10 SEO Tips You’d Be Surprised You Didn’t Know

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Top 10 SEO Tips You'd Be Surprised You Didn't Know | SEJ

Whenever I set out to write something like this, I’m always hesitant because I know that someone (or multiple someones) will read this and know every single thing on the list already. I write it anyway because I think it’s always good to have a refresher. If you pick up even one new idea that you can put into practice, then I think it’s worthwhile.

When it comes to SEO, there’s obviously a lot of fluctuation in the industry, and not just from search engines like Google, but from the way people themselves search for and consume information. The tips below are a blend of analytics, organization, and productivity practices I find useful and seem to be the most frequently forgotten during chats with other marketers.

Top 10 SEO Tips You'd Be Surprised You Didn't Know | SEJ

Create Keyword Groups to Better Leverage Your Data

When I say create keyword groups, I mean create lots of them. Here’s why: Keyword groups can be used to reflect things like products, features, marketing campaigns, audience segments, messaging, geographies, and more. Consider creating multiple types of groups (keywords can belong to more than one group) so you can compare products and features as well as messaging, campaigns, etc. Keyword groups are not only good for comparisons of your internal marketing efforts but also for monitoring and analyzing competitor movements as well.

Create Content Groups

I promise I’ll talk about something other than groups, but if you’re taking the time to create keyword groups, you should also look at grouping your content. One of the reasons I like to group content, in addition to keywords, is that it gives you a different angle on how your audience is finding and interacting with you. A few ways I group content to get the most insights are:

  1. Use the same groups you used to create keyword groups such as: products, features, campaigns, geographies, etc.
  2. Create groups of content by content type such as videos, white papers, case studies, blogs, etc.
  3. Create content groups based on user flow – for example, I might have one that is lead gen content, consideration content, etc.

This method allows me to make comparisons easily and to see how keyword groups and traffic are driven to my content.

Pay Attention to Top Keyword Activity

Top keyword activity is essentially the keyword, and corresponding content, that has changed in rank the most over the past few weeks. I keep an eye on both the top positive keyword activity and declining keyword activity for my content because it tells me not only when we’re hitting the right content and keyword combinations, but it also alerts me to shifts in audience needs and interests.

Keep an Eye on Top Keyword Activity for Your Competitors

Watching top keyword activity for competitors allows you to see not only which of your targeted keywords they are focusing on, but also the corresponding content they’re creating that is being served to your audience. This data may help inform future content creation decisions or improve existing content.

Pay Attention to Competitor Social Signals at The Content Level

Social signals are often a good indicator of what’s organically popular and relevant to your audience at the moment. While most people pay attention to their brand’s social signals, viewing your competitor’s social engagement is also important. By viewing a list of their content sorted by top performing social signals, you can see what your audience finds relevant for the same keywords you’re tracking and see where you might have gaps in your own site content.

Prioritize Your Recommendations

If you’re using an SEO and content platform that delivers recommendations, it’s possible that you’ll get a list of recommendations back that’s daunting and scattered. Prioritizing your recommendations will not only help you stay sane, it will also make sure that you focus on the most important items first. Whether you’re looking for a site-wide rankings boost, doling out simple tasks to other team members, or looking to focus on a specific group of content or keywords – you should be able to use your platform to sort and assign recommendations.

Start Your Day by Staying in the Loop

Depending on your level of experience and interaction with your organization’s SEO and content efforts – you may or may not dive directly into a platform first thing every morning. One thing I do to let me know just how quickly I need to log in, (can it wait til after I check emails or not?) and how deep I need to dive, is set up email alerts with some basic data that will give me an overall health check of my site and its content. A few things included in my daily notification list are: a traffic summary, top keyword activity, recommendations summary, and marketing channel performance overview.

Do Some Competitor Discovery

So you know about the competitors already in your market, and you’re probably doing some checking in on them. But what about the new brands that are starting to take traffic from you, or existing brands that may have shifted focus and are gaining your audience’s attention?

Keeping a regular eye out for who is starting to rank for your targeted keywords and looking at the corresponding content can help you catch and strategize against changes in traffic before you lose position and visits.

Polish up Older Content

One of the most frequently missed opportunities is reviewing your older content to see what could be polished up using new information, updated SEO practices, and current content to give it new life. Most of us have lots of potentially evergreen pages out there that could increase in rank with just a little time – often less time than creating entirely new content. We’re often focused on driving traffic to the latest campaign and features, so it’s easy to overlook or de-prioritize these supporting pages. Don’t overlook these opportunities already on your site – they can be great “bread and butter” places for your audiences to find you and may even open up new audiences with a bit of a refresh.

Annotate as You go

Adding new keywords? Annotate that. Make a bunch of changes to page structures or complete other recommendations? Annotate it. Your team just released a bunch of new content for a campaign? You got it – annotate! Why annotate, other than because I think it’s a fun word? Because it helps you tie actions to outcomes.

When you’re looking at rises and falls in ranks across groups of content and keywords, if you’ve been adding annotations to your analytics along the way as you complete tasks, you’ll have a much easier time figuring out cause and effect. Trust me, for every 20 seconds it takes you to annotate something, you’ll save 20 minutes trying to figure out why that spike in traffic happened.

When it comes to good SEO, it’s as much about managing your own process and priorities as it is about keeping up with Google’s changes, so hopefully some of these tips are fresh ideas to try or just good reminders of best practices.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Erin Robbins O’Brien
All screenshots by Erin Robbins O’Brien. Taken November 2015.

Erin Robbins O'Brien
Erin Robbins O'Brien is the President of GinzaMetrics, an enterprise SEO and content platform. Erin has been working in strategy, business intelligence, and marketing for... Read Full Bio
Erin Robbins O'Brien
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  • Alice

    Thanks for the great tips Erin!
    Which tool would you recommend to use for tracking competitors? Currently I combine Serpstat (for keyword research and competitors domains comparison) with Ahrefs (to see where competitors get backlinks from).

    • I mostly like SEO PowerSuite and SEM Rush.

    • Thanks for checking out the article! Currently we use our own product, GinzaMetrics, for the majority of competitor tracking in terms of search, content, and social. (We also use the competitor discovery aspect to find new competitors and track what content is being created for our keywords.)
      I’ve also found that keeping a matrix of key metrics available in Google Docs for a small team to be an affordable and effective solution – as metrics and competitors change over time. We also look at industry benchmarks to keep an eye on the landscape as a whole.

  • Trust me, We are having this approach from last few years and it really work in favour of us. Keeping an eye on the websites for your ranking keywords, is a crucial task. Then if you see any of your competitor, new business or an existing business coming on top of you, do a deep analysis and try to find out what all they had been doing recently that helped them to climb up. Refreshing the content also is an important aspect and it can be in any form whether creating a blogpost, updating social media channels, special offers or new products.

  • David

    Some useful and interesting points raised here, thanks Erin. I’d also like to know what you use to send email alerts with top keyword activity etc, is this from analytics?

    I also haven’t yet found a tool that I find easy to use in terms of monitoring keywords for my site as well as my competitors – any recommendations appreciated. 😉

    • Hi David,
      Thank you for reading the post. I obviously recommend our own product, GinzaMetrics, for keyword monitoring, activity, and analytics as well as content, competitor, and social tracking. We’re geared toward medium, enterprise, and agency users for the most part and that size solution may not be right for everyone. Outside of that we love the folks over at Moz and I also think Ahrefs has some good stuff going on. I find the Google keyword planner and a lot of the data out of Adwords to be useful if you’re primarily focused in the US – and a bit less reliable, in my opinion, if you’re looking internationally. Let me know if you have any questions or want to chat further – erin@ginzametrics.com

  • Nice list of tips/refresher.

    I’m always curious about the tools that other pros use to complete the recommended tasks.

    Care to share?

    • Hey Travis, Thanks for the comment. I use GinzaMetrics for recommendations, task tracking, and overall SEO project management. We also combine the reporting aspect of that with internal things like Asana, Zendesk, and Google Docs to create an integrated solution depending on what the item is and who on the team would need to complete it. Since every team is set up differently there’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer but I do find it helpful to have all search-related recommendations coming from a single place.

      • IiloniKumaro

        Thank you for the article Erin
        How do you automate the process of keyword grouping?
        Manual is sooo rutting processes….

  • I agree that you need to polish old content to give boost to existing traffic.

  • Great post Erin !

    Really If you want to get succeed you must keep an eye on your competitors and analyze their strategies and work on them
    Even some times it may have chance to get new ideas also

    Thanks 🙂

  • Very well explained Erin. Thank you for step-by-step explanation of each point in little bit detail. However, in the 2nd last point you have talked about older content. What type of older content we can discover with respect to our niche?

  • Hmmm….interesting. First two looks like creating a web silo:) Or at least similar to it. Regards,

  • Thanks for the great tips to do SEO..
    I am going to try them.

    I want to know about any software to get keyword groups or anything like this??

  • First off… awesome article! This is a good list to always have handy just in case you get too intertwined doing other marketing things. Sometimes the basics are the thing that you need to get back to.

    I started helping local clients with polishing up older content. It’s true that there is a lot of useful content there, that with the right bit of polishing, is just another golden nugget for its customers.

    Continue writing please, you’ve a great addition to SEJ.

  • Thanks for the great post, Erin! May I ask what’s your take on backlinks?

  • Tip #9 is my favourite. “Polish up Older Content” is definitely someting that should be consider. Most of the webmasters believe that once a post had been published and indexed by search engines then it could be let alone.

  • Maria Simpson

    Your tips are simply brilliant, Erin!
    I love your idea to polish up older content but I would like to notice other bloggers have to understand how to do this correctly. Use some key points from your old posts but try to avoid self-plagiarism. I’m personally using Unplag plagiarism checker for content creation to make sure that even if I use ideas that already exist, I will create really informative and original articles for my blog.

  • Hansoftech

    Great article! Surely will share this. Really it is Helpfull to keep an eye on competitors work..

  • Thank you for posting such a nice article,can you say which is best the best tool for checking competitor analysis..

  • How can i generate sitemap more than 50,000 pages anybody pls reply me..

    • Hey revereye. The best advice I can give you and I think everyone thinks the same: brake the sitemap in more sitemaps. For example: If you have a shop, you can do one (or more) sitemap/s for products and another one for categories ( I don’t think that categories can’t fit into one sitemap except if there are duplicate pages).

  • Thanks ERIN for such an wonderful article and of the topics were unknown to me.Thanks again for sharing with us.

  • JP

    Hello Erin,
    Thank you for a wonderful article. I have a couple of qestions if I may 1). What’s the best path for a begginer in establishing his/her web site so that it would rank? 2). Do you or your company offer SEO assistance?

    • matthew elliott

      I can tell you what worked for me. Linking social media to my website and it just takes time. A brand new site won’t rank for ages,just be patient

  • Vivek Thakur

    Write something that SEO people really don’t know.

  • Kamal

    Seriously these informations are already known one !

  • AbdullaH Ahmad

    This is really informative information…. ??? This kind of damn information almost all seo’s knows. And this website always tells to the audience just about onpage … tell us about offpage which is most important then onpage. All seo game is depend on the offpage. Have you courage for tell the offpage. Come forward and tell the off page like which kind of strategy we should apply for get the rank at 1st page.

    Stop write like this damn articles for take the fake fame.

  • Thank you Erin for these tips!!

  • jawaid manzoor

    One problem is the assumption that everything is done in English language. Another, it is the responsibility of the seller that the buyer understands the message in as simple language than a terminology dictionary at his side. Real content it seems has been replaced by every new invented jargon with little to sell.

    • Sunil

      You are right. For customers unable to understand English, there must be alternate language stream to help them understand features of your services/products that you put on sale. How would I deal a French client in my English-written product narratives if the client makes a face like “I dont know what you’re up to with that?” Language in which you write for your service or product matters for your business’ success.

  • Sunil

    do whatever you can, at the end of the day, it’s customer satisfaction that’s deal-maker or that concludes status (good or bad) of your business online.

  • Sunil

    Except some changes in lexical aspects, this article unfolds nothing new. For example, it says Annotate for Metadata, something that i believe SEO guys already know about.