SEO case study: Zero to 100,000 visitors in 12 months

You need more traffic.
More visitors on your site means more impressions, more signups, more purchases — more revenue.
But how do you capture more traffic from search results that are becoming more crowded, more diverse, and evolving in the way they are delivered?
With SEO, of course!
Today, I want to share a process we’ve developed at Siege Media to earn links and visibility, and to increase web traffic for our clients. I’m going to walk through how we built a site’s SEO strategy from the ground up — growing from zero visitors to 100,000 — and share key takeaways that you can apply to your own strategy.

The general outline of our strategy was:

Start slow and take advantage of “easy wins.”
Focus on securing a handful of strategic links to important pages.
Establish passive link acquisition channels to build momentum.
Be intentional about content creation and its impact on search.
Level up over time, and target higher-value opportunities.

Let’s dive into the case study.
Note: We had control over

Search Engine Land Source

The role of traditional public relations in SEO

If you’re doing search engine optimization (SEO) properly today, then a significant portion of your effort will overlap with traditional public relations (PR).
This is because over the last few years, Google has minimized the effects of easily gameable ranking signals and refined their algorithm to better represent user experience. In other words, websites that satisfy their users tend to rank better than those that do not.
Inbound links are still a critical component of any SEO campaign, but the easy link-building tactics of the past have been wiped off the board, largely thanks to Google’s Penguin update(s). This includes buying links, guest blogging at scale, embedding links in plugins or themes and more.
The only type remaining as valuable and effective over the long term are the proverbial Holy Grail of link building: natural editorial links from high-traffic, authoritative websites.
And therein lies the challenge: How do we earn these coveted editorial links? Well, it’s a two-part equation.
The first part

Search Engine Land Source

Relevance vs. authority: Which link has more value? (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on relevance versus authority in link building. In this series, I’m sharing expert opinions from around the SEO industry. The question I asked these experts was:
“All other metrics being equal, would you rather have a high-authority link with lower relevance or a highly relevant link with low authority?”
In Part 1, I shared answers from those who opted for a highly relevant link over a high-authority link. They made some excellent points about the merits of relevance.
However, there were also a fair number of respondents who made a case for authority, which I will share here. This is why I wanted to explore this topic with industry experts — there are valid points to be made on both sides.
Expert opinions: Authority
Without further ado, let’s go through the answers that favored authority.
Authority links impact search more
Some of the experts who chose the high-authority link cited the impact these links can have on search.

“As far as I’ve seen, I’d

Search Engine Land Source

Link free or die

Why are we so afraid of links?
Back in the old days of SEO, we loved any link if it was free, even if it was from a spammy scraper site or the lowest-quality directory you’ve ever seen. If we did nothing to get that link, it was a great link. People assumed that all links were beneficial — and that even “bad” links were completely harmless, with no potential to cause damage.
Then we started to get scared… and we nofollowed links. We performed loads of link analysis and reached out to sites that we thought were spammy and asked to have our links removed. Oh, and let’s not forget that time period where we were terrified of exact-match anchors and then built 50 links that all said “Click here.”
I’m surely leaving out other critical changes, but the bottom line is that links freak most of us out, whether we’re building them or they’re being built for our site.
Let’s break down five of the

Search Engine Land Source

Organic traffic & link building for small businesses

When it comes down to it, the hardest part of SEO for most small businesses is building links and authority. Keyword research, on-page optimization, local SEO — it’s all doable, and to some degree mechanical. But raising your authority? Not so much.
While the importance of links is clear, Google’s messaging is confusing and unhelpful. We are told to “make sure other sites link to yours” while at the same time “avoiding link building as it can do more harm than good.” So, what’s a small business to do?
In this article, I am going to take a quick look at why links influence results and then outline a simple link-building strategy. The goal is to help small businesses build authority and target the commercial search terms that matter to them.
There is still a creative element required here, but my goal is to provide a simple strategy that small businesses can use to help build their authority and improve their

Search Engine Land Source

Missed link-building opportunities: Reclaiming broken links

It’s inevitable. Despite your best efforts to prevent them, there will likely be some 404 errors showing up on your website for old pages that have been discontinued on your site. Or perhaps someone just inadvertently mistyped the URL they were linking to on your website.
Certainly, 404 errors aren’t great for search engine indexing, but they also represent potential inbound links that are now broken and lost. Or can those links be reclaimed? I have two techniques you might want to try.
Reclaiming broken links with Google Search Console
Google Search Console is free, making it a popular choice for attaining link information about a website. However, as Russ Jones, principal search scientist at Moz, wrote in a thought-provoking post about the true reliability of Google Search Console data, much of the data in Google Search Console, especially around linking, isn’t always terribly accurate. This is due in part to the speed at which Google indexes various pages that may contain

Search Engine Land Source

Organic Search Party: Our Top SEO Columns of 2016

Each year brings a plethora of changes to search engine optimization, and 2016 was no different. From the rollout of Accelerated Mobile Pages to the long-awaited real-time Penguin update, the SEO world had a lot of exciting news to digest this year. With the help of our All Things SEO and Link Week columnists, readers were able to stay informed and adapt to these changes as needed.
As the SEO industry matures, the skills needed to remain on the cutting edge have become increasingly complex. This was evident in the fact that two of our top ten SEO columns were primers on more technical topics like implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages and making the switch to HTTPS. Search optimizers are clearly looking to up their game by learning about more advanced topics.
Or are they? Also popular this year were pieces targeting those who are new to the industry, such as Stephan Spencer’s “7 quick SEO hacks for the SEO newbie” and

Search Engine Land Source

How to avoid an outbound link penalty from Google

Most of us are aware of link penalties that occur if you have low-quality or spam links pointing to your site. But did you know you can also be penalized by Google for how you link to other websites from your site? Yup, you sure can. It’s called an “unnatural outbound links” penalty, and similar to the inbound link penalty, it can be applied partially or sitewide.
Recently, we conducted an audit for a new client, and we flagged the spammy linking that was being done in a particular section of their site. The content manager was unknowingly allowing guest bloggers to submit content to be published with links pointing back to their sites. This content contained a high volume of links and overoptimized anchor text.
Our recommendations to remove these links were ignored and not seen as high-priority, despite our efforts to convey the severity of this issue.
Then Google released the Penguin 4 real-time update. Soon after, our client’s site was flagged for a

Search Engine Land Source

9 hard truths about links

Countless articles about links are written every day. Many of them are excellent, filled with some really good tips to help you do well. Some of them are awful, full of bad advice. However, the biggest thing that bugs me about link-building advice is this: a lot of it pretends to offer guarantees.
People talk about how to Penguin-proof sites, how to avoid being manually penalized and so on. As an extremely paranoid link builder who has seen many examples of unfairness online, I don’t believe there are any guarantees, and below you’ll see why that is.
1. No link is risk-free
How many types of links have previously been acceptable, only to eventually be written into Google’s guidelines as being a link scheme or some other violation?
For example, theoretically, a nofollowed link should be risk-free. Would I bet on it? Nope. And honestly, who has a profile full of only nofollowed links? That would look very strange, no? What’s going to happen

Search Engine Land Source

I’ll stop the world and link with you

I’m sure you get a bazillion emails a day. I feel like I spend half my time weeding through them because I’m afraid I’ll miss something legitimate. I might open one out of every 30 emails that come from someone I don’t recognize.
The latest outreach email that really grabbed my attention had several things going for it:
First, it was very personalized but not over-the-top stalky. I’m a huge fan of the English character Alan Partridge, and Josh (the sender) knew that from Twitter. The subject was a famous line of Alan’s (“Smell my cheese!”), and the whole email was very funny and clever.
It was obvious that he knew how to get my attention, but he did it with something other than a cash offer or a “Please please please!! Please do this!!!” rant.
See below:

It was short and sweet: five lines. I knew what he was asking me to do. Sounds simple, but I have pored over some outreach emails where

Search Engine Land Source