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What You Need To Know For SEO

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What You Need To Know For SEO

Meta tags are the most fundamental part of SEO and making sure that your site’s pages have a good, solid foundation of optimization.

These are the tags that you add to your page’s header to describe the page using syntax that Google understands.

And when it comes to SEO, more often than not, best practices for meta tags are ignored while others take priority.

Sometimes, things like content and links may take priority over things like meta tags. That’s understandable, because content and links can be more important.

But making sure that you optimize these tags correctly can help significantly in terms of how Google understands your page.

For example, a quality meta description can mean the difference between poor website performance in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and better website performance, especially when it comes to a site’s click-through rate (CTR).

Making sure that you include important meta tags can still get results. It all depends on how you use them.

What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags provide information about the website in the HTML of the page.

Search engines use these pieces of code to help determine what the page is about, and how relevant it is to the keyword being searched.

While this data isn’t visible to visitors, it does play a role in determining where a site appears in search results.

One important meta tag you want to focus on includes the page title: the blue link that appears at the top of the snippet in the search results.

Another important tag you may want to focus on is the meta description, which is often used to show descriptions of pages in search results.

For example, suppose you’re searching for a product like a computer. In that case, the manufacturer’s description of that product (at least, the one it added to the page) might appear in the paragraph snippet below the page title in the search results.

Screenshot from search for [computers], Google, October 2022

Getting Started With Meta Tags

Meta tags are one of the first things you’ll see in a site audit report. They appear in the header above the page content and provide important information about a page.

The first step in understanding what meta tags do is to know why you’d use them.

You might want to include certain words in the description of your product or service, such as price range, features, size, etc., and you could use the keywords meta tag to help describe that.

Or maybe you want to let people know where your site is located, like a city, state, or country. You could use the location meta tag.

If you’re writing a blog post, you might want to add a category meta tag to help others find it.

These are just a few examples of what meta tags can accomplish.

There are many different types of meta tags, including title, description, keyword, image alt text, robots, language, and even schema markup.

This article focuses on the most common ones; specifically, descriptions and keywords.

Why Meta Tags Are Important For SEO

When it comes to SEO, meta tags are highly important. Maybe not quite as important as content or links, but still, they are very important to the overall optimization process.

Better title tags may mean the difference between the success or failure of your page.

Having blank meta tags (such as a blank title or meta description) may mean that Google will choose what it thinks are the best ones for your page. Its algorithm is not perfect and could potentially create less than what you might want to see.

This is why it’s important to ensure that you include at least a physical page title and description for your page. Otherwise, you leave it up to Google’s algorithm to choose it.

Page Title Tags

The page title tag is the main descriptive element of your page.

Your title tag is the one thing that everyone sees when they come across your site in the Google search results.

This is why it is crucial to ensure it accurately reflects the page’s content. If you’re writing a blog post, you want to ensure that the page title accurately reflects the post’s content.

You want people to know exactly where they are and what they’re looking at.

While some sites still rank very well despite having poor title tags, others don’t seem to care much about the title tag.

Why do some sites not spend as much effort on the title tag while others continue their usual optimizations? Well, it seems like it depends on the type of site. Some sites focus heavily on video, while others focus heavily on text. Some sites are focused on a specific topic, while others cover multiple topics.

There are many different reasons why a site might choose not to put any effort into its title tags. However, the truth is that having a quality title tag can be a great determining factor in how Google understands your page.

If you’re building a brand new site, you probably won’t need to worry too much about SEO efforts on your title tag. However, once your site starts getting traffic, you’ll want to track things like bounce and conversion rates.

By tracking those metrics, you’ll be able to determine whether the title tag is actually impacting your performance, and where to go from there in terms of how to better optimize it.

Google’s Search Essentials documentation explains the following about page title best practices and how to influence them in the search results correctly:

  • You want to ensure that every single page of your site has a physical title tag with a page title actually specified.
  • Descriptive and concise page titles are Google’s recommendation. It doesn’t want to see anything vague such as “Home” for the home page. Also, it does not want to see “profile” for a person’s profile. Google also recommends avoiding unnecessarily long and verbose text, as it is highly likely to be truncated in the search results.
  • Be sure that you avoid boilerplate and redundant text in your page title. What happens here is that the boilerplate text causes confusion between pages for users as well as search engines. So, Google recommends distinct and descriptive text in your page titles. It also discourages utilizing long text that doesn’t change, with the exception of certain pieces of information. Don’t include text within your page title that’s not useful to users or that would be considered uninformative.
  • Google also doesn’t like keyword stuffing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have descriptive terms in your page title. However, you don’t want to include the same words and phrases many times. Doing so could be similar to keyword stuffing, making your search results look spammy to Google and its users.
  • Branding your page title is an acceptable practice for Google. You can either include it at the beginning of the page title or at the end, per Google’s guidelines. Make sure it’s separate and unique from the rest of the text. In order to accomplish this, you could use a delimiter symbol, which includes colons, pipes, or hyphens. This can help you avoid making your site’s branding look like a repetitive portion of the page title.
  • Make it clear which part of the text is actually the main title. According to Google’s recommendations, it examines a variety of sources when it generates title links. These sources include things like the main visual title, prominent text in the body copy, and heading elements. Google also recommends varying the size of the main title on the page, for example.
  • Google also recommends making sure that your page title matches what’s on the page. Google explains that if it thinks the title doesn’t match the page’s primary content, it might end up choosing different text as part of the page title link. It’s best to have the same page title in <h1> tag to reduce the probability of rewriting by titles on SERP.

What Else Has Google Said About Page Titles?

Aside from its Search Essentials, there are several things that Google has mentioned about page titles that should be observed.

“We do use it for ranking, but it’s not the most critical part of a page. So it’s not worthwhile filling it with keywords to hope that it works that way. In general, we try to recognise when a title tag is stuffed with keywords because that’s also a bad user experience for users in the search results. If they’re looking to understand what these pages are about and they just see a jumble of keywords, then that doesn’t really help.” – John Mueller, Google 2016

“I’d just write natural titles, the way you’d want them to appear in search, and how you’d want to present them for users. Slash (separators) is fine & can perform well anywhere.” – John Mueller, Google 2020

“Of all the ways we generate titles, content from HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time.”– Google Search Central Blog, 2021

“If your document appears in a search results page, the contents of the title tag may appear in the first line of the results.” –Google, 2020

“We introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages. Before this, titles might change based on the query issued. This generally will no longer happen with our new system. This is because we think our new system is producing titles that work better for documents overall, to describe what they are about, regardless of the particular query.” – Google Search Central Blog, 2021

Meta Description Tags

Another meta tag that’s important to SEO is the meta description tag.

This is the very short snippet paragraph underneath the page title within the search results. As long as you utilize a more accurate description than what you can ascertain from the on-page content, Google will use it.

This meta tag is not much of something used for ranking. Instead, it’s something that’s used to entice and inform users about the page in general.

It creates a short and relevant summary of what that specific web page is actually about. In its simplest form, this is basically a sales pitch for your website. It’s meant to convince the user that your page is exactly what they are looking for.

Google explains that there is no limit to the length of the meta description and that it truncates the snippet on the SERPs as needed – and this is usually done on a device-width basis.

Best Practices For Writing Meta Descriptions

Despite the apparent lack of control when it comes to rankings, writing meta descriptions is still an important part of any SEO professional’s arsenal. This can mean the difference between significant CTR from the SERPs, as opposed to sub-standard CTRs.

This is why it makes sense to make both page titles and meta descriptions a focus of your own SEO efforts whenever you optimize a page.

Google’s Search Essentials explains what it looks for in meta descriptions.

Note that meta descriptions should be visible on the webpage. If they are not visible, Google will ignore them in 99% of cases.

Make Sure That Every Meta Description On Your Site Is Unique

Google explains that identical, and even similar, meta descriptions on multiple site pages are not helpful when these pages appear in the SERPs.

It recommends that SEO pros create meta descriptions that are unique and that accurately describe the specific page.

On the main home page (or aggregation pages), it also recommends that you utilize site-level descriptions and then use page-level descriptions on all other types of pages.

Ensure That Your Description Includes Relevant Information About The Content

Google recommends including relevant information within the meta description that reflects the actual page.

For news and blog posts, it explains that these meta descriptions can list the author, the publication date, and byline information that would otherwise not be displayed.

In addition, product pages that have specific information scattered throughout the page that might be helpful for users could be included here, too.

Google adds that any great meta description can provide all the relevant information a user might need to decide to visit that particular page.

Automatically Generating Meta Descriptions

It’s possible to generate your web page’s meta descriptions programmatically. (Not only possible, but Google actively encourages doing so in its Search Essentials documentation.)

This is especially true for larger sites with thousands of pages.

Google doesn’t expect the average user to be able to handwrite meta descriptions on larger sites. It still recommends ensuring that these meta descriptions are varied and human-readable.

For example, don’t go in assuming you can programmatically create meta descriptions that are terrible quality and expect to have a good day from an SEO perspective.

It also recommends avoiding long strings of keywords in the meta descriptions – don’t do that here, either!

Make Sure Your Meta Descriptions Are Of High Enough Quality

Google’s recommendations also highlight the quality of meta descriptions. It also wants to see significantly high quality here – and make sure that your meta descriptions really are descriptive.

What Else Has Google Said About Meta Descriptions?

The Google Search Essentials documentation is a good start, but they don’t contain all the information that Google might consider.

The following is a collection of what Google has said elsewhere on the web about meta descriptions:

“You kind of have to balance your time and think is it really worthwhile to like go through a hundred thousand pages and write a new description or should I just like keep this in mind when I’m making new pages and not worry so much about this limit of a hundred and sixty characters or whatever it used to be because I think especially when we make changes like this they they tend to go back and forth a little bit until we find the right balance.” – John Mueller, 2017

“It’s not the case that changing your descriptions or making them longer or shorter or tweaking them or putting keywords in there will affect your site’s ranking.” – John Mueller 2017

“Because meta descriptions are usually visible only to search engines and other software, webmasters sometimes forget about them, leaving them completely empty. It’s also common, for the same reason, that the same meta description is used across multiple (and sometimes many) pages. On the flip side, it’s also relatively common that the description is completely off-topic, low quality, or outright spammy. These issues tarnish our users’ search experience, so we prefer to ignore such meta descriptions.” – Google 2017

“Keep in mind that we adjust the description based on the user’s query. So if you’re doing a site query and seeing this in your search results for your site that’s not necessarily what a normal user would see when they see a search as well.” – John Mueller, Google 2017

How To Add A Meta Robots Tag To Your Page

The meta robots tag allows you to control indexing and crawling of your pages. In short, this allows you to take advantage of a more granular approach to controlling the indexation of individual pages.

It is important to note that this setting can be read and followed only when the page itself is crawlable and accessible to Google.

For example, don’t think disallowing a page and noindexing it will benefit you.

Although there are situations where Google might ignore the robots.txt file, you want to ensure that, in most cases, you are allowing the crawling and indexing of the page so Google can physically observe that particular rule.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html><head>
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
(…)
</head>
<body>(…)</body>
</html>

The code snippet above shows how to add the meta robots tag to your pages.

In the overall page code structure, this should be added to the top of the page, within the code, between the beginning and ending head tags.

How To Add A Meta Viewport Tag To Your Page

The meta viewport tag is an important part of meta tags that are added to the page and has to do with making sure that your site is a fully responsive website design.

In short, this meta tag provides specific instructions to the browser on how to render your page on a mobile device. This tag also shows Google that the page itself is mobile-friendly.

Setting The Viewport

In general, the rule is to include the viewport meta tag on every page you want optimized for a mobile device. The parameters within this tag control the page’s dimensions and scaling attributes.

First, mobile browsers will render a page at the width of a desktop screen (at its minimum, around 980px, but this can vary across devices).

Then, they will attempt to make the content appear better by adjusting it to fit the screen and increasing font sizes.

As a result, this might mean that font sizes could appear inconsistent to different users. To rectify this, one could potentially just use a system font instead.

The following screenshot shows how to include and configure the meta viewport tag within your code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
 <head>

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
 </head>

How To Add The Meta Charset Tag To Your Web Page

The charset meta tag is a tag that allows you to define specific character encoding for your page. This tag is important because it helps provide the vehicle that the browser uses to output characters to text.

If you don’t have the charset tag defined, a browser might output garbage text because of this lack of understanding of the input text. Without this tag, the browser must make an uninformed guess quickly.

While not extremely important in terms of SEO ranking factors, it is important if you want to make sure that your page is as cross-browser and cross-platform as possible.

If you don’t add it, it’s not the end of the world. The HTML5 specification does include UTF-8 character encoding by default.

But, if you want to use another type of character encoding for your page – for whatever reason – then, by all means, you may want to seriously consider adding this tag in those situations.

No Sitelinks Search Box Meta Tag

Did you know that specific meta tags can help you control the appearance of your search results?

One such meta tag is the no sitelinks search box meta tag:

<meta name="google" content="nositelinkssearchbox">

If, for some reason, you don’t want a sitelinks search box to appear on the Google SERPs, then you can simply use this meta tag to remove it.

Here is how you would implement the nositelinkssearchbox meta tag on pages where you don’t want the search box to appear:

Screenshot of a Sitelinks Search Box example on the Google SERPs.Screenshot from search for [pinterest], Google, October 2022 

Again, this would be added in between the beginning and ending head tags of your page.

For Google Discover

Adding a simple meta tag can increase clicks from Google Discover by 300%. Here’s the code snippet:

"<meta name="robots" content="max-image-preview:large" />"

Meta Tags Are An Important Part Of SEO

There are those who believe that meta tags rank a distant third or fourth on the tier of responsibilities when it comes to optimizing your web pages.

But, when it comes to achieving higher rankings, optimizing your meta tags correctly can sometimes put you ahead of the pack.

Don’t think of them as the be-all and end-all when it comes to your SEO efforts; instead, they are more supplemental in nature.

Just make sure that you continue to keep your meta tags updated as needed. For example, if your pages change, you don’t want to have a different page title and meta description than the content that’s reflected on the page.

You also don’t want to have meta tags that are substandard in quality.

In the end, you want to make sure that you have some focus on optimizing these tags – because they can take a page from mediocre to great.

More resources: 


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System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO

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Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

Want to meet other people interested in SEO offline? Give an SEO meetup a go.

In my experience, it’s one of the best ways to meet like-minded people and provides a more relaxed, informal setting than a bustling SEO conference. Who knows—you could make new friends at a meetup or even land new SEO clients.

But with so many events worldwide, it’s impossible to mention them all. So, here are some of the most talked-about SEO meet-ups I think you should have on your radar.

Okay—so I may be a little biased, but I wanted to start by sharing our Ahrefs’ SEO Events. We’ve run five Beer and Snacks Meetups in Singapore. We’ve also hosted an SEO Workshop and Networking meetup the day before BrightonSEO, and we just launched our London Meetup.

Tickets to the London Meetup sold out in a day and a half—it was our fastest-selling ticketed event ever.

Tim Soulo, Joshua Hardwick, and Ryan Law will speak at our inaugural event, covering topics such as improving your rankings, competitor research, and content marketing. To stay informed about our next event, follow our events page.

Sidenote.

Missed our meetups but still want to catch up with the Ahrefs team and a host of world-class speakers? Get Ahrefs Evolve tickets ✨

London SEO XL MeetupLondon SEO XL Meetup

The LondonSEO Meetup hosts an evening of networking with industry peers and leading experts featuring SEO speakers like Itamar Blauer, Steph Hugman, Reina Hanada, and many more.

The bigger XL event has even hosted prolific search engine news chronicler Barry Schwartz in 2023.

Search London Meetup PhotoSearch London Meetup Photo

With over 2,800 members, Search London is a popular meetup that has been around for over a decade.

Events are organized every 8-12 weeks, and members are from a mixture of agency, client-side, and start-up businesses.

The meet-up is open to anyone in SEO, PPC, or social media—and offers marketing professionals and first-time speakers a safe, supportive space to share their industry knowledge and experiences.

Search 'n Stuff Meetup PhotoSearch 'n Stuff Meetup Photo

Search ‘n Stuff meetups are an energetic and all-embracing community tailored to empower digital marketers, startups, in-house teams, and professionals. Expect sharings centered on strategies, campaigns, and other relevant SEO topics.

Neurodivergents In SEO Meetup PhotoNeurodivergents In SEO Meetup Photo

Neurodivergents in SEO provide a safe space for neurodivergent SEOs to network and learn.

The group holds in-person meetups at BrightonSEO, both in the UK and the US, and monthly pub quizzes with great prizes.

If you’re an SEO or marketer and identify as neurodivergent, you’re more than welcome to join the community. You can do so by signing up here.

Search Norwich PhotoSearch Norwich Photo

Search Norwich launched in 2018 as a free marketing meetup event. It often features top industry speakers who share their knowledge, tips, and advice with the search marketing community. At Search Norwich there are no sales agendas, fluff, or pitches—just valuable insights.

SEOFOMO Meetup PhotoSEOFOMO Meetup Photo

The SEOFOMO meetups are run by SEO superstar Aleyda Solis, who is a well-known SEO speaker and founder of SEO consultancy Orainti. She’ll also be the headline speaker for our first Ahrefs Evolve Conference.

SEOFOMO is a laid-back, free event perfect for learning, connecting, and sharing with other SEOs.

SEO Mastermind PhotoSEO Mastermind Photo

SEO Mastermind is a supportive, free, and friendly SEO community where you can grow your skills, meet like-minded people, and get answers to all your organic marketing questions.

SEO Mastermind meets around eight times a year, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium—but they also occasionally have meetups in other locations, for instance, at Brighton SEO and ISS Barcelona.

Organizer Jeroen Stikkelorum told me that SEO Mastermind is on a mission to build the most valuable Dutch-spoken SEO and organic marketing community in The Netherlands and Belgium. So if you’re local, give it a go.

SEO Lager Fest Meetup PhotoSEO Lager Fest Meetup Photo

SEO Lager Fest is a fun SEO meetup that (apart from drinking) enables you to network with like-minded folks in the SEO industry. They hold an SEO quiz, run case study competitions, do AMAs, and even do SEO charades.

SEOnerd Switzerland Meetup PhotoSEOnerd Switzerland Meetup Photo

SEOnerdSwitzerland is a volunteer-run association that organizes events for SEOs in Switzerland and beyond.

Dedicated to fair opportunities and diversity, they provide training and coaching for people wanting to break through as a public speaker in the SEO industry.

SEOnerdSwitzerland also offers training and coaching for speakers, aiming for a diverse and inclusive panel.

WebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, AustriaWebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, Austria

WebSchrona is a free monthly meetup for SEO and online marketing professionals in Salzburg, Austria. They meet every second Thursday at 6 p.m.

There’s no fixed agenda, so discussions are often unplanned and spontaneous and often involve a drink of some description.

Organizer Alexander Außermayr tells me that everyone is welcome to join their SEO meetups. The aim is to provide a regular, uncomplicated meetup in an open space—often a beer garden, if the weather is good.

SEO Benelux Meetup PhotoSEO Benelux Meetup Photo

SEO Benelux started in 2018 as a Facebook community for Dutch and Belgian SEO specialists. The meetup grew into the largest in the Benelux region, with more than 3,000 members.

There are four meetups each year, two in Belgium (Ghent and Antwerp) and one in the Netherlands (mostly Amsterdam). Each meetup attracts 70–90 people and features three speakers.

If you don’t live in a big city, it may be difficult to find a good meetup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any in your local area.

Here are my tips to help you find new meetups near you.

Tip 1 – Use Google’s advanced search operators to uncover new meetups

As new meetups pop up all the time and often without notice, it’s worth doing some digging to see what’s out there.

You can just do a regular ol’ Google search, but we’re SEOs—so let’s use some advanced search operators and spice it up a bit.

In this example, I searched for the phrase “meetup” in the title, plus my location and my favorite SEO tool, and it managed to uncover Tim’s tweet on our London Meetup.

Advanced Google Search Operators ExampleAdvanced Google Search Operators Example

This is just a very basic example, and you could use any website or location, but it shows how you can uncover information about new meetups with a little research.

Tip 2 – Trigger the Events SERP feature

By searching for events or events near me, you can trigger the Events SERP feature. In the example below, I found a few SEO-related events by prepending “SEO” to the search.

Triggering the Events SERP Feature ExampleTriggering the Events SERP Feature Example

Once you’ve triggered the feature, scroll down until you find an SEO meetup that catches your eye.

Tip 3 – Use Meetup to find an SEO meetup

If you can’t find anything on Google then it’s a good idea to run a quick check on a specialist community platform.

One of the most popular platforms is Meetup. It allows you to find events near your location on any topic.

Meetup.com screenshotMeetup.com screenshot

Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of smaller meetups through this website, and they have always been interesting and a place to make new connections.

Tip 4 – No SEO meetup in your area? Start your own!

I started my own mini-meetup in 2018 on WhatsApp with some former colleagues, imaginatively titled #seodrinks.

#SEOdrinks meetup logo#SEOdrinks meetup logo

It started from humble beginnings in a room in a small pub in London, and it’s still in a room in a small pub—somewhere in London. (If you want an invite, let me know on LinkedIn.)

We only have semi-regular meetups in London and a small group, but every meetup has to start somewhere.

If you want to start your own SEO meetup, platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram are the best free places to start, but if you want a more specialized paid option, you could try Meetup or another similar platform.

Final thoughts

You don’t always have to attend a big SEO conference to meet other amazing people in the industry. Some of the smaller meetups I’ve been to have resulted in making more contacts than the bigger conferences.

As such, SEO meet-ups are one of my favorite ways to meet people who are just as interested in SEO and marketing as much as you are.

Did I miss an SEO meetup? Add your SEO meetup here, or let me know on LinkedIn.



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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

SEO and content marketing are different marketing channels. But you don’t have to choose between them. They’re complementary.

In fact, you should combine them for greater effectiveness in your marketing.

Two main reasons:

1. Content marketing and SEO are like peanut butter and jelly—they work well together

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers.

Here’s how SEO helps content marketing:

The web's largest traffic referrersThe web's largest traffic referrers

SEO is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engines to get more traffic.

Here’s how content marketing helps SEO:

  • It helps you get more search traffic — If you want more search traffic, you need to rank for more keywords, which requires you to make more content.
  • It makes SEO more effective — Thought leadership content acquires backlinks, gated content generates leads, and sales enablement converts traffic into sales.

2. The same amount of investment in effort, money, and time can generate results for both content marketing and SEO

We’re the perfect example. Our content ranks high on Google and generates hundreds of thousands of monthly search visitors:

Ahrefs blog trafficAhrefs blog traffic

It also attracts links and shares on social media because we make sure each piece is unique and not just regurgitation or “AI content”.

LinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of viewLinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of view

Finally, each piece of content introduces visitors to our product and educates them on how to use it to solve their problems. (Keep on reading and you’ll see it in action too!)

Example of how we introduce our product in our contentExample of how we introduce our product in our content

It hits all content marketing and SEO goals at once:

  • Acquires search traffic ✅
  • Builds thought leadership ✅
  • Attracts links ✅
  • Generates sales (over the long-term) ✅

How do we do what we do? Believe it or not, there’s a method to the madness. Here’s one line that summarizes our entire SEO content marketing strategy:

We create and maintain high-quality, product-led, search-focused content about topics with business potential and search traffic potential.

Let me break down how we combine SEO and content marketing:

If you want to acquire search traffic, you need to target topics that your potential customers are searching for.

The easiest way to find these keywords is to use a keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer:

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a few broad keywords related to your site or niche
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Filter for keywords with traffic potential (TP)
Matching terms report in Keywords ExplorerMatching terms report in Keywords Explorer

Sidenote.

Traffic Potential is the estimated monthly organic search traffic to the top-ranking page for a keyword. Since pages tend to rank for many keywords, Traffic Potential is a more reliable estimate than search volume.

Go through the report and pick out the keywords that are relevant to your site. For example, if I were an ecommerce store selling coffee equipment, this could be a potential keyword to target:

The keyword "best coffee grinder"The keyword "best coffee grinder"

A keyword’s business potential is how easy it will be to pitch your product while covering a certain topic. It’s our ‘trade secret’—it’s why we can easily introduce our product and its features in every piece of content we create.

Here’s how to score a topic’s business potential:

Business potential scoring chartBusiness potential scoring chart

So, taking the above example, the topic “best coffee grinder” would score a “3” (provided we sell coffee grinders) whereas a topic like “does decaf coffee have caffeine” would score a “1” or even a “0”.

You should prioritize topics that score high on business potential, i.e. a “2” or a “3”.

What does all of the jargon mean? Let’s break it down.

Search-focused

Part one of being ‘search-focused’ is finding keywords that people are searching for. Part two is to figure out why they’re searching for those particular keywords. This ‘why’ is known as search intent.

Given that Google’s goal is to always rank the most relevant content, we can look at the search engine results (SERPs) to uncover search intent. Take your target keyword, enter it into Keywords Explorer, scroll down to SERP Overview, and click Identify intents:

Identify intents feature in Keywords ExplorerIdentify intents feature in Keywords Explorer

So, we can see that searchers looking for the keyword “best coffee grinders” want detailed reviews and expert recommendations on the best coffee grinders. Not only that, we can also see that searchers want a list that is fresh.

Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"

If we’re targeting this topic, making it search-focused means matching this search intent—we’ll need to create a list of the best coffee grinders for the current year.

Product-led

Product-led means ensuring you’re not just creating content for the sake of it; you’re also ‘selling’ your product. You want to be aware of which use case, feature, or service you want to weave into the narrative. Naturally, of course.

Scoring a topic’s business potential would have done 90% of the work here. If you’re creating content about a topic that scored a “3”, then your product pitch would be natural. For example, we could easily add links back to our coffee equipment store after covering the best coffee grinders. Or, if we make our coffee grinders, we could pitch them as one of the best. (That’s why I say the business potential score is our secret ingredient.)

The challenge comes when you’re covering topics that score a “1” or “0”. It’s not impossible, but you’ll need to be creative.

For example, I recently covered the topic “SEO specialist”. It had a business potential of “1” and was tough to include a product pitch. Fortunately, I noticed that some job listings asked for experience with different SEO toolsets (including us.) It was the perfect segue to introduce our product and certification course.

An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1

High-quality

This is subjective. Everyone’s standards are different. But here’s how we think of quality:

  • Accurate — No hype, no lying. Every statement we make should be as accurate as possible.
  • Clear — No fluff—delete all unnecessary words and sentences. Use jargon only when needed. When necessary, create illustrations to expand on ideas and concepts.
  • Helpful — Being product-led is important but the content should not just be aimed at pitching. The content should be focused primarily on helping visitors solve their problems, while creatively weaving our product into the context.
  • Unique — One way to make your content unique is to have skin in the game—conduct experiments, run data studies, and write from personal experience. If having skin is difficult, then interview practitioners. Focus on did, not could.

The deterioration of your content is inevitable:

  • Search-focused — Your rankings may drop because of competitors. Or you didn’t even rank the first time round. Or your target topic’s search intent changed (e.g., the word corona’s search intent changed during the void years of 2020-2022.)
  • Product-led — You may have new features, services, or use cases to introduce. Or your team has depreciated certain features or abandoned some services.
  • High-quality — Statements may become inaccurate over time. Or your unique idea was so successful that everyone else copied you (and outranked you.) Or you might have better ways to reword sentences and paragraphs. Or just simply the ideas, screenshots, and content has become outdated.

That’s why you don’t build a train track and disappear. You have to actively maintain it to keep it working. (I’m looking at you London tube.) Same goes for your content.

The way to maintain your content is to conduct regular content audits. We do this every quarter—Each writer on our blog team goes through their portfolio of articles and selects at least three pieces to update. Each writer may also choose a couple to do a full rewrite.

I highly recommend going through our content audit template so you can see what went wrong with your content and what to do with it next.

Final thoughts

SEO and content marketing may be different marketing types, but that doesn’t mean you need to do one to the exclusion of the other.

Both channels are highly compatible and as you see above, can be designed as an entire strategy that hits all important marketing objectives.



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