The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

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March 24, 2019
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, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Today I’m going to show you a VERY effective SEO strategy for 2019.

(Step-by-step)

In fact, I recently used these exact steps to rank #1 in Google for “Video SEO”.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And “keyword research tool”.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Let’s dive right in…

Step #1: Find an “Opportunity Keyword”

Let’s face it:

A #1 ranking isn’t what it used to be.

That’s because Google keeps adding stuff to the search results.

For example, look at the keyword “SEO Tools”:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Like most search results, you’ve got ads at the top of the page.

Plus, a Featured Snippet:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

A “People also Ask” box:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

THEN you get to the #1 result:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

That’s why you want to focus on Opportunity Keywords.

Opportunity Keywords are keywords with a high organic click-through-rate (CTR).

How about an example?

I recently created a post optimized around the term “SEO Audit”:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And “SEO Audit” is an Opportunity Keyword.

Sure, there are ads:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

But that’s actually a good thing.

(More ads=higher commercial intent)

Other than ads, there isn’t a lot to distract people from the organic search results:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

You can also estimate organic CTR with Ahrefs.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

For example, when I put “SEO Audit” into Ahrefs, it says that the keyword gets 4.1k searches per month.

But more important than the raw search volume is the fact that 61% of searchers click on a result.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Not bad.

Which leads us to…

Step #2: Analyze Google’s First Page

OK, so you found an Opportunity Keyword.

Now it’s time to see what’s already working for that keyword.

To do that, just type your keyword into Google.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Scan the top 10 results:

And jot down any patterns that you notice.

For example, the SERPs for “SEO Tools” is PACKED with lists of tools:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

So you’d want to jot down: “lots of list posts”.

Then, move onto step #3…

Step #3: Create Something Different… Or Better

When it comes to SEO content, you’ve got two options:

Option #1: You can create something different.

Option #2: You can create something better.

Here’s how…

Different

Sometimes you want to create something bigger and better than what’s out there.

(aka The Skyscraper Technique)

But sometimes you’re better off with content that’s completely different.

Why?

Because it helps your content STAND OUT.

For example:

A few months ago I sat down to write a piece of content optimized around: “Mobile SEO”.

And I noticed Google’s first page was littered with list posts, like: “X Ways to Mobile Optimize Your Site.”

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Now:

I could have created a BIGGER list post like: “150 Ways to Mobile Optimize Your Site”.

But that wouldn’t make any sense.

Instead, I created something totally different.

Specifically, I published an ultimate guide to mobile optimization.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And because my content stood out, it got a ton of shares:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Comments:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And most important of all, backlinks:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Better

This is a lot more straightforward.

All you need to do is find out what’s working…

…and publish something WAY better.

For example:

A while back I noticed that most content about “SEO tools” only listed 10-20 tools.

And I knew that publishing another list of 20 tools wouldn’t work.

So I decided to create a list of 188 SEO tools.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And it did GREAT.

In fact, it now ranks in the top 3 for the keyword “SEO Tools”:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Step #4: Add a Hook

Here’s the deal:

If you want to rank in 2019, you need backlinks.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Question is:

HOW?!

First, you need to figure out WHY people link to content in your industry.

(“The Hook”)

Then, include that “Hook” in your content.

For example:

Last year I noticed more and more bloggers writing about voice search.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

I noticed something else too:

When people wrote about voice search, they linked to content that featured stats and data:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

So I decided to do a voice search study that was PACKED with stats:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And it worked!

To date, this single post has racked up 848 backlinks:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And 90%+ of these backlinks cite a specific stat from my post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

That said:

Data is just one type of Hook that you can use to get links to your content.

Here are 3 other Hooks that are working great right now:

New Approaches and Strategies

Think about it:

What do bloggers and journalists LOVE writing about?

New stuff!

And if you create something new, you’ve got yourself a hook.

For example, a few years ago, I coined the phrase “Guestographics”.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

This was a new strategy that no one knew about.

And because Guestographics were new (and had a unique name), 1,200 people have linked to my post so far:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Massive Guides

When you publish a massive guide, your guide itself is The Hook.

I’ll explain with an example…

A few years back I published Link Building: The Definitive Guide.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

It was (and still is) the most complete guide to link building out there.

Here’s where things get interesting…

Every now and again a blogger will mention “link building” in a post.

But they don’t have room to cover the entire topic.

So they link to my guide as a way for their readers to learn more:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Very cool.

Case Study Results

Case studies are GREAT for getting links.

But to get links to your case study, you need to feature a specific result.

For example, a while back I published this case study:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

This was a SUPER in-depth case study.

But I didn’t feature ONE result in the post.

Instead, I listed out 20+ results:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Which meant my case study didn’t have a single Hook for people to link to.

And very few people linked to it.

Flash forward to a few years later when I published this case study:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

This time, I focused on ONE result (a 785% increase in my blog’s conversion rate):

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And that single result was The Hook that led to hundreds of links:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Nice!

Step #5: Optimize For On-Page SEO

This step is all about keyword-optimizing your content for SEO.

And here are the 3 on-page SEO strategies that are working best for me right now:

Internal Linking

Yup, internal linking still works.

But you have to do it right.

Specifically, you want to link FROM high-authority pages TO pages that need authority.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

(And use keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links)

For example, I published Google Search Console: The Definitive Guide earlier this year.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

So I found a page on my site with a ton of authority…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

…and linked from that page to my new guide.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Simple.

Short, Keyword-Rich URLs

Our analysis of 1 million Google search results found something that surprised a lot of people:

When it comes to search engine optimization, short URLs crush long URLs.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

That’s why I make my URLs either just my keyword…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

… Or my target keyword plus one more word:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Either way works.

Semantic SEO

Finally, I optimize my content for Semantic SEO.

In other words:

I find words that are related to my target keyword.

Then, I use those terms in my content.

Here are the deets:

First, pop your keyword into Google Images.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And Google will give you words and phrases they consider closely-related to that topic:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Second, type the same keyword into normal Google search. And scroll down to the “Searches related to…” section.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Finally, sprinkle some of those terms into your content:

And you’re set.

Step #6: Optimize For User Intent

In other words: The Skyscraper Technique 2.0.

I’ll show you how this works with a quick example.

A few years ago I wrote a post about getting more traffic to your site.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

It did OK.

But it never cracked the top 5 for my target keyword (“increase website traffic”).

And when I analyzed Google’s first page, I realized why:

My page didn’t satisfy user intent.

I’ll explain…

Most of the content ranking for “increase website traffic” listed bite-sized traffic tips.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

But my post gave them a high-level process.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

This wasn’t the user experience search engine visitors wanted. So I rewrote my content to match this keyword’s User Intent.

Specifically, I turned my process into a list post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And now that my content matches User Intent, it ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Which led to a 70.43% boost in search engine traffic compared to the old version of the post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

That said:

You can also publish User Intent optimized content right out of the gate.

In fact, that’s what I did with my recent post: The Ultimate SEO Audit.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

I saw that most of the content ranking for “SEO Audit” listed out non-technical steps.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

So I included simple strategies that anyone could use:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

I even emphasized the fact that my audit was non-technical.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

(This hooks people so they don’t bounce back to the search results)

And this User Intent optimization (and my site’s Domain Authority…more on that later) helped my post crack the first page of Google within a month.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Step #7: Make Your Content Look Awesome

Design is THE most underrated part of content marketing.

You can have the best content ever written.

But if it looks like this…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

…it’s not gonna work.

That’s why I invest A LOT of time and money into content design.

For example, you’ve probably seen one of my definitive guides:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

These guides are designed and coded 100% from scratch using WordPress.

(Which makes them super expensive to make)

That said:

Great content design doesn’t have to break the bank.

In fact, here are 4 types of visual content that are super easy to pull off.

Graphs and Charts

These work so well that I try to include at least one chart in every post.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Why?

Because they make data EASY to understand.

For example, take this stat from my mobile SEO guide.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time picturing 27.8 billion ANYTHING.

So I had our designer create a nice chart.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

As a bonus, people will sometimes use your chart in a blog post… and link back to you:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Screenshots and Pictures

You might have noticed that I use LOTS of screenshots in every post.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

In fact, this single post has 78 screenshots:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

To be clear:

I don’t use screenshots just for the sake of using screenshots.

I only use them if it helps someone implement a specific step.

For example, these screenshots make the 2 steps from this guide dead-simple to follow:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

That said:

Screenshots only make sense when you describe something technical.

What if you’re in a non-technical niche… like fitness?

Well, pictures serve the same purpose.

For example, my friend Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness uses pictures to show you how to do exercises the right way:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Blog Post Banners

Unlike graphs and screenshots, blog post banners serve no practical purpose.

They just look cool ?

Depending on the post, I either use a right-aligned 220×200 image…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

…or a giant banner at the top of the post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Graphics and Visualizations

Graphics and visualizations are kind of like charts.

But instead of visualizing data, they visualize concepts.

To be clear:

These DON’T have to be fancy.

For example, in this post I explain how all 4 versions of your site should redirect to the same URL:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

This isn’t rocket science.

But it’s hard to picture this idea in your mind.

So our designer made a simple visual that makes this concept easy to understand.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Now it’s time to actively build links to your content.

Specifically, we’re going to tap into 3 link building strategies that are working GREAT right now.

Broken Link Building

Here’s where you find a broken link on someone’s site…

…and offer your content as a replacement.

For example, this is an outreach email that I sent to a blogger in the marketing niche:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

(Note how specific I am. I don’t say “Please consider linking to me in a blog post”. I have a specific place on a specific page where my link makes sense)

And because I helped the person out BEFORE asking for anything, they were happy to add my link:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Competitor Analysis

This strategy is old school.

But it still works.

First, find a site that’s ranking for a keyword you want to rank for.

For example, I’m trying to rank for the keyword “SEO Audit”.

So I grab this result from the first page…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

…and look at their backlinks.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

I can see that this page has links from 160 domains:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

So I should be able to get at least a handful of the same links they have.

To do that, I go one-by-one through their backlinks.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And find pages where my link would add value.

For example, this post mentions the Ahrefs content by name:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

There’s no reason to link to my post there. So I moved onto the next opportunity on the list.

And I came across this post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

This time, the link to Ahrefs is part of a big list of resources.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

A list that would be even BETTER and more complete with a link to my SEO audit post.

Evangelist Method

This strategy is less about links… and more about getting your content in front of the right people.

(Specifically: people that run blogs in your niche)

I’ll explain how this strategy works with an example…

A while back I wanted to promote a new Skyscraper Technique case study.

So I used BuzzSumo to see who recently shared content about The Skyscraper Technique.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And emailed everyone a variation of this template:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And when they replied “sure, I’ll check it out”, I sent them a link to the post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

(Note how I DON’T ask for a share. This is a Judo move that makes your outreach stand out)

Which led to dozens of shares to my brand post:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Step #9: Improve and Update Your Content

This is working amazingly well right now.

You might have read about the time that I used The Content Relaunch to boost my organic traffic by 260.7%:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And I’m happy to tell you that this approach still works.

For example, last year I relaunched this list of SEO techniques.

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

But I didn’t just re-post the same content and call it “new”.

Instead, I went through and removed old screenshots and images:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Added new strategies:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And deleted strategies that didn’t work anymore:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

The result?

An 62.60% organic traffic boost to that page:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Bonus Step #1: Increase Your Domain Authority

This is the ultimate SEO superhack.

When you have a high Domain Authority, SEO gets A LOT easier.

For example, let’s look at the keyword “SEO audit”:

According to Ahrefs, you need backlinks from 108 websites to rank for this term:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

But my content cracked the top 3 within weeks…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

…with only 38 websites linking to me:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

That’s the power of Domain Authority.

Here are 3 ways to increase your Domain Authority:

Content Partnerships

Partnerships can 2-5x the number of shares and links that you get from your content.

For example, my friend Larry Kim and I co-created this infographic:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And we both promoted it to our audiences on the same day:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Which got our infographic in front of thousands of people.

In fact, I still get links from this co-branded content… 2+ years later:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Publish Studies and Data

I touched on this in Step #4.

But it’s worth repeating.

In fact, if you look at my site, 3 of my top 5 most linked-to posts are studies or data-driven guides:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Guest Posts, Interviews, Speaking Gigs (and Yes) Roundup Posts

In other words:

Get your name out there… and the links will follow.

In fact, when I first started Backlinko, I guest posted like crazy:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

I went on any podcast that would have me:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

And I spent hours flying to countries like Romania and the Czech Republic to speak at conferences:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Even that wasn’t enough…

I was so determined to promote Backlinko that I added an “Interview Me” page on my site:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

(That “Interview Me” page didn’t work. But at least I tried ? )

Basically: I hustled to get my name out there.

It didn’t happen overnight.

But over time, all this work resulted in a ton of exposure… and links.

A while back Google said that comments can help your search engine rankings:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

To be clear:

I’m not convinced that blog comments are a direct Google ranking factor.

But I am convinced that a community indirectly helps with SEO.

(For example, community members are more likely to share your stuff on social media)

With that, here are 2 quick tips for getting more comments on every post:

Be Picky

This is counterintuitive.

But stay with me…

Imagine you just read an AWESOME post.

And you want to leave a comment with your two cents.

But when you hit the comments section, you see this:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Are you still going to leave that comment? Probably not.

That’s why I’m SUPER picky about the comments I let through.

And this pickiness fosters great discussions, like this:

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

Reply To Comments

I reply to 90% of the comments that come in.

And considering we have 24,189 total comments on the Backlinko blog…

, The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]

…that’s approximately 21,000 replies.

Wow. That’s a lot of replies.

And I have ZERO regrets about replying to so many comments.

Why?

These replies show people that I care.

Which turns random commenters into active members of the Backlinko Community.

Now I’d Like To Hear From You

There you have it:

My 9-step SEO strategy for 2019.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Which strategy from today’s post are you ready to try first?

Are you going to update and relaunch older content?

Or maybe you want to try Broken Link Building.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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