We often get questions from our members and other bloggers about how to rank posts better. It's a bewildering landscape for some but success is more straight forward than many bloggers think. However, like anything related to marketing, the best way to learn is by talking with experts so that's what we're doing today!
After more than a decade as a link builder, SEO consultant Paul Teitelman has seen link building truly evolve over the years. He has seen it grow from an arms race (who can buy and stockpile the most links), to the modern blend of old-school PR tactics and organic SEO strategies that it is today.
To help clear up some of the myths and misconceptions out there, today he will answer some of the blogging world’s burning questions about link building.
Q: The term "SEO" gets tossed around a lot, but I don't think most bloggers truly understand what it means beyond simply building links. How would you describe it to a new blogger who is looking to get traffic from search?
A: It does seem that SEO is a catch-all term used to describe nearly all digital marketing activities these days. We’ve even heard pay-per-click lumped in with SEO, and SEO and PPC are two totally different things.
Today, a successful SEO services company needs to offer a mix of on-page and off-site optimization.
This should include:
- On-page: Keyword research, on-page optimization, blogging, internal linking
- Off-site: Link building, guest blogging, reputation management, and PR
All of these elements need to be combined to create a truly effective SEO strategy. If you ignore one at the expense of another, you’re going to struggle to climb the rankings.
For example, optimizing your blog is great, but you really need quality links pointing at it to boost your domain. At the same time, earning external links is important, but you also need to optimize your internal links and make your site easily crawlable to ensure you’re not wasting the link juice.
Q: For a blogger that is just starting out, what are some of the most important things that they can do to get their content discovered by Google so it can rank in search?
A: Write to please human readers and not Google’s search bots. Google has said this a hundred different ways over the last decade, most recently after the BERT update.
Should you use keywords in your titles and copy? Yes. But you need to be incredibly mindful of how you use them. Don’t ruin a sentence and alienate human readers for the sake of wedging a keyword in there. Find more creative ways to work your keywords into your copy in subtle and unobtrusive ways. That’s the art and the science of this business.
Q: What are some tactics that a more advanced blogger can do that will help elevate years or decades’ worth of older content so that they can get more search traffic?
A: This is an important question. There are countless ways to elevate existing content.
You can do little (yet impactful) things like updating the statistics or quotes in the piece, and then adding the word “Updated” to the title to show readers that this blog has fresh data. You can also re-think the blog’s images or title to make the piece more enticing. Try different copy in your social posts to really target your readers’ pain points.
It’s definitely worth your while to do some new keyword research to see if the original keywords you targeted became too competitive. Or you can also see if there is an opportunity to do a better job of optimizing the original ones.
Q: There are a lot of myths and mystical voodoo that various SEO folks like to believe are true. What are some of the most frustrating ones that you hear regularly when working with brands?
A: Without question, the biggest myth is that guest blogging is dead. Google’s Matt Cutts declared a time-of-death on guest blogging in 2014 and we’ve been hearing it ever since. It’s important to know that he was actually declaring the guest blogging tactics of 2014 dead, and good riddance.
Back then, you could get away with simply bulk-posting irrelevant content on questionable websites. That doesn’t fly these days. Google wants to see high-quality content posted on relevant and trustworthy websites.
Q: Most bloggers have had someone from an SEO agency approach them and ask to add a link to their content or maybe even a guest post. For new bloggers who haven't experienced this before, what should they be looking out for and how can they turn this into a great experience for both parties?
A: You will definitely want to look at all of these offers and do your research on a site-per-site basis.
You can tell a lot from their actual pitch email:
- Is it clearly a copy-and-paste query letter that was probably sent to a few dozen bloggers?
- Is it full of spelling and grammar errors?
- Did they take the time to do any research on you and the things you publish?
- If it’s a guest post, does their story/ idea belong next to your other blogs?
Ensure that there is a logical fit. Is their content a good fit for your site and vice versa?
Q: What does the future of SEO look like and how can bloggers prepare for it today so that they are ready for whatever changes Google might bring to the table in the upcoming months and years?
A: Google’s recent updates have focused on the user experience and page speeds. So, aside from writing for human users, the best thing a blogger can do is make sure that their hard work isn’t being hurt by a slow website or a clunky user experience.
If your blog takes 5 seconds to load, the odds are good that nobody is going to stick around. As a result, Google could see it as low-quality content, no matter how good the writing is!
Bio: Paul Teitelman is a 15-year veteran of the industry and a thought-leader that is frequently sought by major media outlets to comment on current SEO trends.
He began his career working for the biggest SEO agency in Canada, before starting his own consulting firm over 10 years ago to solve the problems traditionally associated with a Big Agency.
Paul Teitelman SEO Consulting has evolved to a 20+ person team full of Canada’s best SEO thinkers, strategists, and content writers. He has built his team around the skills that his clients need, while making communication and transparency his top priorities.