, founder of Richman SEO Training, agrees: 

Here’s a bit more context from Danny: 

As for Marie Haynes, she echoes a similar sentiment in this post. She states that manual actions aside, she would only recommend a client disavow links if they have “a very large number of links that [they] feel the webspam team would consider to be ‘manipulative.’ ”

In these cases, Google often slaps the worst offenders with an unnatural links manual action. If you get one of those, that’s Google telling you, “Hey… you’re being demoted in search because we think you’ve been trying to game the system with manipulative links.” 

Advertisement

But this doesn’t have to happen for manipulative links to be a problem. It’s possible for Google to algorithmically demote a site if they detect a large volume of spammy and manipulative links, at least according to John Mueller.

If we see a very strong pattern [of spammy links] there, then it can happen that our algorithms say well, we really have kind of lost trust with this website and at the moment based on the bigger picture on the web, we kind of need to be more on almost a conservative side when it comes to to understanding this website’s content and ranking it in the search results. And then you can see kind of a drop in the visibility there. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

Either way, the point remains: it’s patterns of manipulation that are likely to hurt rankings. There’s very little chance that you need to worry about the odd potentially dodgy link here and there. 

While it might be tempting to use an SEO tool that finds “toxic backlinks” for you, I’d seriously urge you to reconsider. Trusting these can do more harm than good. Way more. 

Just look at this unfortunate Redditor’s reply to John Mueller: 

Someone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO toolSomeone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO tool
A 60% drop in traffic! That’s no joke! 

Even if this is an extreme case, worrying about these links likely only wastes time because, according to Marie Haynes, they’re rarely truly toxic: 

I find that the truly toxic links…the ones that could have the potential to harm your site algorithmically (although you’d have to really overdo it, as I’ll describe below), are rarely returned by an SEO tool. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

Sam McRoberts, CEO of VUVU Marketing, seems to agree: 

So… how do you find truly toxic backlinks that are likely to be hurting your site? 

Advertisement

The truth? You might not even need to look for them. If you haven’t built or bought links that Google considers link spam at any reasonable scale, chances are you’re good. 

If you’re not confident about that, do a manual backlink audit with a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

The Anchors report is a good starting point if you’ve never done this. It shows you the words and phrases people use when linking to you. If they look unnatural or over-optimized (lots of exact matches of keywords you’re trying to rank for), that could be a sign you have paid or other links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Example of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinksExample of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinks

If things look fishy there, use the Backlinks report to dig deeper and check the context of those links. It’s usually quite easy to spot paid and unnatural ones. 

The Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlinkThe Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlink

Just remember that you’re looking for patterns of unnatural links, not just one or two. 

WARNING

If you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for when doing a backlink audit, hire someone who knows what they’re doing. You need to be confident that the links are truly “toxic.”

Advertisement

If you have a manual action for unnatural links or a bunch of what you believe to be truly toxic backlinks, yes. Google’s advice is to disavow them (assuming you can’t get the links removed). 

You should disavow backlinks only if: 

You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, 

AND

The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site. 

Marie Haynes advises the same: 

There are two situations where we will recommend to our clients a thorough link audit followed by filing a disavow: 

  1. The site has a manual action for unnatural links in GSC. 
  2. The site has a very large number of links that we feel the webspam team would consider to be “manipulative”.
Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

If you just have a bunch of spammy backlinks that most sites naturally attract or the odd paid backlink, probably not. Google probably ignores most, if not all, of these links, so disavowing them is likely a waste of time. 

While there is no harm in disavowing these links other than the time spent analyzing them, there is likely no benefit either. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

But what about negative SEO?

Being the victim of a negative SEO attack is indeed the possible exception here. This is when a competitor sends a load of spammy or toxic backlinks your way to try to get your site penalized. 

Advertisement

Google remains adamant that it basically never works, but it really comes down to what you believe. 

[I’ve] looked at hundreds of supposed cases of negative SEO, but none have actually been the real reason a website was hurt. […] While it’s easier to blame negative SEO, typically the culprit of a traffic drop is something else you don’t know about–perhaps an algorithm update or an issue with their website. 

Gary IllyesGary Illyes

If you see a traffic drop after an influx of backlinks in Site Explorer, I’d say that it’s at least worth a bit more investigation. 

Site with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinksSite with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinks
This site experienced a traffic drop coinciding with an influx of referring domains. Maybe there’s benefit to disavowing here… and maybe it’s something else!

As Gary said above, something else could be to blame—but you never know. There’s always a chance that Google’s algorithms rule it was you who built or bought those backlinks to try to manipulate rankings and penalize you for it. 

If you just found a bunch of so-called “toxic backlinks” in an SEO tool, probably not. Again, most of these are probably just link spam Google already ignores. 

Here’s yet another quote from Marie Haynes backing this up: 

While there is probably no harm in disavowing [links reported as toxic in SEO tools], you are not likely to see any improvement as a result. Disavowing is meant for sites trying to remove a manual action and for those who have been actively building links for the purpose of improving rankings. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

There’s also the risk that you could end up disavowing links that are actually helping you… 

Patrick showed further evidence that this can absolutely happen when he experimented with disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog. Traffic dipped, then went back up after he removed the disavow. 

The impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blogThe impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog

Final thoughts

“Toxic backlinks” is a term made up by certain SEO tools to scare you. That’s not to say bad links can’t hurt your site. They absolutely can. But fortunately for most site owners, it’s rarely a problem worth worrying all that much about. 

Got questions? Disagree? Ping me on Twitter X.

Advertisement



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

Published

on

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:

Advertisement
  • 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. 

Advertisement

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:

Advertisement
  • 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. 

Advertisement

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.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending

Follow by Email
RSS