You read a blog post on a new SEO strategy.
You have this "ah-ha" moment.
You’re super pumped so you stay up all night executing.
And the result?
So are these techniques, tactics,
and case studies all lies?
But there isn’t a single silver bullet for
higher Google rankings.
You need a process - a strategic one, consisting
of multiple tactics and techniques that build
on to each other.
Because without a process it can be the difference
between a number one ranking and a page nothing
So in this SEO tutorial, I’m going to walk
you through 10 detailed steps that will help
you get more #1 Google rankings.
What’s up SEOs?
Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research
your competitors and dominate your niche.
And the first thing I need to tell you is
that this video is not going to be full of
a bunch of random tips.
I have a lot of very detailed steps for you,
so let’s get started by drawing out a scenario
for this SEO tutorial:
Let’s say that I have an online store that
sells pet food and accessories.
A good number of people know about my store,
but it’s because I post on Reddit under
my fake account and then upvote my
own answer with 247 other accounts.
But people who have purchased from my store
are always repeat customers.
Now, the problem is that none of my customers
are coming from organic search.
For this scenario, my main goal is to rank
my product and category pages higher.
And the main way I’m going to achieve this
is by using a blog to fuel my rankings and revenue.
With that in mind, let’s jump into our 10
point SEO checklist.
Start with topic research and a quick competitor analysis
Step one is to do topic research & a quick
An easy way to find topics is to use a keyword
research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
I’ll type in a general keyword related to
my niche, so that might be “pet” and then
I’ll run the search.
Next, I’ll click over to the “phrase match report.”
And you can see that there are about 1.7 million
keyword ideas, which is way too many to manually
Since we’ll be creating helpful content
for our blog, we want to find keywords that
either have informational intent, like “how
to,” search queries and other keywords that
will likely show content based results in
So I’ll click on the ‘include’ box and
type in ‘how to’, ‘tutorial’, ‘best’,
and ‘ideas’ separated by commas.
Then I’ll click here and select 'any' from
the dropdown menu to show the keywords that
contain any of these keywords.
And right away, you can see topic ideas that
might be suitable for our blog.
Before we further narrow the results set down,
you need to answer 3 questions:
The first question is: does the topic have
business value; meaning will people who are
looking for information on this topic be interested
in purchasing my products or services?
Looking at the keyword results, “best vacuum
for pet hair” might be a good one since
we sell cleaning supplies and vacuums.
Right below, you’ll see “best pet insurance,”
which seems tempting with 14,000 monthly searches,
but we don’t sell insurance and there really
isn’t a way to make this work for our business,
so I’ll pass on the topic.
You could scan through this entire list and
probably find thousands of topic ideas, but
85,000 results is still way too
much to manually go through.
A simple way to narrow down this list is to
use the keyword difficulty filter here.
The keyword difficulty metric estimates how
hard it will be to rank in the top 10 of Google’s
In general, the lower the score, the easier
it will be to rank.
So I’ll set the KD to something like 20,
bringing our list down to around 3,800 results.
And you could probably extract at least a
hundred relevant topic ideas from this list
On to our next question: what are my chances
of ranking for this keyword?
Since I want to write about the best vacuum
cleaners for pet hair, I’ll click through
to this keyword, which will give us deeper
insights on the keyword at hand.
After it loads, I’ll do a one second check
and look at the clicks data compared to the
The clicks data reflects the total number
of clicks that happen on the search results
when people search for this keyword.
Now, if the number is abnormally lower than
the search volume, then it might be a good
indication not to target the keyword since
people aren’t really clicking through to
pages from the search results.
But this particular phrase has a lot more
clicks than searches each month, which means
that ranking somewhere in the top 10 can still
produce some nice traffic for us.
Next, I’ll scroll down to see the top 10
What you want to do here is look at the number
of referring domains to get an understanding
of how many backlinks you’ll need from different
websites to compete against the top ranking
And it doesn’t appear to be too intimidating
since a lot of the pages don’t have many
or any backlinks.
This brings us to our final question:
How does Google view the search intent for
this topic and can we serve their users?
Just by looking at the titles of the top 10
ranking pages, you can tell that they’re
all blog posts, most of which are list posts.
And since Google is ranking all of these list
posts, then it would probably be a good idea
to stick with the format so we can be sure
to serve the searcher’s intent.
Here another example of completely different
type of search results.
If we look at the top 10 rankings for this
keyword phrase, you’ll see that the top
ranking pages are dominated by eCommerce product
pages from sites like Amazon, PetCo, Walmart,
Search intent should be at the forefront of
your topic and keyword choices.
So don’t try to squeeze in keywords where
they don’t belong.
Now, if we were to create a page around this
keyword, it would be best to create it as
a product page.
Do deeper keyword research
Alright, onto step 2: we’re going to do
some deeper keyword research on this topic
and turn that into a solid outline for our post.
So we have our main topic or primary keyword
phrase, which is “best vacuum for pet hair.”
And as you can see, the monthly search volume
for the keyword phrase is 16,000 searches.
But take a look at the traffic and the keywords
column in the SERP overview table.
For these two pages, they all rank for thousands
of keywords and get a ton of search traffic.
So from here, I’ll click on the number in
the organic keywords column to see all of the
keywords that this page ranks for.
Next, I’ll use the positions filter to only
show keywords that rank in the top 8 or so
And the reason why I’m doing this is because
it’ll weed out a lot of irrelevant keywords
that we won’t want to target.
And you can see that we’re down to around
600 keywords now.
Now with this list, I can manually filter
through them and look for valuable subtopics
So you can see that we could also mention
something about cat hair, or dog hair, or
upright vacuums, and more.
Another cool thing you can do is click on
the content gap link in the left sidebar.
And with this tool, we’re going to find
all of the keywords that a few of the top
ranking pages rank for, which will give us
a nice list of very relevant keywords.
So I’ll go back to the top 10 Google SERPs
and copy and paste a couple of the URLs here
that rank for a good number of keywords and
also get decent traffic.
And I’ll cut this bottom part and paste it right here.
Finally, I’ll change this option to show
keywords that all of these pages rank for
and I’ll run the search.
And if you scroll down, you can see that there
are almost 500 keywords where all of these
pages rank and at least one of the sites ranks
in the top 10, which tells us that they're
highly relevant to our topic.
So I might talk about canister vacuums as
one section and bagless vacuums in another.
Keyword research is in the books!
Create content that’s better than your competition
It’s time to move onto step 3, which is
to create content that’s better than your
But first, what makes good content?
#1. It must serve the searcher’s intent.
Just ask yourself, why is someone searching
for this term in Google and what do I need
to do to solve that problem?
So you need to get into that mentality to
be the absolute best helper that you can be.
Now, when it comes to creating content,
personally, I like to work backwards.
So, since our goal is to solve problems and
serve the searcher’s intent, I start with
So, for your conclusion, just keep it short
and make sure that you’re delivering on
Now that we know what we have to deliver,
I’ll move up to the body and ask myself,
"how do I get someone to that conclusion?"
Now, I’m not going to write out the entire
piece on this, but I want to share a few SEO
copywriting tips that should will help keep
your readers engaged.
So first, you need to create content that
The way that you and I read blog posts and
even social media posts is by scanning.
We literally scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll,
scroll, and if something catches your attention,
then what do you do?
You scroll back up.
You can make your content more scannable by
adding headings, sub headings, breaks within
the text like using block quotes, custom boxes,
images, graphs, and videos.
Next, write in short sentences and short paragraphs.
And this also adds to making your content scannable.
On top of that, it keeps readers engaged and
constantly moving and processing.
So there's some kind of progress that's being
made and progress is good.
On the Ahrefs blog, most of our paragraphs
are between 1-3 lines long with an 18 point font.
3. Write in fifth-grader-like language.
Language that’s easier to understand will
keep your visitors around longer.
Think about it:
If this SEO tutorial was chalk full of technical
marketing jargon or advanced SEO techniques
like link sculpting, canonical issues, or
doorway pages then, you would have probably
jumped out that doorway and onto another page.
There’s a free tool calling Hemingway Editor
that helps improve readability and it also
gives you a readability grade.
Now, depending on who your audience is, I
would aim for a 5th - 9th grader level.
The last part of your content is to create
And your introduction is a super important
part to your content.
It needs to reel people in and hook them hard.
In general, you want to connect with the reader
fast and let them know that you understand
where they are.
So, give them a preview of what you’re about
to show them and then get them amped up and
Here’s a great example from Joshua Hardwick who
wrote about linkable assets on the Ahrefs blog.
Are you struggling to get links?
Then you probably don’t have anything on
your website particularly deserving of links.
The truth is: there are certain 'types' of
content that earn links much more easily than
These are known as 'linkable assets.'
Here’s what the backlink profile of a very
successful linkable asset looks like:
Pretty impressive, right?
But “linkable assets” are not created
solely to attract links.
There are a ton of other benefits such as social
shares, brand awareness, monetization, etc.
In this article, we’ll be looking at what
types of content work well as 'linkable assets,'
how you can create such content yourself,
and how you can earn links with them.
So, try to keep your introductions short,
on point, and always use words like you and
I to help build that conversation with your readers.
Alright, on to step #4: and that’s to optimize
the content you just wrote or on-page SEO.
On/Page optimization tips on newly created content
By now, you should have a pretty good piece
of content to work with.
The first thing you can do is add internal
and external links in your post.
And internal links will be ones that go from
this page to another page on your domain.
They help share the link equity among pages
within your own website.
So there are 3 types of internal links that
we should discuss.
The first would be to add internal links from
the page that you’re working on right now.
And this is simple.
As you’re editing and refining your post,
link out to other relevant articles on your
The second is to add internal links to your
new post from your existing pages.
And you can find relevant pages by doing a
google search for:
site:yourdomain.com and then put in a query
that represents your post.
Since I don’t actually have a website about
pets, let’s say that I own the website Groom
and Style, which is one of the top ranking
pages for our target keyword.
And you can see that there are close to 300
results where the keywords pet and vacuum
both appear on the page.
So I’ll click on this one and since the
main topic seems to be on robot vacuums, I’ll
do a find for the word “pet hair vacuum”
to locate a good part for the internal link.
And it looks like I could add an internal
link from this post and anchor it here on
“best pet hair vacuums.”
The last internal linking strategy is to add
links to your products and services pages.
And if you remember, our goal is to rank our
product and category pages.
The thing with product, category and services
pages is that no one wants to link to them.
But they do want to link to helpful content
like the blog post that you just created.
Here’s an example for the highly competitive
If you look at the the search results, you’ll
see a mix on types of pages.
Some are content based and others
are eCommerce category based.
And if you look at the number of referring
domains for these pages, you can see that
content based pages have significantly more
backlinks than the eCommerce pages.
To top it off, the backlink profiles of eCommerce
category pages here with a lot of referring
domains are mostly irrelevant spam links like
this one that were built on over 21,000 random
By using internal links from your blog, you
can slowly, but surely power your revenue
generating pages by leaking link equity over to them.
So for our example, we could add links to
our product pages on the different brand and
model names as anchors.
Next, add external links if you haven’t already.
We studied 2 million random search queries
and found that pages linking to pages on DR70+
sites generally rank higher.
Now, I wouldn’t force external links, but
don’t be afraid to link out to other websites
where the content on that page
can help out your readers.
Finally, look at Google’s auto suggest keywords
and see if there’s anything that you missed.
Just go to Google and type in your keyword
and you’ll see some suggestions below.
And we can see keywords like “hardwood,”
“on carpet,” and “in car” which would
make great additions to our post.
Next, I’ll run the search for my query and
then scroll to the bottom of the page.
You can dig through these ones and see if
there are any related searches that could
fit in your post.
Now, you might be wondering if any of these
search queries have search volume.
If I go back to the Keywords Explorer overview
page for our primary keyword target, then I can
go to the “search suggestions” report
to uncover a lot more suggestions that Google
Plus you can see all of the vital keyword
metrics to make quick decisions.
And look at this:
the one about hardwood floors has a search
volume of 700 monthly searches, and then we'll
see other cool keywords on stick
vacuums and robot vacuums.
After going through some of these and picking
and choosing the ones that would make a good
fit, you should have covered your topic better
than your competition.
So let’s zoom on over to step #5, and that's
to create a breathtaking title and hit that
Optimize your title for improved CTR and publishing
Headline is everything.
It’s the one thing that stands between your
visitors and your website.
On social, the headline is usually the deciding
factor before someone clicks through.
And in Google Search, it’s the main thing
that stands out.
To find good headline ideas, try something like this:
Search for your target keyword in Google and
look for commonalities within posts like numbers
or adjectives that you think will enhance your headline.
Another cool way is to see what viral sites
like Buzzfeed do.
They spend a lot of time refining and testing
their headlines, so use their ideas as inspiration.
Just Google site:buzzfeed.com and I'll type
in, "pet vacuum."
And here are a few very clickable headlines.
With these things in mind, I might make my title:
"15 Best Vacuums for Pet Hair That Make Cleaning
a Breeze (2018 Buyer’s Guide)."
Onto step #6: and that’s to get your page
speed under one second or fast enough that
Optimize your page speed
it won’t make someone angry.
Getting your page speed under one second is tough.
You would basically have to minimize third
party tracking scripts, have little to no
media, have stellar hosting and be a technical wizard.
Now, you don't need to get your pages to load
in under one second, but you don't want it
to be so slow, that it deters people from
going to your page.
Google officially stated that site speed will
be included in their ranking algorithm, and
more recently, they said that mobile page
speed will be used for mobile search rankings.
What’s even more important is that page
speed impacts revenue.
Hubspot’s infographic on page speed shows
that if your site makes $100,000 per day,
a 1 second improvement in page speed could
add an additional $7,000 per day in your pocket.
And Google’s study shows that as page load
time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability
of bounce increases by 32%.
Without getting too technical, here are a few ways
you can improve and test your page speed.
First, go to Google’s page speed insights
and enter in the URL of your page.
Again, since I haven’t published this post,
I’ll use this post from Consumer Reports.
And if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see
a few recommendations to optimize this page
for speed as well as instructions on how to do it.
or CSS suggestions, then you’ll likely see
a download link at the bottom of the page.
You can click here to download the optimized
files and then upload them to your server.
If you're a Wordpress user, then you can use
caching plugins like W3 Total Cache and there's
also a great plugin called Short Pixel which
compresses your images when you upload them
to your server.
Once you’ve implemented your speed optimizations,
you can use a tool like Gtmetrix or Pingdom
to test your page speed.
Just paste in your address, choose the location
you wish to start your test from, and start
From here, you’ll get a grade, speed, as
well as more optimization tips.
Now that your page is loading lightning fast,
we’re on to step #7 and that's to promote
Promote the heck out of your content
the heck out of your content
It goes without saying that you should promote
it to your blog subscribers, email list, social
media followers, and any niche forums you’re a part of.
The one I want to touch on for the purpose
of SEO is link building through email outreach.
And this is what’s going to give you that
boost you need to rank #1 on Google.
So I’ll quickly break down a common tactic
and give you a solid email outreach example.
First you'll need to find people who have linked
to your competitors.
And this is really easy to do.
I recommend going to the overview page in
Keywords Explorer for your primary keyword
target and scroll down to the top 10 SERPs.
Then from here, you can scan the backlinks
and referring domains column to see which
pages have a good number of backlinks.
Next, click on the backlinks number to open
up their backlink profile.
From here, I would add some filters like the
"group similar links" or "one link per domain"
filter since we don’t want to contact the
same website owner multiple times.
Then I'll set the link type to dofollow.
From here, you can export the results, see
who would make a solid link prospect, and
email each person with a benefit rich pitch.
Rather than being like, “Hi, I noticed you
linked to this person, can you link to mine
Try something helpful and speak in a more
Here’s an example:
I just saw your post on [this] and saw you
mentioned the [vacuum cleaner model].
Did you hear that it got recalled?
They were causing fires in people’s homes.
Here’s a link to an article I published
covering the details and some other vacuums
that were just released.
It might be worth updating that part on the
recall or removing that part completely.
So let me break this down.
First, I addressed them by name.
Then I tell them why I’m contacting them
and the context of the rest of the email.
Then I gave them a fact about something they
mentioned and something that’s actually
Then I gave them a resource on it, so yes,
they are going to have to read part of my
Then, I suggested updating the part, and if
they update it, of course they’ll link to me.
But I’m not being pushy at all by telling
them that they could also remove it, which
they probably won’t want to do because it’ll
require reworking the content or cutting out
a good chunk of text.
Here are a few blunt outreach tips I’ll
leave you with.
1. Keep it short.
2. Talk to them like a human being.
3. Don’t be needy.
4. Have a really good reason to contact them.
And the better your reason, the higher the
probability of getting the link.
We have a pretty solid series on link building
and backlink analysis, so I highly recommend
watching that series a bit later, because
we still two steps left.
After going through the link building grind,
I’m gaining links, social shares, and getting
all sorts of comments.
And I’ve ranked on the front page of Google,
but I can’t seem to crack anything beyond
So what’s next?
Let’s pair steps 8 and 9 and that’s to
analyze your stats in Google Analytics and
Analyze your stats in Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Google Search Console for underperforming content.
After a few months have passed since I started
ranking on the first page for my target keyword,
I would login to Google Analytics and go to
the all pages report and make sure the dates
are set to the past few months to get a decent
sample size of data.
Next, I would find that page.
And since we don’t have data on this post,
let’s assume that it’s this one that we’re analyzing.
Then I would quickly benchmark the time on
page against the website’s average.
Now, the goal here would be to make sure that
the time on page is higher than the website’s
average, which should tell us whether people
are engaged with the content or not.
And it looks like the time on page is pretty
solid for this post.
If you’re seeing lower than average metrics
here, then it may be worth looking at your
post with a fresh set of eyes.
Ask yourself questions like:
are people leaving because I’m not serving
are they leaving because my content is objectively bad?
Go back to your post, assess the situation,
and make some optimizations to reach your
Next, go to the Search Analytics report in
Here, I would make sure all of these checkboxes
are checked so we can see all of the data
in the table.
Then you can set a queries filter by clicking
here and then selecting "filter queries."
Here you can enter in a keyword, so I might
type in vacuum or hair to help filter down
But again, since we don’t have data on this,
I’ll just type in SEO audit, so you can
see some examples.
And you can see here, our SEO audit post has
an average ranking position of 1.7, which
should result in about a 33% CTR, but we’re
well below the mark.
If you find yourself in a similar situation,
try reworking the titles and meta descriptions
or go back and reassess search intent.
Now, if all things check out, yet you still
can’t rank higher, then chances are you’ll
need more links.
And there’s one other thing that you can
do, which brings us to our last and final step.
Relaunch and repromote your content
Step 10 is to relaunch your content.
There are very few topics that are truly evergreen.
You and I live in a fast paced world with
arguably the fastest technological advancements
humankind has ever seen!
Now, how exciting is that?
So rather than letting your content rot for
years and eventually lose your top rankings,
you should update your content regularly.
Here on the Ahrefs blog, we’ve seen significant
boosts in search traffic simply by updating
our old content.
For our vacuum cleaner post, I would definitely
want to update this in 2019, 2020, and so on.
In this particular case, I would likely remove
any products that I reviewed that are no longer
relevant today and add new ones.
After you’re done updating the post, change
the publishing date to the current date and
repromote your new guide.
No one ever said that SEO is easy or that
it won’t take time.
But when you do it with this 10 step process,
you can refine and scale this SEO strategy
to kingdom come.
And we have a lot of other helpful videos
that dig deeper into some of these specific
strategies that we went through like keyword
research and link building, and content gaps,
so I'll leave links to those in the description.
And make sure to subscribe for more actionable
SEO and marketing tutorials.
We have a lot of good stuff coming in the pipeline.
So keep grinding away, get results, and I’ll
see you in the next video.