Getting natural backlinks to your website is one of the most difficult parts of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And many consider backlinks to be a strong ranking factor. There is a tool called Help a Reporter Out (HARO) that can help streamline this process. Let’s dig into how to get HARO backlinks to improve SEO.

What is HARO?

Let’s start by discussing what HARO is. HARO is an acronym for Help a Reporter Out. It is a tool that makes it easy for “sources” (such as website owners and bloggers) to connect with reporters. When a journalist is writing a story they can use HARO to find quotes and information to add to their article. If the author uses your content in the article, they generally include a backlink to your website.

The reporters that use HARO to find sources range greatly. Sometimes it specifies what company they are with. Many times it just says anonymous. The anonymous leads are usually the larger publications. HARO is a good way to get backlinks on popular sites that otherwise would be impossible to get.

Register as a Source

To use HARO, you first need to register as a source. By signing up as a source you’ll start to receive emails three times a day with leads. And, you’ll be able to respond to the leads using the email address you registered with. Registration is free and required.

Understand What You Want to Be Known For

Before you can start using HARO, you need to have a clear understanding about what you want to be known for. There will likely be several leads that you can respond to. But, you want to stay focused on the relevant leads that are worth your time. You want to focus on leads that relate to your target audience.

Spend the time to create a persona and understand the exact person you want to reach. That will save you a lot of time when going through HARO leads. When you understand who you’re talking to and what you want to be known for you can easily scan the leads to find any relevant requests. There are several leads so understanding what you’re looking for will save you time both in reviewing the emails and writing responses.

The goal is to end up on websites where your target audience hangs out. The best way to do that is to submit pitches to relevant topics. Focus on quality over quantity.

Review Leads Daily

To be successful with HARO, you need to review the lead emails daily. All leads have a due date. There is a date and time that the information needs to be submitted by. Sometimes the cutoff is in a few hours, sometimes it’s in a month. Either way, your best bet is to pay attention and submit your response as fast as possible.

Use Gmail Filters to Highlight Top Leads

The number of requests in each email can get overwhelming. It’s a lot to hunt through. To streamline the process I like to use a couple of filters in Gmail.

First, I create a filter to apply a label to all of my HARO emails. Then, I have those emails skip the inbox and immediately archive within that label. That way, my inbox doesn’t get cluttered with HARO messages and I can reserve time to go through all of them at once.

haro gmail filter haro gmail filter

I also have a filter to add a star to the HARO emails that include keywords that I’m interested in.

haro gmail filter haro gmail filter

This makes it easy for me to get into a routine to work on HARO responses. I go to my HARO label to see all of my unread leads. Then, I can see the emails that are the most important because they are starred. (Remember the star was applied from my filter when one of my keywords was found within the email.)

I start by reviewing the starred emails and respond to any (not expired) leads that are related to what I want to be known for. Then, I scan through the other emails to make sure there are no other leads I should respond to.

The emails are separated by categories. To save time only read through the categories that are related to your field. So, if you are a travel blogger you can skip the Biotech and Healthcare section and focus on the Travel or maybe even Lifestyle and Fitness section.

Follow Directions and Send Unique Response

When you find a lead you want to respond to, make sure you read the entire prompt. Follow any directions from the author. Spend the time to answer the complete prompt while also remaining concise. And even if the response is similar to another pitch you’ve sent, don’t copy and paste your response. Write a unique response. Don’t try sending canned responses. Make sure your response feels like a genuine high-quality response so it can beat out all the other responses.

In Summary

Getting HARO backlinks requires a routine. This needs to be done on an ongoing basis to continue to grow backlinks. For the most SEO benefit, you want steady backlink growth. Not a bunch at once and then no more. Not every HARO response will result in a backlink. In my experience about 15-20% of pitches get published. So, don’t stress about the outcome. Instead, get into a habit of checking HARO leads and responding to the best matches. Over time this will build natural backlinks on relevant sites.

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More and more often you hear about the importance of page speed. You know it’s important, but you aren’t very technical and it feels like a problem that’s out of your hands. Why is page speed important and how fast is your site now? We’ll discuss that and how to improve page speed yourself.

Why Page Speed is Important

To start, we’ll discuss why page speed is important. The main reason why page speed matters is because it improves the user experience. Consider your own experience browsing the web. What do you do when you click a link on Google and then sit staring at a blank screen? You click the back button. You aren’t the only one. The longer it takes for a site to load, the more people you will lose.

Google ran a study that showed bounces increased by 90% as load times increased from one to five seconds.

The other reason why page speed matters, is because it can impact your search rankings. Now, this goes hand-in-hand with speed impacting the user experience. Search engines are always trying to provide an optimal user experience. Page speed is a measurable metric that impacts user experience. So, it makes perfect sense to include it in search ranking algorithms.

For years, page speed has been a suspected ranking factor. Now, with the Google Page Experience update, page speed will play a definite role. It’s still unclear how large of an impact it will have. There was a podcast episode released by Google that hinted that speed is a tie breaker, not a primary signal.

Either way, page speed is important for the user experience. And that makes it important to search engines. Which should make it important for you.

How to Measure Page Speed

There are a few tools you can use to measure page speed.

They all work alike. You enter in the page you want to test and in seconds you get a report of issues and a grade. It’s important to understand that these are testing the page you entered, not your entire site. So, you might want to test a few pages such as your homepage, a blog article, and a category page.

How to Fix the Errors Found in Page Speed Tools

Once you run PageSpeed Insights or any of the other tools, you’ll have a list of issues that are hurting your page speed. On each of these tools you can click on the item to learn more about it. That helps you understand the issue more and sometimes even offers possible solutions.

How to Optimize Page Speed on WordPress

The list of issues reported by page speed tools is useful, though it can be overwhelming. If you have a WordPress site, you’re in luck. There is a method you can use to improve page speed by leveraging plugins.

WordPress Plugins to Improve Page Speed

There are a handful of great plugins that you can use to improve page speed. You’ll want a plugin to enable caching and a plugin to optimize images. Or, a plugin that accomplishes both.

Here are some good options:

How to Choose the Right Plugin

The trick is to determine which plugins are best for your website. Depending on your site configuration, some may be more effective than others. Here is the method I use to determine which plugins will be the best to improve page speed.

Step 1: Backup Your Website

The first thing you need to do is backup your website. When you are optimizing page speed, you are changing files. You are compressing and minifying files to reduce total size. There is a lot of potential for things to go wrong. Be prepared.

You can backup your WordPress site by using the UpdraftPlus plugin. Hopefully you won’t have to use it. But this way you can test without worrying.

Step 2: Prepare for a Game of Guess and Check

Get ready to play some guess and check. I listed out some plugins above [earlier], but your best option will vary depending on your site and theme.

Here are the goals for the game:

  • You want to use as few plugins as possible. The more plugins, the more potential for conflicts and issues. And more plugins could impact your page speed as well.
  • You don’t want the site to break. You want the site to load faster, but look the same.
  • You want to improve page speed as much as possible. Make sure you run a test before and after your optimizations to confirm the changes made an impact.

Step 3: Activate a Plugin

Now it’s time to choose a plugin to download and activate. To add a new plugin it’s as easy as going to Plugins > Add New and searching for the plugin you’d like to add. Once you find one that’s a good fit, click Install, then Activate. To configure the plugin, you can click Settings under the plugin name listed in the Installed Plugins page.

Step 4: Test the Site

Once installed, test your site. Do this after each plugin installation so if there’s an issue you can catch it right away. This will make it easier to determine what caused the problem. Depending on the issue you can change a setting in the plugin to try and resolve it. If there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix, I would uninstall it and try a different plugin. It’s possible there was a conflict with another plugin you’re using or an issue with your theme. WordPress has a ton of different plugins available. If there is a problem with one, your best bet is to try another one.

Step 5: Check Page Speed Score

After you have a plugin installed, and confirmed the site still looks great, run another page speed test. Make sure you use the same tool you used to test originally so you’re comparing apples to apples. I normally use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool as my go-to testing tool. You want to confirm that the changes you’re making are actually improving your page speed.

Step 6: Repeat Until Reaching Desired Outcome

Keep repeating steps three through six until you’re happy with your page speed. You don’t have to get a perfect score. Just make sure that the site has a good user experience. Does it load quickly for you? Or is it an annoying wait? Fine-tune it until you’re happy with the feel of the site.

Here’s What Worked for Me

I have used plugins to improve page speed on a handful of WordPress sites. Each time a different configuration of plugins seems to be the best bet.

I’ve found Smush and WP Fastest Cache to be the best combination on a few sites. I’ve optimized sites using only WP Optimize. And what worked best for me on this site was W3 Total Cache with EWWW Image Optimizer.

There isn’t one solution that is the best fit for all. It all varies depending on the site and how aggressive you want to be. For example, before I started attempting to improve page speed my scores on the Google PageSpeed Insights tool were in the thirties. Any caching plugin I installed immediately bumped my scores up to the fifties. I wanted to improve the page speed as much as possible though so I kept playing around with different configurations. The configuration I have it set to now got my mobile score above 70 and my desktop score is almost one-hundred. The site is also getting an A on GTMetrix.

pagespeed scores

There is still more room for improvement. Not all pages score this high and there are still optimizations to make to the images. For now, I’m calling this good because it feels like a good user experience. It’s quick to respond and has decent scores. But page speed is something I will continue to address.

Like many SEO tactics, page speed isn’t something you can do once. As technology improves and your site grows you’ll need to revisit page speed and continue to improve.

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So, you have a blog. And you already know people won’t magically appear. Now you need to know how to get traffic for your blog. Here are seven steps you can take to start getting website traffic.

Stay Focused

Make sure that your blog has a clear focus. It’s important that both search engines and readers can identify what the blog is about. Determine what you want your site to be known for and make sure your blog content reflects that.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Make sure you understand the exact person you’re trying to reach. At first, this may not seem like something that could increase traffic. But, if you are writing your articles so they can apply to anyone and everyone, you are talking to no one.

By trying to attract everybody, you aren’t helping a specific person. You will end up attracting more people by writing to one individual. This will allow your content to be detailed and actionable. You will attract more than the one person you are targeting when you write in this manner. If you try to write for everyone you will bore them all.

Stick with Evergreen Content

For steady, long-term traffic growth, try to stick with evergreen content. Evergreen content is always relevant and appears fresh even after long periods.

When you write about timely content you often get an immediate traffic boost. But, then the traffic goes down over time. The opposite happens with evergreen content. Evergreen content acts as a resource and the value doesn’t dwindle over time. That allows for traffic that remains steady and can even increase over time.

Perform Keyword Research

To get traffic to your blog, you want to make sure you are writing content about topics people are looking for. Writing takes time, so make sure you are spending it to write about things your audience cares about.

Leverage keyword research to fine-tune your topics and ideas. Start with your list of ideas, then perform keyword research to grow your list and add data. You can then rank content based on high monthly searches and low competition. For directions on how to do that, view our complete keyword research tutorial.

Write Many Titles

The title is important. Often, the title will be the only thing people read when deciding if they should continue. Take a few extra minutes to come up with three to five title ideas. Once you have options you can narrow it down and choose the best fit.

Understand SEO Basics

To get traffic to your blog you don’t have to be an SEO expert. But, you do need to be aware of the basics. You need to understand how to write for SEO and how to add on-page optimizations.

A few of these basics include:

  • creating content so it’s easy to scan
  • adding the keyword to the first paragraph and subheadings
  • adding a meta description

Post Consistently

And the last tip to grow your traffic, is to post consistently! The exact frequency of your blog updates isn’t as important as the fact that you are consistent. Choose a frequency that you can commit to (I choose weekly) and stick to it.

Once you’ve decided on a frequency, create a plan. Create a content calendar and plan out which article you’ll publish on which day. Try to plan out a quarter at a time. That way, you have lots of ideas in the pipeline. That will make it easier to batch content and you will be less likely to miss any updates.

Traffic growth will likely be slow to start, but don’t give up. As you remain consistent, you will start to see traffic grow. And as it grows, it will pick up momentum.

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So, everyone knows content is king when it comes to SEO, but why? Let’s go over why content matters and why it’s an essential piece of your SEO strategy.

SEO and content marketing are two pieces of the same puzzle. Without content, you have nothing to optimize for search engines. Search engines rank pages, and pages only exist if you have created content.

More Content Means Ranking for More Keywords

The more content you have, the more keywords you could rank for in search engines. Search engines want to provide the most relevant content for search queries. Creating high-quality, focused articles will add valuable content to your website and allow your website to match more specific and relevant keywords.

More Content Can Increase Clicks

Publishing high-quality content often allows you to create a library of resources for your target market. Having content specific to your audience’s needs not only gets your content to rank for relevant search queries but can also increase clicks. When people see an article that covers exactly what they are looking for, not just a generic page, they will click on it. Those clicks can then help increase your ranking.

More Content Gives More Backlink Opportunities

Gaining backlinks is another tactic that can increase search rankings. The more content you have (especially high-quality content), the more likely you are to get natural backlinks. Natural backlinks occur when other websites link to your article on their own. These are the best because they require no outreach on your part. They involve no time or money, and because they are natural links, they often provide more long-term ranking benefits than earned links.

More Content Provides a Better User Experience

Having more content can lead to a better user experience; a user can stumble on your website looking to answer one question and then find answers to questions they never thought to ask.

Now, this can also work the other way around. More content can hurt the user experience if not intelligently linked to related articles. Add internal links to relevant articles when discussing a particular topic, and make sure the main navigation is simple and easy to use.

If you make it simple to jump from article to article, then more content will provide a better user experience.

In Summary

Content and SEO go hand in hand. Creating content but failing to optimize it for search engines is a waste of time. It is unlikely to get discovered. And there is no SEO to perform without content. You need both content and SEO in your digital marketing strategy.

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It can be difficult to understand when, or if, to add a subdomain to your website. No one wants to spend time making a substantial change, such as adding a subdomain, only to find out it’s bad for SEO. But are subdomains actually bad for SEO? Let’s dig into how subdomains impact SEO and when to use them.

What is a Subdomain?

Before we get too far into discussing how subdomains impact SEO, let’s first consider what a subdomain is.

A subdomain is a domain for your website that is part of your primary domain but has a unique identifier before the standard domain’s name. For example, the domain could have a subdomain of

Are Subdomains Bad for SEO?

Generally speaking, subdomains aren’t bad for SEO. They aren’t penalized in any way just for being a subdomain.

But they can be construed as bad because they don’t benefit the main domain or gain any benefit from it. Search engines consider them a completely separate website from the parent domain. Therefore, you need to apply SEO techniques to both the main domain and subdomain if the goal is for both sites to rank well in search engines.

So, to reiterate, there is no penalty. However, subdomains can be considered bad because they do not benefit your primary domain or receive any benefit from it.

When is a Subdomain a Good Choice?

Even though a subdomain is considered a different website and doesn’t directly benefit the primary domain, there are still a few instances where a subdomain is a good choice.

When You Want to Provide a Unique User Experience

A subdomain is a great option when you want to create a unique experience. Suppose you need a layout with different navigation, a different header, or even different screen sizes and widths. In that case, a subdomain will let you create a unique template and experience.

A subdomain can be handy for creating a website that functions like an app. It works well for any type of tool or logged-in experience as well. People sometimes use this tactic to create a mobile website, though responsive design or AMP are now the preferred methods.

If You Have Content that is Truly Off-Topic for Your Main Domain

If you have content that is off-topic for your main domain, it could make sense to put that in a subdomain. That’s because, if the content is off-topic, you’ll need to optimize the pages for keywords that are entirely different from your main domain, anyway. Therefore, even if that content were on the main domain, there wouldn’t be as much benefit, and it could even dilute the SEO efforts on your main site. If you start adding off-topic content to your main website, it will make it more difficult for people and search engines to understand the website’s purpose.

Different Geographic Regions

The last reason a subdomain could be a good choice is if you cater to different geographic regions. For that, you need variations of your website for the different audiences. In that case, it could be a good option to leverage multiple subdomains to provide content tailored to the audience that will view it.

In Summary

The key thing to remember is that a subdomain is essentially a different website. If what you’re building is part of (and should benefit) your main website, then don’t use a subdomain. If the content is associated but requires a standalone site for one of the reasons above, then go ahead and build a subdomain. There is no SEO penalty, but it’s important to understand how to adjust your existing SEO strategy to ensure the content people need to see ranks well.

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You already know you need to do keyword research to ensure you’re writing about topics people are searching for. But how many SEO keywords should you use on each page? Here are five tips to help you determine the right keywords for each page on your site.

Assign Keywords to Pages—Not Sites

When determining how many keywords to use, focus on assigning keywords to a particular page. There is no maximum or minimum number of keywords that will be ideal for the site as a whole. Instead, you want to make sure each page on your site focuses on a unique topic and that you have a clear understanding of any keywords you are targeting on that page.

Focus on High Search Volume and Low Competition

When choosing which keywords to assign to pages and ultimately optimize for, go for keywords with high search volume and low competition.

Now, what does high search volume mean? Well, it should be a metric specific to you, your keywords, and your industry. It could as easily be 15,000 as 50 searches a month. Use the search volumes as a comparative metric, and don’t get too worried about the exact numbers. The tools used to gather those metrics aren’t perfect. So, instead, use the metrics to compare your keywords to each other. If the tool reports any search volume for a word, it could still be worth focusing on for you.

Looking at the keyword difficulty or competition metric can also help you determine which keywords to focus on. Often, terms with the highest search volumes are also the most competitive. Therefore, they are the most difficult to achieve a good rank with. Find a good balance between terms that people search for but for which the competition is not intense.

Choose One Primary Keyword

For each page, you want to target one primary keyword. It’s okay to try and target three or even five keywords on one page, but choose one to be the primary.

Any secondary keywords can help shape your content. You can use them to create sections in your content by inserting the secondary keyword in a subheading and then in the paragraphs directly below it. The rest of the article, however, would be optimized for the primary keyword.

You’ll Rank for More than You Target

Each page will end up ranking for many more keywords than just the one primary keyword you targeted for it. But that helps you keep your page focused on a specific topic.

Typically, the keyword you focus on will be a broader term. It could be something such as Google Analytics events, which is a broad term. Concentrating on that one term will not only help increase the rank for that broad term but also increase the rank on hundreds, if not thousands, of related long-tail terms. These are longer, more specific queries. Some of those long-tail terms could be how to set up Google Analytics event tracking, tracking button clicks with Google Analytics, or how to add event tracking in Google Analytics.

Any single long-tail term has a lower search volume than a broad term, but there are many more long-tail terms than broad terms. So, what happens is that you focus on a broad term, but you end up getting your traffic from the long-tail terms.

So, you don’t need to worry about only choosing one keyword for your page. It simply determines your focus and gives you clear direction. You won’t be missing out by not targeting every variation. Those variations will naturally appear when you write a high-quality article with a specific focus.

Don’t Worry About Tracking the Rank

Don’t worry too much about tracking the rank for each keyword. Just use the keyword as your guide when you’re creating content to make sure you’re focusing on topics people are looking for.

It’s fun to see if the keyword you targeted ends up ranking on the first page, but it isn’t all that helpful to track it. Search rankings can vary greatly depending on location and personalization.

Instead of getting too carried away with trying to track keyword rankings, monitor the traffic your content receives. You can view this in Google Analytics under Behavior. If your content is receiving views, if people are spending time on the page, and if that’s generating conversions, you know the topic resonates well with your audience, and you should create more content like it.

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You’re already aware you should be writing weekly blog articles. But how do you write them so they rank well on search engines? Here are ten tips to guide you on how to write for SEO.

Write for Your Target Audience

When writing for SEO, the most important thing to remember is to write for your target audience. Don’t get so focused on optimizing for search engines that you forget to focus on your readers. Creating a great experience and top-quality content for people who visit your website should always be the priority.

Search engines are always changing to improve the user experience. Making sure your content provides the best user experience possible will give you a better chance at long-term SEO success.

To write for your target audience, you need to have a clear understanding of who your audience is. Take the time to outline a persona. This allows you to create a profile that makes a story for your target customer. Then, when you write your content, you speak directly to the fictional persona you’ve outlined.

Focus on Evergreen Topics

Try to choose content topics that will always be relevant. This won’t always work out, but try to find a balance between evergreen and timely content.

When you’re writing blog articles, it can be easier to write content based on current events. This content is strongly applicable today, but it will be harder to rank down the road because it likely won’t be as important. Unless yours is a news site, try to prioritize evergreen content.

Evergreen content is always relevant and appears fresh even after long periods. That doesn’t mean it never needs to be updated. Instead, it means evergreen content can be reviewed and updated infrequently and still continue to benefit readers for years.

I like to review my content on an annual basis and update the most popular articles. Even if an article is evergreen content, I still like to review it and make sure everything remains accurate today.

And, although I like to focus on evergreen content, that doesn’t mean I ignore current events and new information. Instead, I add that content in a way that allows the article to be evergreen and beneficial for the long term. So, instead of focusing only on what’s changing, I write an article about the broader topic. Then, I include information such as this: “As of this particular date, this change is happening.” So, I include the changes and what’s new, but I write them in a way that ensures the content is relevant and beneficial after the fact as well. When it’s time to review and update the article, I simply edit that piece so that the change no longer reads as if it’s new but, instead, as if it’s just how the system works.

Spend Time Choosing a Title

The title of the article is the most important part. The title will be the sole factor that people use to determine if the article is worth reading.

The title needs to not only be interesting and persuasive but also include the keyword. And, to avoid being truncated in search results, it should also be under 70 characters.

The best tactic for ensuring a title hits all these points is to come up with several titles. Write as many titles for your article as you can think of. I like to write at least three to five. If you need idea prompts, we have a guide on how to write catchy titles. Some people write as many as thirty. Once you have your list, you can decide which title fits best.

And, as a bonus, you can still get some use out of the titles you decide not to use. You can use the title ideas for social media posts when you share the link to the article. This can help you find out if there is a particular format of titles that resonates with your audience. If you start seeing high engagement on social posts with titles you didn’t choose, review the title and consider updating your article.

Do Keyword Research

Make sure to do thorough keyword research. Writing content takes time. Make sure you are using your time wisely by writing about the topics people are searching for. If you aren’t sure how to do keyword research, go through our complete guide, where we walk through an entire keyword research system.

Once you understand the keyword you’re focusing on for the content, see what’s already ranking for the term. Perform a search on Google with your targeted keyword. Look at the top ten results. That is your competition. To rank on page one, you need to write content better than those ten results.

Add On-Page Optimizations

There are a handful of on-page optimizations you’ll want to make on every page. These include adding your keyword in places such as the title tag, H1 tag, first paragraph, and subheadings.

An important part of on-page optimizations is to include the keyword only when it is appropriate and meaningful for the reader. Do not blindly make on-page optimizations. You don’t want to stuff your page with your keyword for SEO purposes only. Always keep the reader in mind and make sure the change makes sense not only for SEO but also for your audience.

Make the Content Easy to Scan

Format your content so it’s easy for readers to scan. Use subheadings and bulleted lists when you can. You want people to be able to scroll down and understand the gist of the article based solely on the subheadings, bold text, and lists.

It’s a common practice that you scroll through and read what you can easily see. Then, if it seems relevant to you and interesting, you scroll back to the top and start reading from the beginning. Make this process easy for people. Do your best to break up the text so it isn’t just one big wall of words.

Add an Image

Make sure to add at least one image to your article. And make sure to add an alt tag to the image. The alt tag is a text description of it.

The alt tag can help in three ways. First, if the image doesn’t load, the text description will appear in its place. Second, if the person viewing the site is visually impaired and using a screen reader to view the site, the alt text will be read to them so they can still get a basic understanding of what you are trying to portray. And, finally, the alt tag can help search engines understand what the image is about. That can help it rank in image search results.

Adding an image allows your article to provide a better user experience, and an image combined with an alt tag even enables you to rank in image searches.

Remember to Add a Meta Description

It isn’t part of your article, and it doesn’t directly impact rankings, but you still want to make sure you remember to add a meta description. The meta description is the text that appears below the title directly in the search results page. It will help convince people to click on your site from the search results, and that will help to increase both your search rankings and traffic.

Add Internal Links

Adding internal links helps search engines and people navigate your site. It’s a win-win. You want to add links both to and from your new article. The best way to do this is by following a link building system after you post each article.

Keep Your Content on Your Primary Domain

And the last tip about writing content for SEO is to keep all your content on the same domain. Have one primary domain that includes your blog articles and any product or company pages.

This means any links and positive traction you receive from your blog content can benefit your site overall. If your blog is on a subdomain ( or a completely different domain, search engines will consider your blog a separate website. And any traffic you experience for your blog content won’t be helping increase your primary website as a whole.

In Summary

To write for SEO means to write for people first. These guidelines will help steer you in the right direction. But remember not to blindly follow SEO best practices at the expense of the user experience.

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When you want to learn something new, books are a great place to start. Does this apply to SEO as well? Can I learn SEO from a book, and, if so, which book? Here’s how to choose the best books for SEO.

Look at the Date of Publication

SEO is always changing. Before you read a book about SEO, make sure you know when it was released. Just because it was published several years ago doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. Just make sure you’re aware of how old it is. With that in mind, you can take the specific tactics with a grain of salt. It’s important to realize that some tips and strategies may be outdated. Nevertheless, you should still be able to get some value from it by understanding the underlying principles and getting better acquainted with the terminology.

Focus on Usability and Marketing Principles for Long-Term Benefits

Instead of concentrating on just learning SEO, read books that provide broader marketing information. Look for books about usability and digital marketing. Instead of learning specific tips and tactics, try to learn strategies and principles of psychology that can be applied to any SEO stratagem. Search engines are always changing in order to provide the optimal user experience. So, you should not only learn SEO strategies that work today, but you should also aim at getting a better understanding of how to create an ideal user experience. With this know-how in your tool box, it will always be easier for you to align your site with the ultimate goal of the search engines.

Learn SEO from Material That Can Be Easily Updated

I’m a huge fan of books and love reading about digital marketing. However, the time it takes to publish a book is too long of a process to be able to ensure that everything you’re reading is accurate and still valid today. I like to use books to get a deeper understanding of marketing strategies. To learn specific tactics and be guided through exactly what to do, I prefer to take an online SEO course. Since it’s easier to update content in an online course than in a book, the online material is up-to-date and relevant to how search algorithms currently work.

My Favorite Books to Learn SEO and Digital Marketing

Instead of SEO-specific books, my list covers broader marketing topics.

#1: This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

This is a great book to get an overview about what matters when it comes to digital marketing. It helps outline some basic principles to fine-tune your audience, optimize your site, and determine strategies to grow. This is a great place to start.

#2: Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

This book provides a framework you can follow to create a story around your brand. This helps solidify what you do and who you serve. If you ever struggle explaining to other people what your company does, this will solve that problem. I enjoy it when a book lets you take action right away like this one certainly does. It’s a simple and fun way to clarify your brand. It makes it easier for you to explain your brand, and it also helps fans explain it to others and increase your word-of-mouth exposure.

#3: Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common-Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

This book will help you optimize your website to improve the user experience. It is older: The screenshots and references in it are a bit outdated. However, the content is still valuable. Every single page in this book is filled with advice that is so obvious that you’ll read it and say, “Yes, of course. That’s how it should be.” Yet, I still found it useful. I’m a big fan of common-sense books because sometimes the simplest, most obvious things can get easily overlooked. This book helps you notice the obvious things you should do to improve website usability so vital information doesn’t get missed. Although this advice may seem obvious, it’s helpful to be able to consciously look and identify where you could make some small improvements that make a big difference.

#4: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

This book lists six principles to persuade people to say, “Yes.” These principles can be helpful in many different marketing aspects, especially with copywriting. They will help you improve the content on your site so you have a better chance of converting people.

#5: Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build a Successful Business by Pat Flynn

This is a great book to learn about building a community. It explains how catering to one person is more important than trying to capture the attention of many. This book is a valuable SEO resource: It points out how to strengthen your brand, better understand your audience and create a fanbase of loyal followers.

In Summary

Reading a book and learning SEO are two great ideas that steer you in the right direction. But before you start reading a book specifically about SEO, just understand things may be different today than they were yesterday, and you always need to pay more attention to the overarching strategy than the specific tactics.

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