7 Steps To Semantic Content Excellence

7 Steps to Semantic Content Excellence

Lately, I have seen more and more people write about “Semantic Content Optimization,” the practice of tuning your Web pages to satisfy a larger percentage of visitors.

I’ve written about various aspects of it, too, including my article on the 100-User Model here on Search Engine Land.

In today’s post, I am going to outline a seven-step process for Semantic Content Optimization for one target Web page.

Why Does It Matter?

As I outlined in the 100-User Model post, Google is doing its best to evaluate content quality and user engagement with pages it chooses to rank high in the search results.

Higher user satisfaction with pages that rank high in Google’s search results means that those users will be more satisfied with Google’s search engine. In short:

The quality of your page is a ranking factor.

With that in mind, it makes sense to closely examine the most important pages of your site with a laser focus on their quality. As we have all known historically, this is something that will drive conversion and customer loyalty, but now we know that it will also drive SEO.

For more perspective on this, check out Rand Fishkin’s SlideShare deck that discusses what he calls a 2 Algorithm World. I particularly like his concept of “task completion.”

Task Completion for Hammocks

Consider the notion of 100 people coming to your Web page on a given search query. What percentage of those people will complete the task they had in mind?

The task they are trying to complete may be broader or far more complex than your page is currently designed for.

7 Steps To Semantic Content Optimization Greatness

Now that the stage is set, let’s start walking through the process to enhance the Semantic Content Optimization for one of your target Web pages.

1. Decide on the focus for the Web page. First of all, the process I am outlining here is not trivial. The first pages for which you pursue this effort should be the most important pages of your site. In short, your “big money pages” are the initial targets. It follows, therefore, that the terms you are targeting for those pages are very high-value ones — either high in volume or premium from a pricing perspective.

For example, if you have a page that sells hammocks, you don’t optimize for the phrase “backyard snoozing sling.” That is already obvious to anyone with SEO experience. What’s new is the focus on other areas related to hammocks that the page should address and what it is that differentiates it from other pages on the Web selling the same thing. Understanding how you differentiate is a key part of the process, because clearly expressed differentiation can drive user engagement with a page.

2. Identify the customer needs the page should satisfy. Once you understand your basic level of differentiation, you now need to start figuring out what other things a person looking for hammocks is looking for. Examples might be:

  • Various options for styles and sizes
  • Spare hooks for when one of the hooks used to hang the hammock gets misplaced
  • Advice on where in your backyard to put the hammock
  • Tips on how to store your hammock during the winter
  • A way to order the hammock
  • Shipping information and options
  • Special offers and discounts
  • Links to pages where you can buy other backyard furniture, such as outdoor chairs and tables
  • Info on ice/drink caddies to go with your hammock and a way to buy one or more of them
  • Links to pages on yard care, landscaping, backyard design, etc.

These are just examples, and you probably should develop a deeper list. It’s a great idea to start by brainstorming this internally with your team before going to the next few steps.

3. Talk to customers and validate your need profile. Now that you have generated some ideas, talk to potential customers. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, ask people in your store. If not, reach out to people who have become customers, and ask them if they would be willing to provide some input. You can also ask a random sample of people on your website or simply put a non-intrusive survey on the side rail.

You can also use a service like UserTesting.com to test the pages of your site. Or you can set up and run a survey through Survey Monkey to collect data. These are all great options to get a ton of info about what people would like to see on specific pages on your website.

Web Page With Survey on Right Rail

4. Use TF-IDF analysis to analyze the top 10 pages for the main search term. One very important concept in information retrieval theory is Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF for short). Essentially, what this does is measure two things:

  • What terms and phrases your page emphasizes
  • Which of those terms define your page’s unique aspects

We can use a form of this analysis to look at the pages Google ranks in the top 10 for a search query, to see what terms related to your main focus (in my example, “hammocks”) Google considers most important.

The way this starts is by looking at those top 10 pages and seeing what their pages appear to emphasize. Does every page in the top 10 offer spare hammock hooks? If yes, then you probably should, too. Do seven out of 10 offer drink caddies? Might be a good idea to do that, as well.

These are hints that these are seen as providing users a better chance of completing their entire task.

TF-IDF Analysis Can Be Used to Mine Content Ideas

Your analysis should not stop there. You should look for opportunities for uniqueness, too. Differentiation is highly valuable, particularly when it involves an important related need for that hammock shopper.

Perhaps only one of the top 10 ranking pages offers any related articles designed to answer user questions, or maybe none of them do. That could represent a big opportunity for you.

For further reading on TF-IDF, here are articles I have written about Term Frequency analysis and Inverse Document Frequency analysis.

5. Invest in usability and design. Usability, design, page layout, calls to action and so on are all important parts of the process.

If your page has everything the user is looking for, but they don’t like the page, don’t see what they are looking for even though it’s there, or if they find it hard to use, they could be out of there in a heartbeat. All your hard-won knowledge from your research efforts will be for naught.

Invest in Usability and Design

Similar to what we did in trying to identify user needs, you will want to get user input to your page design. Many of the same solutions that we talked about in step 3 should go into this stage of the process, as well.

6. Implement what you have learned on your page, and measure engagement. Next up, take all of your ideas and integrate them into your page.

Push the page live and see how users respond. What do people end up doing on the page? How long do they stay there? How many convert? How many pages do they consume on your site? What’s the bounce rate? These are all good things to track.

Your Web analytics software can provide you a lot of this data, but consider doing more advanced things such as mouse tracking to see where a user’s mouse typically goes on the pages of your site. You can use this information to make decisions on how to change and better optimize your page.

Mouse Tracking Data Can Be Useful

7. Test page performance using A/B split testing. Last, but not least, run A/B tests of various page options on your site. A/B split testing is its own science, but undoubtedly you had to make many arbitrary choices when putting your page together. Now it’s time to consider alternative layouts, designs, content or cross-linking approaches on the page.

Create multiple different versions of the page, and see which versions provide the best results for user engagement and resulting revenue. Be careful to not tilt the scale too far in the direction of revenue optimization at the expense of overall engagement.

If you want more information on A/B testing, here is a good article on Improving A/B Tests, and here’s one from Barry Schwartz on how to manage the SEO Implications of AB Testing.


What I’ve described above can be a very involved process. But in a highly competitive world, gaining extra advantages with the quality of the key pages of your site helps us with our reputation, our overall visibility, user engagement, and yes, SEO.

This part of your website strategy can no longer be ignored. Doing this well has become essential.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)

Moz Study Dissects Google Search Rankings for Algorithm Insights

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

Webmasters and content providers began optimizing sites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all webmasters needed to do was to submit the address of a page, or URL, to the various engines which would send a “spider” to “crawl” that page, extract links to other pages from it, and return information found on the page to be indexed. The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine’s own server, where a second program, known as an indexer, extracts various information about the page, such as the words it contains and where these are located, as well as any weight for specific words, and all links the page contains, which are then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.

Boston Massachusetts Search-Engine Icon http://www.G3-Development.co (Owner, Adam Paul Green) Recommended as “Best-of-the-State” (February 2015) for Best Google Indexing by Utah Technology Sensei

By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times’ Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals. The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions. Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.

In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users. In 2008, Bruce Clay said that “ranking is dead” because of personalized search. He opined that it would become meaningless to discuss how a website ranked, because its rank would potentially be different for each user and each search.

In December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.

Google Instant, real-time-search, was introduced in late 2010 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Historically site administrators have spent months or even years optimizing a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results.

In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice, however Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique. In April 2012, Google launched the Google Penguin update the goal of which was to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.

About G3 Development

G3 Development is set out to proactively serve the business community by providing solutions in entrepreneurialism, business development, social media and venture capitalism.

To provide leadership in establishing strength with our client’s international businesses, being built on a foundation of innovation, advocacy, technology and business integrity

Lemon Web Designs Announces A New Approach To Calgary SEO Services In Alberta Slouching …

Lemon Web Designs of Canada has just released new SEO services aimed at Calgary customers. As the Alberta economy continues to slouch and grave concerns are in the air, more and more companies are turning to Search Engine Optimization to help improve their revenues and company performance while reducing their costs. LemonWebDesigns.com seeks to close gap between the higher expectation for Search Engine Optimization services in a downturn economy and the type of services offered in Calgary.

Companies that look to internet marketing can find a variety of advantages in this economic downturn. Now, owners can see performance-based SEO services, different from the standard SEO services around town, which are affordable. Companies that are used to budget plan and cost benefit analysis can now see the SEO data and information in the same format thus having a point of reference to make decisions.

Despite the advantages, many company owners as decision makers are still leaving this important step to their office managers or someone in the office that says “I know SEO”…maybe because it was nebulous in the past. The wasted opportunity in not taking control of this key decision is staggering.

In the field of internet marketing, these obstacles seem to be overcome more readily now by talking in the language that owners can understand. More and more owners are responding to improved approach to data and facts around SEO services in relationship to their business.

“Though we still see companies struggling with their marketing efforts in terms of performance when it comes to us talking over an internet marketing project, it’s getting easier and easier,” says Terrence, owner of LemonWebDesigns.com, a company that provides marketing and web design services to other business. “Owners and companies can rely on straightforward data as would be seen in budget planning or project planning, so monthly and yearly revenue can be projected from an SEO campaign. We also provide a guarantee on the work activities, so if it does not deliver the results, the owners get their money back. We strive to make SEO services understandable with a plan and numbers that makes sense to them,” says Terrence.

Although the trend towards SEO can seem a bit confusing for companies unfamiliar with the option, when properly used, it can provide a long-term win for them.


Contact Lemon Web Designs:

Terrence Bristol

587 329 0162


Restoring your online reputation is a task for experts. And it's expensive

VOL. 39 | NO. 33 | Friday, August 14, 2015

By Jeannie Naujeck

Updated 10:04AM

As a property manager, Mark Hill is used to putting out fires. But when a disgruntled tenant took to the Internet to flame him and his business, Hill was the one calling for help.

“He was bound and determined to try to wreck us online,” Hill says of the angry tenant.

“And so he proceeded to post all this stuff, on all of these sites all over the place. And it really was very overwhelming.”

Not only did the tenant post numerous bad reviews of Hill’s company, Tandem Realty, he created a whole website devoted to his issues with Tandem and its staff.

The result was that negative reviews of the company dominated the first page of results whenever anyone searched online for the company.

Like it or not, “Googling” a person or business is now one of the first things potential employers – or dates – do to find out more about them. That’s led to the rise of online reputation management services, which charge people to attempt to push any negative content down the list of Google search results, or at least off the first page.

Controlling what appears in online searches has gone from a niche business to a field with many players – some legitimate and some not.

The biggest are online services such as Reputation.com, which claims 1 million individual and business customers, and BrandYourself.com, which says it serves 500,000 people.

Any service that promises to remove negative content falls into the latter category, because cracking the code of how Google ranks web pages in search results isn’t an easy or quick task, and Google likes to keep moving the target.

For individuals, negative content lurking on the Web includes things like embarrassing photos, legal problems or past criminal charges that could affect whether they are considered trustworthy in real life.


Businesses often have to monitor and defend themselves against negative reviews that can dissuade potential clients from using their service.

That was Hill’s situation, in the extreme.

“People may have a bad press mention, or a bad review, or in some cases someone literally putting up a blog or website directly attacking them,” says JJ Rosen of Atiba, a Nashville-based consulting firm that provides clients like Tandem Realty with technology solutions ranging from software programming and network management to digital marketing and web design.

“With Mark, they literally took enough time to buy the domain and put up a website. And that was ranking highly on his name, so when you Googled it that’s exactly what would come up.”

To help Hill control the damage, Rosen’s team first tried to determine why the site was ranking highly. Then it developed a campaign to create and push to the top favorable, or at least neutral, content for Tandem Realty, thereby diluting the negative search results.

Atiba did this by creating websites, blogs, pages, images, directory entries and maps it hoped would rank higher than the negative tenant-created site (according to Google’s algorithm) and push it off the first page of Google results.

“For the most part, it’s just filling up with good content and knowing how to write the content in a way that Google likes,” Rosen explains.

“We’ll build a bunch of small websites that are indexed on that content and put them in different locations with different hosts that get higher rankings.

“It’s a process. It can take a long time and be expensive.”

JJ Rosen of Atiba, a Nashville-based consulting firm that helps control damage  of negative web attacks.

Online reputation management is a small subset of Atiba’s work performing search engine optimization (SEO) for their clients’ websites. Good SEO practices help individuals and businesses effectively manage how they are perceived online by influencing what information comes up first about them when people search the web.

But it’s a concern for so many people that Rosen has offered short workshops on reputation management to the general public through the University School of Nashville’s evening classes program.

And online search is not limited to Google.

Siri, the virtual assistant on Apple iPhones, is also a search tool. So are review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and TripAdvisor, where people post about their experiences with restaurants, hotels and other businesses, and Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter.

Any site where someone can be named and talked about is potentially a source of negative – or positive – information. Large companies employ teams of SEO experts to monitor and try to control how information appears in search results. The primary goal is to “own” the first page of Google results.

BrandYourself started when one of its founders Googled himself and found a criminal with the same name was dominating his search results. When he looked for help to disassociate himself with the other man’s links, he was quoted tens of thousands of dollars.

“Reputation management was aimed at high-net worth people with big problems who could afford to fix it. We thought, there’s probably a whole market out there of people who have an issue but can’t afford to fix it, and even more people who don’t have some big issue but want to be more visible,” says Patrick Ambron, CEO of BrandYourself.

“People realize we live more and more of our lives online, and the first thing people do is look each other up.”

Related Articles

After three years, BrandYourself has grown to half a million users. It offers free advice and webinars on how to create and boost favorable content online, or users can pay the company to do it for them – build websites, set up social media profiles on a variety of platforms, and keep posting new content so they appear current and relevant to Google’s search algorithm.

“This isn’t rocket science, but the process of pushing down negative or irrelevant results takes a little bit of knowledge and a time commitment,” Ambron says.

“You have to create good content and consistently structure it well. There’s no guarantee that it’s going to help, but it’s the best way to try.”

Google prohibits users from trying to manipulate search results and penalizes them when they do. An online reputation management campaign can be long and costly – with no guarantees. The tactics may not work, or an adversary could keep putting out negative content to stymie any efforts to push it down.

And getting Google to remove content simply because you don’t like it is usually fruitless. Under very few circumstances will Google remove a web page from its search results.

Google will get involved in a case of copyright infringement. It also can intervene with “revenge porn,” in which someone posts compromising photos of another person, usually for retribution involving an ex.

In June, Google said it would remove all such results upon request of the victim.

In the case of Mark Hill and Tandem Realty, Atiba’s campaign eventually pushed the angry tenant’s site off the first page when searchers Googled him – although some of his bad reviews still appear on the high-ranking Yelp site.

And the criticism ultimately backfired. Hill says he’s actually gotten more business from clients who prefer that he take the heat from tenants rather than go through it themselves.

“Our job is to represent our client while being fair to the tenant, not worry about our reviews,” Hill points out. “But whenever it does reach a level like with that one guy, that’s when we really have to do what we need to do to manage that.”

And as for prospective tenants Googling the company before they rent, Hill doesn’t think that has hurt much either. Most people are now savvy enough to realize that things are often posted in anger, and can recognize when multiple bad reviews appear to be the campaign of a single person.

“It’s hard to forever live in a box,” Rosen adds. “If someone is just purposely out to get you, you may get to the point where you think, ‘Well, I’ll just have to do the best I can and not worry about it.’”

Rosen says he makes a point to tell clients that even the most sophisticated and sustained reputation management campaign may not work. Trying to push down a negative post can take a long time, cost a lot of money and still not get results.

If that happens, they may have to learn to live with it until time – or Google – drops it off the first page.

Take a Step Closer to Web Mastery With These 7 Free Resources

Websites can be a tricky business. You have to stay current with the latest design trends, ensure that your site is easily navigable and usable, improve your conversion rates through A/B testing, prioritize your call to actions, stay current with trends in your traffic reports, make sure your site works on mobile devices and sometimes even deal with spammers, hackers and bots that insert malicious code into your site or cause other issues.

The good news is that we’re in the information age, and many people are sharing their best-kept web-design and development-related secrets, often for free. There are plenty of resources that you can access as a website owner that will make your life a lot easier.

Related: 12 Hacks to Keep Visitors on Your Pages Longer

Here are seven free sources that you can store in your toolbox and access whenever you need them.

1. Website monetization through ads

Most online publishers already know about Google AdSense. However, is that really the best option available?

Make sure to pick the best ad networks based on your goals and ensure your average cost per impressions are in line with industry averages. Making money with ads can be tough without a lot of traffic, so you should be aware of your options and optimize accordingly.

After all, if you’re looking to make more money with ads, you want to make the most of every visitor that comes to your site.

2. WordPress themes and tutorials

WordPress is the content-management system behind roughly 20 percent of the entire web, and is the number-one CMS platform among other tools such as Drupal, Blogger and Joomla! by a large margin.

Website owners should definitely know their way around WordPress, and should also make it a priority to keep great tutorials at the ready so they can easily customize and make changes to WordPress themes, which isn’t always as intuitive and straightforward as it sounds.

Thanks to the extensive knowledge, support and documentation that’s out there, making changes to your WordPress site has never been easier, and since most website owners will likely want to develop custom designs — sometimes based on pre-existing themes — it’s a good idea to make note of helpful guides.

3. Search-engine optimization

Search-engine optimization is an increasingly difficult and confusing topic to navigate. Algorithmic updates on Google and other search engines can change the game at a moment’s notice, and website owners have to react and adapt as SEO best practices continue to change.

The good news is that there are excellent guides such as those provided by Moz. For instance, its “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” offers an in-depth look into how search engines work, search-engine friendly design, keyword research, growing popularity and links and more.

If you’re looking to stay up to date with the somewhat turbulent and always-changing world of SEO, then you need a site such as Moz on your side.

4. Conversion-rate optimization

It isn’t always about how much traffic you can generate as it is how you talk to that traffic. Conversation-rate optimization (CRO) is about increasing the effectiveness of your website, and converting more sales by improving your content, design, call to actions and so on.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on the topic, you probably won’t find any quite as thorough and actionable as Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam’s “The Definitive Guide to Conversion Optimization,” which covers everything from mining your data and A/B split testing to interpreting the data that you gather through your experiments.

The bottom line is that you can spend a lot of time and money increasing traffic to your site, or you can work on converting more of the visitors that are already coming to your site. Of course, in an ideal world, you would continue working on both.

Related: 7 WordPress Plugins That Will Quickly Help Your Site Get More Traffic

5. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a popular tool for keeping track of website traffic. It’s free to use, and is one of the most powerful tools of its kind. Although many webmasters already use it, they don’t necessarily know what the data means or what to do with it.

This is why it’s worth keeping a guide such as “A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics 5” by Kissmetrics at the ready. You’ll learn how to use the latest interface, how to easily find the data you’re looking for and what to do with the numbers.

Analytics can provide valuable insights into how you can optimize and attract more visitors to your website, so it’s worth growing your knowledge in this area.

6. Coding and development

It used to be that coding was one of the hardest and most frustrating aspects of web development. Custom scripts had to be written from scratch, and changes to a site’s core HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets) had to be implemented by hand.

Today, even beginners can feel like pros thanks to resources such as GitHub, where you can find ready-made code snippets for a variety of uses and applications. Even if you’re looking for something as specific as custom-code snippets for the Genesis Framework on the WordPress platform, your search will often turn up relevant results.

7. Image editing and design

The web is more visually oriented today than it ever was in the past. As such, there is a greater need to create and use engaging images on your website. This could have a significant impact on your site’s user experience, usability and even bounce rates or conversion rates.

Although it is always a good idea to learn how to use professional-quality image-editing tools such as Photoshop, there are also great resources such as Canva that are free and allow you to create great images.

If you need to make attractive images on the fly, you’ll find Canva to be indispensible.

Final thoughts

Websites require frequent and constant attention. They need to be updated and maintained to be at their peak effectiveness. The good news is that you can take advantage of the many tools out there to streamline, optimize and even automate your work.

Bookmark the guides and resources mentioned here, and keep them in your arsenal for when you need to learn more and implement new strategies.

Related: Want to Make Money With Online Ads Like Facebook? Learn These 5 Terms First.

Google-Alphabet Corporate Reorganization To Benefit SEO Campaigns

Google’s restructuring is aimed at fostering innovation, which should help SEO marketers, says Internet marketing leader Straight North.

DOWNERS GROVE, IL, USA, August 12, 2015 /EINPresswire.com/ — On Monday, August 10, 2015, Google announced a major corporate reorganization, creating Alphabet as a new parent company and separating established Google search and paid advertising businesses from speculative, “moonshot” initiatives.

On Tuesday, the news generated significant increases in Google stock prices (GOOG and GOOGL), but Wall Street wasn’t the only group pleased with Google’s decision. Leading Internet marketing agency Straight North also sees it as a big positive for SEO marketers.

A key driver for Google’s restructuring is the firm’s desire to foster innovation. Faster, higher-quality innovation within the Alphabet portfolio will have direct and indirect positive impact on search engine optimization.

“The new structure should accelerate improvements in user experience across all Alphabet products, including Google search,” says Straight North Vice President of Strategy, Joseph Cahill. “We also expect Google to get better at recognizing great website content, and give it increasingly greater organic search visibility compared to less valuable content. This is all good news for companies investing in SEO. Better user experience means more users and more potential conversions. Greater rewards for quality website content means companies that do SEO right will be better rewarded.”

Straight North manages complex SEO and paid search campaigns for B2B and B2C organizations, with a strategy team and marketing specialists extremely familiar with the nuances of Google’s search engine product development.

About Straight North

Straight North is an Internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC and responsive lead-generation websites. We help small and middle-market firms generate high-volume, high-quality sales leads. Our campaigns feature creative, long-term strategic thinking and energetic execution that incorporates our exclusive system of real-time lead validation and reporting.

Press release courtesy of Online PR Media: http://bit.ly/1Mkxr90

Joseph Cahill

Straight North

(630) 282-6911

email us here

The Link Strategist: The Missing Role For Enterprise Level Link Building


Your content team fires on all cylinders. You have processes in place that enable your content to garner social shares, page views and engagement from your target audiences. Fantastic! The only problem is that links aren’t happening — and the exec team is looking at your SEO team to explain why.

Link acquisition, at an enterprise scale, requires a careful and strategy-driven division of labor. We’ve identified four distinct, task-based roles — the first and most important of which is the link strategist, covered in this article.

An Enterprise Link-Building Team: The Lineup

I’ll be covering all these roles over the course of this series, but here’s a basic description of each.

  1. The Strategist. The Link Strategist is the captain of the ship. He or she drives the campaign, designs the strategy, develops a unique mission, and serves as the liaison between link building efforts, the SEO team, the PR team and the content team.
  2. The Prospector. The Prospector finds website, blog or journalist opportunities based on the Strategist’s campaign parameters. 
  3. The Qualifier. The Qualifier filters through the Prospector’s findings for the opportunities that best fit the campaign’s outreach plan.
  4. The Relationship Builder. The template and outreach folks are our smooth talkers and our relationship builders. They take the Strategist’s content and bring it to the linkers our Prospector dug up.
  5. The Content Designer. Often the Link Strategist’s “other” role, this task requires thinking and negotiation with brand teams, PR teams, writers and the link prospects themselves.

Today’s article will get you acquainted with the “Link Strategist” role.

The Link Strategist: Job Description

An ideal Link Strategist loves research and process. She can explore the Web for hours in a fun, yet structured way, and come back with a defined campaign mission and a distinct process for achievement. Link Strategists like to measure their successes (and failure), and they prefer quantitative metrics because they’re scientists at heart (the mad kind). They’re not afraid to try new tactics, but they’re equally comfortable with scrapping an idea that just doesn’t work.

Each team and each project will be different, but the practices outlined below can help prepare any beginner link strategist for their first link-building campaign.

1. Understand Link Publisher Types And How To Serve Them

When we’re talking about content designed for earning links, there are two distinct publisher types, with very different needs, who will be doing the linking itself:

  1. News, blog and community publishers. They cover developments of potential interest to your target customers. Often, but not always, these are “in-funnel.” That is, they are directly related to your marketing efforts.
  2. Links and resource page publishers. These are people who passionately care about a topic and curate a page (or website) dedicated to sharing helpful information. Often, but not always, these are “out-of-funnel,” meaning that they may not be directly speaking to audiences you’re selling to.

2. Understand “Linker-Valued Audiences”

Here’s the part that perhaps 99% of SEOs and at least 50% of active link builders miss entirely. Most believe that “linkable content” has concrete attributes, such as an ideal word count or format type (e.g., infographic or guest post). To some extent, it does… BUT…

Genuinely linkable content serves an audience that the publisher cares about.

Linkable content serves this audience because it is useful, catering to the distinct needs and afflictions of the audience. The linker herself is valuable from an SEO perspective because she serves this particular audience so concertedly (and has the link authority to prove it).

So now you know a fact that separates you from 99% of SEOs out there: You’re not designing content for potential linkers. You’re designing content for the audiences those linkers serve.

Please note that these audiences can and will be different from your target customer personas. Here are a few examples of these linker-valued audiences:

  • Senior citizens
  • People in the education space (teachers, homeschoolers)
  • People who need legal aid/legal advice (vulnerable to exploitation)
  • People who care for those who are physically vulnerable (parents, pet owners)
  • People with disabilities
  • People who care for others with medical conditions (parents of kids with addictions, relatives of people with Alzheimer’s)

Now, we’re not suggesting you throw away your marketing personas and shift to writing content only for seniors, nor are we suggesting that you abandon your current content marketing playbook. In fact, there is definitely room for in-funnel authoritative content in the content-design stage, which I’ll cover in a later article.

We are, however, suggesting that to earn links consistently, you should consider how your brand expertise could inform and empower the various audiences that the internet’s vast expanse of linkers care about deeply.

3. Shifting Your Mindset From Sales Content To Linker-Valued Content

One of the most common roadblocks we see is in how SEOs typically think about keyword research for content creation.

SEOs often start with keywords that are centered around sales (“running shoes,” “sports cars,” “hotels in London”), and these keywords lead to sales-centric content ideas. A post on “The Best Hotels in London” may be a perfect fit for your blog, but you’ll have a hard time finding enough linkers who care about it to justify promotion.

However, a “Guide to The Best Wheelchair Accessible Accommodations in London” or a “Teacher’s Guide to High School Class Trips to London” would be a great resource for linkers who care about people with disabilities or teachers, two linker-valued audiences. These topics solve problems for specific linker-valued audiences with distinct sets of needs.

The job of the link strategist is to help the content team direct at least a portion of their content towards a linker-valued audience. They’re shifting the paradigm from “sales-oriented” content to “linker-valued” content.

Identifying Relevant Linker-Valued Topics

The first step for a link strategist in a new campaign is to find out where the company’s vertical intersects with topics relevant to these linker-valued audiences. This is where she gets to put on the research hat and get lost on the Web for a few hours. The best way to take SEO keywords out of the “sales” space is to search within .gov and .edu pages and see what topics come up.

Let’s use the “running shoes” example. A traditional Google search will bring up SERP after SERP of sales pages. But try [“running shoes” inurl:.gov] or [“running shoes” site:.gov]. Now the picture’s a little different:

running shoes inurl gov

running shoes site gov

If you have any Link Strategist blood in you at all, your mind’s racing with unique content ideas like “How to Start a Running Program for [Audience],” “Guide to Barefoot Running for [Audience],” “How to Know If You Need Prescription Running Shoes,” or “Running Shoes Guide for People with Bone Injuries.”

Searching for keywords in the governmental and educational spaces gives the Link Strategist a view of the non-commercial but keyword-relevant conversations that are happening outside of the marketplace.

Locating Linker-Valued Audiences

Topic is important, but linkable content can’t happen without a specific audience to speak to. “A Guide to Barefoot Running for Seniors” is going to be a different piece from “A Guide to Barefoot Running in Seattle Parks.”

Audience comes from the intersection of your chosen content topic with various linker-served audience groups. Again, these are groups seeking information, not products or services. It’s the do-gooder arm of a content marketing strategy.

Typically, a piece of content created for a linker-valued audience will not appeal to your entire customer base. Is there possibly an existing subset of your customers who linkers already serve? Or is there a cause or group of people in need that members of the company already care about, for whatever reason? This could be a good entry point into a linkable audience that it makes sense for you to serve.

How do you know if a group of people qualifies as a “linker-valued” audience? You test it!

Search for existing links and resource pages to test if a topic or audience has linker appeal, using a search formatted as such:

[“topic/audience” inurl:links.htm] or [“topic/audience” inurl:links.html]

Then, review the results count:

  • 50–200 results: It’s productive, but potentially a subtopic. We may need to brainstorm a wider or additional category.
  • 200–1,000 results: It’s a solid topic/audience to pursue.
  • 1,000+ results: It’s an established topic/audience that could merit further refinement since there’s already so much content here.

Take the following examples:

seniors boss topic

Seniors = Boss Topic

running boss topic

Running = Boss Topic

barefoot running useable topic

Barefoot Running = Usable Topic

Keep track of the terms you use to test. These can be used for prospecting further on. Also note that we use inurl:links.html as only a guiding proxy for potential volume of opportunity. When prospecting, which we will cover further on, we use hundreds of prospecting queries, along with authority site co-citation analysis, to thoroughly discover all the pages serving our selected audience.

4. Decide Which Audience You Need To Address With Authority Content

Once a topic and audience are selected, it’s the job of the Link Strategist to work with the content team to create the best possible content for this audience. Ideally, we want to find a question that hasn’t yet been fully answered, a topic area that isn’t already flooded with guides, tips and how-tos. We’re looking for the information gaps that exist in this space.

This can be the most challenging aspect of a Link Strategist’s role — finding a need an audience has and determining how best to serve it. It’s also the most nebulous step to provide advice for, because it’s based on intuiting what content this audience may need based on what currently exists.

Linkers (the page curators and niche publishers you’ll be approaching) serve very specific audiences. They care about providing utility to groups of people with very particular afflictions, pains, passions and concerns.

Unlike a business’ customers-as-audience, this audience’s pain may not be one that a product or service can fix. Don’t think you can drop them into a sales funnel; linker-valued audiences require helpful, experience-based guidance. Further, content should generally be different when targeting resource curators versus industry publishers, even when they’re serving the same linker-valued audience.

Examples of authority content for resource curators include:

  • Tips for ____
  • How to _____
  • Guides to _____
  • Resource collection on _____
  • _____ Finder
  • _____ Calculator
  • Data for _____

Examples of authority content for industry-facing publications include:

  • Survey results
  • Case studies
  • Data analyses
  • Guides to industry developments
  • Expert advice and interviews
  • News

Overlap happens. Sometimes you can design content that will appeal to links page curators and industry bloggers — just not incredibly often.

Alternately, your mission to serve linker-valued audiences could support a PR campaign. For example, a company with senior citizen customers could create a training course for seniors caring for partners with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps with on-phone support, webinars, or even live education sessions at local venues. This effort could justify an online PR campaign.

If you have the time and resources, the best way to get to know customers is to schedule some phone calls. Nothing beats a real-time conversation to determine the needs and pains of particular audiences.

Once the Link Strategist has defined the content need, it’s time to round up the rest of the team to begin content creation and promotion.


A solid link-building strategy can give a campaign the relevance to attract linkers and the purpose to help their audiences. A Link Strategist may wear a few other hats on an enterprise team (e.g., content creator, PR manager, social media manager). But the Strategist should have the time and resources to spend at least 10–15 hours a week researching linker audiences and developing campaign strategy.

In our next posts, we’ll develop the rest of the enterprise-level link-building team, from linker prospecting to outreach mastery. Linkable content strategy may be a paradigm shift, but it’s a change in thinking that builds real results. Stay tuned.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)

Seo In Young says 'Let's Just Say We Loved' ft. Lil Boi + tops 3 music charts!

Seo In Young has just released her new ballad single “Let’s Just Say We Loved” featuring talented rapper Lil Boi

As soon as she released the track, it topped music charts. According to her company, as of August 11 at 9am KST, her new track is the top song on Mnet, Olleh Music, and Monkey3! The song is also ranked high on other charts, and she’s said to be the only solo female singer currently in the top 10 on music charts!

It’s a beautiful track featuring Seo In Young’s soft vocals and Lil Boi’s catchy rap, who you of course know from Geeks and as a ‘SMTM4‘ contestant!

SEE ALSO: Seo In Young added on as a new MC for ‘Witch Hunt’

Check it out above!


topseos.com Announces August 2015 Rankings of Ten Best Enterprise SEO Firms

NAPLES, FL–(Marketwired – August 08, 2015) – The August 2015 edition of the rankings of top enterprise SEO companies has been revealed by the independent research team at topseos.com. The ratings consist of the ten top enterprise SEO companies in the search marketing industry based on an in-depth evaluation of how they provide their solutions. Each month the ratings are revisited based on the results of the evaluation process which aims to highlight only the best companies based on merit. Businesses often turn to topseos.com when searching for companies which are experienced and well adapted to the latest industry trends and developments.

Each month the best enterprise SEO agencies are put through a meticulous evaluation process in order to determine which agencies produce the best services overall. The process involves an in-depth analysis of best performing companies in areas including core leadership, technology, on-page and off-page, service, and process and strategy. Client evaluations of competing enterprise SEO agencies are contacted in order to obtain their unique inputs and suggestions on the agencies they have used.

The 10 top enterprise SEO services for August 2015 are:

1. WebiMax

2. 180Fusion

3. Bruce Clay

4. Straight North

5. Customer Magnetism

6. ICrossing

7. Geary LSF Group

8. IProspect

9. Reprise Media

10. Blue Corona

ABOUT topseos.com

topseos.com is an established independent research firm focusing on the analysis and recommendations of internet marketing agencies all around the world. The recommendations are created by the independent research team each month to showcase the best enterprise SEO agencies based on their performance and their rating achieved through the proprietary analysis process.

Those interested in applying for the rankings can visit:


DNS Made Easy Launches New Study on Client Success Stories

RESTON, VA – DNS Made Easy has been helping businesses of all sizes increase their uptime, boost their SEO ranks, and connect users to their clients faster for over 14 years. In a new study launching this month, the DNSME staff has been contacting clients and collaborating with them to write their success stories. The upcoming series of DNS Success Stories will cover everyone from new clients to companies that have stuck by DNSME for over a decade.

The study began as a series of questions directed towards corporate users investigating why users made the switch to outsourced DNS, what problems did DNSME fix, and what goals these companies had that DNSME could help with. One corporate user told us, “Because we are a very small company (husband and wife), we cannot afford to invest in the infrastructure required to provide world-class DNS services to our clients.” However, they found that DNS Made Easy was able to provide them with reliable and “affordable” DNS services that in turn, they were able to pass on to their clients.

Many users stressed the importance of Failover Services and Monitoring, the flexibility of having up to 10 A records covered with a corporate membership. “Failover transitions are seamless to the customer,” remarks one user, and the interface is easy to use allowing users to quickly set up Automated Failover. This is a crucial feature that is often overlooked by small businesses who neglect to outsource their DNS. Failover enables users to redirect traffic when one IP address goes down. The result is almost impossible to detect to the end user and allows businesses to always stay online.

One corporate user who runs an online training service for businesses and educators says, “DNS Made Easy has helped us to keep a 99.9% uptime on our SAAS application.” When one IP goes down “DNS Made Easy quickly switches to our secondary IP. Maintaining the same URL, we do not need to use a different security certificate… A great value and a great company!” DNSME’s Secondary DNS services have received much praise from clients over the last few months in light of recent DDOS attacks and internal system failures among ISP’s and other DNS providers.

Many DNSME clients run websites for law firms, DNS has become a priority for businesses like law firms as most of their clients come through organic search queries. In other words, SEO has become the number one priority for businesses, and a reliable and fast DNS provider has been proven to help boost SEO ranks. One firm remarks, “Tutorials and white papers [are] easy to understand and use.  I was able to purchase the right services for our firm and we’ve had no troubles since switching to DNS Made Easy.” Adding that, “Billing and renewal was straightforward too and I appreciate not being upsold with products and services I do not need.”

Over the course of the study, the main focus will be the relationship between businesses and their DNS provider; how this relationship is founded on the core values of reliability and transparency. “Buying a membership with DNSME is not a one time deal, rather it’s the beginning of a partnership,” says President and Founder of DNS Made Easy Steven Job. “Our services were built around customer needs and feedback, we are constantly researching and evolving so that we can exceed our client’s needs.”

About DNS Made Easy

DNS Made Easy is a subsidiary of Tiggee LLC, and is a world leader in providing global IP Anycast+ enterprise DNS services. DNS Made Easy implemented the industry’s first triple independent Anycast cloud architecture for maximum DNS speed and DNS redundancy. Originally launched in 2002, DNS Made Easy’s services have grown to manage hundreds of thousands of customer domains receiving more than 15 billion queries per day. Today, DNS Made Easy builds on a proud history of uptime and is the preferred DNS hosting choice for most major brands, especially companies that compare price and performance of enterprise IP Anycast alternatives.

Discuss, review, rate and learn more about web hosting at HostDiscussion.com.