Case study: On-page + off-page SEO working together = success

I encounter many people who believe the basic blocking and tackling of search engine optimization (SEO) execution is losing its value, but I find doing this basic hard work still works incredibly well.
In today’s post, I’m going to share a case study of a travel site whose business plan incorporates a straightforward approach to creating highly differentiated content on their site and then promoting that content effectively. They believe in building and marketing content with a high focus on the end user, and as you will see, the results are impressive.
Disclosure: The company discussed in this post, kimkim, is a client of my company.
Business overview
kimkim is an online travel company founded by a team of experienced entrepreneurs and engineers who played key roles at companies including TripAdvisor and EveryTrail. Their mission is to push the travel industry toward a more authentic and local experience while still maintaining high quality and consumer trust. This is achieved by partnering

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What to get right before launching a global business

Taking your brand to an international stage is exciting. You reach untapped audiences and expose your brand, product and services to a global market!
But with every great opportunity come challenges, and a global presence means time and resources must be dedicated to understanding new buying habits, laws, and, of course, online behaviors.
Today, search results are more and more personalized, and they vary by country, even if browsers, devices and search terms remain the same. With the search engines constantly changing and evolving, what happens when you add the international component to your website?
Before you kick off a global campaign, it’s important to develop a marketing strategy with a local audience in mind. Consider the following four points on how to best engage your target audience, bridge cultural differences and successfully promote your brand globally.
Become familiar with regional laws & regulations
When you market to a global audience, your brand should be aware of all regional regulations on specific

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How AI can uncover new insights and drive SEO performance

In 2015, Google announced that it had added RankBrain to its algorithm, cementing the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in search. Fast-forward to 2018, and search marketers are starting to use AI, machine learning and deep learning systems to uncover new insights, automate labor-intensive tasks and provide a whole new level of personalization to guide website visitors through their purchase funnel. We have now fully entered the AI revolution.
For clarity and for context within this article, I find the following definitions helpful:

Artificial intelligence is a broad field, covering a range of machine applications to carry out tasks that typically require human intelligence. Human intelligence encompasses a broad range of behaviors, so it should be no surprise that the umbrella term “artificial intelligence” can be used to categorize natural language processing, chess playing, driverless cars and millions of examples in between.
Machine learning is often conflated with AI, but it is actually an application (and therefore a subfield) of artificial intelligence. In

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The unique selling proposition: A key element for SEO success

Google processes trillions of searches per year, which equates to billions of searches each day. How do they decide what is the most promising result for every single one of that staggering volume of questions?
Experience shows that you don’t have to be a huge website for a major brand to rank in the top spot for a given query. Google doesn’t care which sites show up high in SERPs, as long as the page lives up to user expectations, which is something they measure on a tremendous scale. That begs the question: What is it that makes a page stand out, as far as Google is concerned? Why do pages rank in Google in the long term?
Ask why
Google factors in hundred of signals when calculating a website’s ranking for queries in Google Search. These include everything from site speed to inbound links to page content. Above all, however, Google seems to favor sites that are popular with users.

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Looking back at 2018 in search: A time traveler’s year in review

Greetings from the future! I’m writing to you from January 2019. Since search is such a dynamic space, with every year bringing unexpected developments, I thought it would be helpful to use my knowledge as a denizen of the future to give you a glimpse into what’s to come in 2018. So for you, this is a look forward — but for me, it’s a year in review. And let me warn you, you’d best buckle up!
(Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Sorry folks, I can’t tell you which cryptocurrencies take off, as I promised some guy named Doc Brown I wouldn’t, but I can say that AI-investment programs sure do a number on it.)
The top stories in search in 2018
The big question for Search Engine Land readers, of course, is, What the heck will happen in search in 2018? Obviously, I can’t cover everything, but here are the top stories that will make

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A year in review: Search Engine Land’s top 10 columns of 2017

Another year is coming to a close, and search marketers of all stripes have had their work cut out for them over the last 12 months as the industry grappled with everything from fake news to mysterious algorithm updates to automation. Fortunately, our talented contributors were at the ready, helping our readers to navigate the shifting sands of the search marketing landscape.
Local had a strong showing in our top columns this year, as pieces with a local search focus accounted for three of the top 10 columns on Search Engine Land. These ranged from Joy Hawkins’s detailed account of the Google Hawk update to Wesley Young’s helpful tips on how to improve your Google My Business listing.
Top honors went to Sherry Bonelli for her comprehensive piece on how to rank well in YouTube’s search results. As digital video consumption continues to rise, brands are looking to take advantage of this trend by producing high-quality — and properly optimized —

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How to generate links that drive traffic, not just ranking

Many people see link building as a way to drive rankings. But, when done correctly, it can (and should) also drive traffic.
Driving traffic has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious potential increase in leads and sales. More website traffic can provide valuable analytics data about what users are looking for and what confuses them. It can also help grow engagement and potentially referral links on social media as others begin to share our content.
In this column, I’ll explain how to identify sources of links that drive actual traffic and how to evaluate your progress so that you can focus your efforts where they will have the greatest impact.
Identifying link partners
In order to find good sources for traffic-driving links, there are a few ways you can go: competitor research, rankings and influencers.
First, find the publications driving traffic to your competitors by using tools like SimilarWeb to find their top referral sources. Not only do these tools tell

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Optimizing for Hanukkah: Sometimes it’s still strings, not things

My wife came to me with a problem. She wanted festive, whimsical, and potentially matching Hanukkah pajamas. But there weren’t enough options coming up in Google under one spelling of the holiday’s name, so she told me she was systematically going through all spellings to compile her list of shopping items.
I was pretty surprised by this — I had expected Google to be smart enough to recognize that these were alternative spellings of the same thing, especially post-Hummingbird. Clearly, this was not the case.
Some background for those who don’t know: Hanukkah is actually a transliterated word from Hebrew. Since Hebrew has its own alphabet, there are numerous spellings that one can use to reference it: Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Channukah are all acceptable spellings of the same holiday.
So, when someone searches for “Hanukkah pajamas” or “Chanukah pajamas,” Google really should be smart enough to understand that they are different spellings of the same concept and provide nearly identical

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Visualizing your site structure in advance of a major change

In our last article, we looked at some interesting ways to visualize your website structure to illuminate how external links and PageRank flow through it. This time, we’re going to use the same tools, but we’re going to look instead at how a major site structure change might impact your site.
Search engine crawlers can determine which pages on your site are the most important, based, in part, on how your internal links are structured and organized. Pages that have a lot of internal links pointing to them — including links from the site’s navigation — are generally considered to be your most important pages. Though these are not always your highest-ranking pages, high internal PageRank often correlates with better search engine visibility.
Note: I use the phrase “internal PageRank,” coined by Paul Shapiro, to refer to the relative importance of each page within a single website based on that site’s internal linking structure. This term may be used

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A balanced approach to data-driven SEO

We have nearly unlimited access to information and data. For search marketers, this can be a blessing or a curse. It’s very easy to get sucked into the never-ending pool of data — but this rarely, if ever, benefits our work. So how do we protect ourselves from information overload?
Futurologist Alvin Toffler predicted in 1970 that the rapidly increasing amounts of information produced would eventually cause people problems. More than a few times, I’ve found myself overwhelmed and overloaded with information, and my guess is that you have also experienced this phenomenon.
If you take your SEO seriously, then you understand the necessity of tracking your efforts — after all, data is at the core of good SEO.
Management thinker Peter Drucker is often credited as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” While I agree completely with the statement, it seems as though some SEOs have resorted to just measuring everything, which is simply not practical. If

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