If you missed them, check out the other episodes in the series so far:
The One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 1: SEO StrategyThe One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 2: Keyword ResearchThe One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 3: Searcher Satisfaction
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Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of our special One-Hour Guide to SEO. We are now on Part IV – Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization. So hopefully, you've watched Part III, where we talked about searcher satisfaction, how to make sure searchers are happy with the page content that you create and the user experience that you build for them, as well as Part II, where we talked about keyword research and how to make sure that you are targeting the right words and phrases that searchers are actually looking for, that you think you can actually rank for, and that actually get real organic click-through rate, because Google's zero-click searches are rising.
Now we're into on-page SEO. So this is essentially taking the words and phrases that we know we want to rank for with the content that we know will help searchers accomplish their task. Now how do we make sure that the page is optimal for ranking in Google?
On-page SEO has evolved
Well, this is very different from the way it was years ago. A long time ago, and unfortunately many people still believe this to be true about SEO, it was: How do I stuff my keywords into all the right tags and places on the page? How do I take advantage of things like the meta keywords tag, which hasn't been used in a decade, maybe two? How do I take advantage of putting all the words and phrases stuffed into my title, my URL, my description, my headline, my H2 through H7 tags, all these kinds of things?
Most of that does not matter, but some of it still does. Some of it is still important, and we need to run through what those are so that you give yourself the best possible chance for ranking.
The on-page SEO checklist
So what I've done here is created a sort...
But before you do anything else, you need to define what goals you want to accomplish with your content.
I’ve written previously about the importance of having an audience-focused content strategy before — and it's still relevant. Every single piece of content you create needs to be mapped to a goal, otherwise, it’ll leave your audience wondering why they should care and what to do next, assuming it even reaches your target audience at all.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you have your goals and your brand’s unique angle nailed down, you’ll also need to prioritize your means of content distribution. This is especially important if you’re just starting out — you should zero in on a few key distribution channels and master those before you expand into others, or you risk spreading yourself too thin and sabotage your chances of success in any of them.
This post will help you zero in on what distribution channels make the most sense for your goals, and how to create content that will perform well in them.
Content goal: Brand awareness
If you’re a new brand or a lesser-known brand in your vertical, it’s crucial to expose your audience to your brand and demonstrate how it can solve their problems. There are many distribution options for brand awareness, and they all involve using external platforms in some way to help you connect to a larger audience of people.
If your brand publishes a large volume of daily content that covers broader, news-worthy topics, content syndication can be an effective way to get your brand in front of a new audience.
I work for a new affiliate marketing venture called The Ascent by The Motley Fool, and our coverage of broad, personal finance topics makes us a natural fit for content syndication. From Flipboard to Google News, major news outlets are always looking for money and finance-related content. Even though the SEO value is limited for content syndication, as links are typically no-followed, this is still an effective way for us to fulfill our brand awareness...
Not sure what a community speaker is?
At MozCon, we have a speaker selection committee that identifies practitioners at the top of their professional field, with a mean speaking game. But these sessions are by invite only, and we know the community is bursting at the seams with groundbreaking research, hot tips, and SEO tests that drive results.
Cue our community speaker program! We reserve six 15-minute community speaking slots throughout our three-day event. Now’s the time of the season when we encourage anyone in the SEO community to submit their best and most exciting presentation ideas for MozCon. Not only are these sessions incredibly well-received by our attendees, but they’re also a fantastic way to get your foot in the door when it comes to the SEO speaking circuit.
Interested in pitching your own idea? Read on for everything you need to know:
To submit a pitch:
Fill out our community speaker submission form to enter.Only one submission per person — make sure to choose the one you’re most passionate about!Your pitch must be related to online marketing and for a topic that can be covered in 15 minutes.Submissions close on Monday, April 15th at 5pm PDT — no exceptions!All decisions are final.All speakers must adhere to the MozCon Code of Conduct.If chosen, you’ll be required to present your winning pitch July 15–17th at MozCon in Seattle, WA.
I'm ready to submit my idea!
If you submit a pitch, you’ll hear back from us regardless of your acceptance status, so please be patient until you hear from us — we’ll work hard to make our decisions as quickly as we can!
As a community speaker you will receive:
15 minutes on the MozCon stage for a keynote-style presentationA free ticket to MozCon (we can issue a refund or transfer if you’e already purchased yours)Four nights of lodging covered by Moz at our partner hotelReimbursement for your travel — up to $500 for domestic and $750 for international travelAn invitation...
Tackling a few technical issues can provide some easily obtainable goals for making your SEO campaigns pay off.
We understand it can be tough to run your business and keep up with your SEO at the same time. As a small business owner, you might be doing everything yourself. So when you look at all the SEO work that needs to be done, it can be difficult not to feel overwhelmed.
But don’t worry! We’ve made some suggested timelines and an SEO checklist so you can make sure you’re spending time in the right areas. Spilt your work into bite-sized pieces and then schedule some time each week to work on it. Remember, SEO is an ongoing process, so don’t worry if you can’t get to everything in the first couple of weeks.
Suggested SEO Schedules
Hours Per Week
One Hour: Optimize One Page
On page content
30 Minutes: Social Media
Create & schedule 3 posts across channels
Interact with your fans
30 Minutes: Reach Out
Interact with people in your industry
Check out sites you might want a link from
Hours Per Week
Two Hours: Optimize two pages
On page content
One Hour: Social Media
Create & schedule 5 posts across channels
Interact with your fans
Start conversations on different platforms
Follow people who follow your competitors
Thirty Minutes: Reach Out
Interact with people in your industry
Check out sites you might want a link from
Establish yourself as the expert
Thirty Minutes: Read Up
Keep up to date with SEO developments
Things are always changing
One Hour: Additional Content Creation
Social media contests
Use this checklist to track completed items and find out what needs more attention.
On Page SEO
Sign up for & install Google Analytics
Sign up for &...
Step 1: Use the URL inspection tool to see if Google can render your content
The URL inspection tool (formerly Google Fetch and Render) is a great free tool that allows you to check if Google can properly render your pages.
The URL inspection tool requires you to have your website connected to Google Search Console. If you don’t have an account yet, check Google’s Help pages.
Open Google Search Console, then click on the URL inspection button.
In the URL form field, type the full URL of a page you want to audit.
Then click on TEST LIVE URL.
Once the test is done, click on VIEW TESTED PAGE.
And finally, click on the Screenshot tab to view the rendered page.
Scroll down the screenshot to make sure your web page is rendered properly. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is the main content visible?Can Google see the user-generated comments?Can Google access areas like similar articles and products?...
The new Beginner's Guide to SEO is here!
What makes this new version so darn special and sparkly, anyway?
I'm glad you asked! Our design team would breathe a sigh of relief and tell you it's because this baby is on-brand and ready to rock your eyeballs to next Tuesday with its use of fancy, scalable SVGs and images complete with alt text descriptions. Our team of SEO experts would blot the sweat from their collective brow and tell you it's because we've retooled and completely updated all our recommendations to ensure we're giving fledgling learners the most accurate push out of the digital marketing nest that we can. Our developers would tell you it's because it lives on a brand-spankin'-new CMS and they no longer have to glare silently at my thirteenth Slack message of the day asking them to fix the misplaced period on the fourth paragraph from the top in Chapter 7.
All joking aside, every bit of the above is true, and each perspective pulls together a holistic answer: this version of the Beginner's Guide represents a new era for the number-one resource for learning SEO, one where we can update it at the drop of a Google algorithm-shaped hat, where it's easier than ever to access and learn for a greater variety of people, where you can rely on the fact that the information is solid, up-to-date, and molded to best fit the learning journey unique to SEO.
I notice the structure is a little different, what gives?
We can't escape your eagle eyes! We structured the new guide quite differently from the original. Everything is explained in our introduction, but here's the gist: taking inspiration from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we built each chapter based on the core foundation of how one ought to go about doing SEO, covering the most integral needs first before leveling up to the next.
We affectionately call this "Mozlow's Hierarchy of Needs." Please forgive us.
A small but mighty team
While it may have taken us a full year and a half to get to this point, there was...
Most marketers understand that links to websites count as “votes” on the web. Google — and other search engines — use these votes to rank web pages in search results. The more votes a page accumulates, the better that page’s chances of ranking in search results.
This is the popularity part of Google’s algorithm, described in the original PageRank patent. But Google doesn’t stop at using links for popularity. They’ve invented a number of clever ways to use links to determine relevance and authority — i.e. what is this page about and is it a trusted answer for the user’s search query?
To rank in Google, it’s not simply the number of votes you receive from popular pages, but the relevance and authority of those links as well. The principals Google may use grow complex quickly, but we’ve included a number of simple ways to leverage these strategies for more relevant rankings at the bottom of the post.
1. Anchor text
In the beginning, there was the original PageRank patent, which changed the way search engines worked. It talked about anchor text a lot:
“Thus, even though the text of the document itself may not match the search terms, if the document is cited by documents whose titles or backlink anchor text match the search terms, the document will be considered a match.”
In a nutshell, if a page links to you using the anchor text "hipster pizza," there's a good chance your page is about pizza — and maybe hipsters.
If many pages link to you using variations of “pizza”— i.e. pizza restaurant, pizza delivery, Seattle pizza — then Google can see this as a strong ranking signal.(In fact, so powerful is this effect, that if you search Google for “hipster pizza” here in Seattle, you’ll see our target for the link above ranking on the first page.)
How to leverage Anchor Text for SEO:
Volumes could be written on this topic. Google’s own SEO Starter Guide recommends a number of anchor text best practices, among them:
Use (and seek) descriptive anchor text that describes what your page is aboutAvoid generic anchor text, off-topic anchor textKeep anchor text concise - no more than a few words
While some Google patents discuss ignoring links with irrelevant anchor text, other Google patents propose looking at the text surrounding the anchor text for additional context, so keep that in mind.
A word of...
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Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to our special edition One-Hour Guide to SEO Part III on searcher satisfaction. So historically, if we were doing a guide to SEO in the long-ago past, we probably wouldn't even be talking about searcher satisfaction.
What do searchers want from Google's results?
But Google has made such a significant number of advances in the last 5 to 10 years that searcher satisfaction is now a huge part of how you can be successful in SEO. I'll explain what I mean here. Let's say our friend Arlen here is thinking about going on vacation to Italy.
So she goes to Google. She types in "best places to visit in Italy," and she gets a list of results. Now Google sorts those results in a number of ways. They sort them by the most authoritative, the most comprehensive. They use links and link data in a lot of different ways to try and get at that. They use content data, what's on the page, and keyword data.
They use historical performance data about which sites have done well for searchers in the past. All of these things sort of feed into searcher satisfaction. So when Arlen performs this query, she has a bunch of questions in her head, things like I want a list of popular Italian vacation destinations, and I want some comparison of those locations.
Maybe I want the ability to sort and filter based on my personal preferences. I want to know the best times of year to go. I want to know the weather forecast and what to see and do and hotel and lodging info and transportation and accessibility information and cultural tips and probably dozens more questions that I can't even list out here. But when you, as a content creator and as a search engine optimization professional, are creating and crafting content and trying to optimize that content so that it performs well in Google's results, you need to be...
I was a new team lead. I knew the ins and outs of being a good SEO and a good content creator, but within my first month as a manager I faced a challenge I had never had to tackle before...
Someone left and I had to find a backfill.
I started desperately Googling things like “interview questions” and “what to look for in a new employee” but quickly realized that was too generic for what I needed. There was really no guidance available on what makes a good SEO manager. I had to wing it.
What I wish I would have thought of back then was creating an SEO assessment. My organization had test projects for content developers based on writing prompts, but there was really nothing comparable to gauge a prospective SEO’s skillset.
An assessment like this might be good for a second stage interview after your candidate has passed a basic round one interview. If you already know you like this person, the next step is to make sure they can walk the talk.
What to cover in an SEO skills test
There are so many things you could cover in an SEO quiz for your prospective new hire.
Generally though, there are three main pillars that I think represent SEO well on the whole: technical (the foundation), content (the house), and links (authority — yeah, yeah… I couldn’t keep up with the house analogy).
A good test of your prospective SEO manager’s skills should hit somewhere in the middle.
Just keep in mind that, while I think this is a good representation of SEO on the whole, it’s not comprehensive. For example, local SEO isn’t addressed here, so if you run a local SEO agency then you could choose to focus on GMB optimization, NAP, etc. Cater your assessment to your unique needs.
How to structure your SEO skills test
There are three main types of SEO assessments that I’ve seen:
The multiple choice test: These are the types of tests that ask things like “what’s a robots.txt file”? These tests gauge someone’s head knowledge (or their Googling prowess), but don’t gauge their practical, rubber-meets-the-road skills. The checklist: These types of tests give someone a list of tasks to see how well they’re able to perform them. For example, “change this title tag.” These tests stop short of gauging someone’s problem-solving abilities. The ambiguous audit...