Before online marketing channels emerged, the cost to market products or services was often prohibitively expensive, and traditionally difficult to measure. Think of national television ad campaigns, which are measured through consumer focus groups to determine levels of brand awareness. These methods are also not well-suited to controlled experimentation. Today, anyone with an online business (as well as most offline businesses) can participate in online marketing by creating a website and building customer acquisition campaigns at little to no cost. Those marketing products and services also have the ability to experiment with optimization to fine-tune their campaigns’ efficiency and ROI.

You should optimize your site to serve your users' needs. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offer vastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss below should apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope our guide gives you some fresh ideas on how to improve your website, and we'd love to hear your questions, feedback, and success stories in the Google Webmaster Help Forum1.
When we talk about ad links, we're not talking about search ads on Google or Bing, or social media ads on Facebook or LinkedIn. We're talking about sites that charge a fee for post a backlink to your site, and which may or may not make it clear that the link is a paid advertisement. Technically, this is a grey or black hat area, as it more or less amounts to link farming when it's abused. Google describes such arrangements as "link schemes," and takes a pretty firm stance against them.
The PageRank algorithm outputs a probability distribution used to represent the likelihood that a person randomly clicking on links will arrive at any particular page. PageRank can be calculated for collections of documents of any size. It is assumed in several research papers that the distribution is evenly divided among all documents in the collection at the beginning of the computational process. The PageRank computations require several passes, called "iterations", through the collection to adjust approximate PageRank values to more closely reflect the theoretical true value.
Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices.[53] Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's list.[54]

Establishment of customer exclusivity: A list of customers and customer's details should be kept on a database for follow up and selected customers can be sent selected offers and promotions of deals related to the customer's previous buyer behaviour. This is effective in digital marketing as it allows organisations to build up loyalty over email.[22]
Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page30 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing "not found" errors31.
The search engine results page (SERP) is the actual result returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query. The SERP consists of a list of links to web pages with associated text snippets. The SERP rank of a web page refers to the placement of the corresponding link on the SERP, where higher placement means higher SERP rank. The SERP rank of a web page is a function not only of its PageRank, but of a relatively large and continuously adjusted set of factors (over 200).[35] Search engine optimization (SEO) is aimed at influencing the SERP rank for a website or a set of web pages.
There is another way to gain quality backlinks to your site, in addition to related site themes: anchor text. When a link incorporates a keyword into the text of the hyperlink, we call this quality anchor text. A link's anchor text may be one of the under-estimated resources a webmaster has. Instead of using words like "click here" which probably won't relate in any way to your website, using the words "Please visit our tips page for how to nurse an orphaned kitten" is a far better way to utilize a hyperlink. A good tool for helping you find your backlinks and what text is being used to link to your site is the Backlink Anchor Text Analysis Tool. If you find that your site is being linked to from another website, but the anchor text is not being utilized properly, you should request that the website change the anchor text to something incorporating relevant keywords. This will also help boost your quality backlinks score.
Understand that whatever you're going to do, you'll need traffic. If you don't have any money at the outset, your hands will be tied no matter what anyone tells you. The truth is that you need to drive traffic to your offers if you want them to convert. These are what we call landing pages or squeeze pages. This is where you're coming into contact with the customers, either for the first time or after they get to know you a little bit better.

Finally, it’s critical you spend time and resources on your business’s website design. When these aforementioned customers find your website, they’ll likely feel deterred from trusting your brand and purchasing your product if they find your site confusing or unhelpful. For this reason, it’s important you take the time to create a user-friendly (and mobile-friendly) website.
This must be one of the most controversial attributes ever. I participate in photographic communities. The textual content there is quite sparse, as it is a visual medium, with only basic descriptions. However, the community is very active and the participants leave a lot of meaningful comments. Now, with the “nofollow” used everywhere the photographic community is punishing itself for being active and interactive without knowing it. WordPress and Pixelpost now have “nofollow” built in almost on any list of links (blog-roll, comments etc). The plug-in and theme developers for these platforms followed suit and yes, you’ve guessed it – added “nofollow” almost on every link. So, every time I leave a comment without being an anonymous coward or if some one likes my blog and links to it in their blog-roll than I’m or they are diluting the rank of my blog? Does it mean for my own good I should stop participating in the community? Should I visit hundreds of blogs I visited in last three years and ask the owners to remove my comments and remove my site from their blog-roll to stop my PageRank from free falling?
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.[35] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[36] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[37] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [38]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
Hemanth Kumar, a good rule of thumb is: if a link on your website is internal (that is, it points back to your website), let it flow PageRank–no need to use nofollow. If a link on your website points to a different website, much of the time it still makes sense for that link to flow PageRank. The time when I would use nofollow are when you can’t or don’t want to vouch for a site, e.g. if a link is added by an outside user that you don’t particularly trust. For example, if an unknown user leaves a link on your guestbook page, that would be a great time to use the nofollow attribute on that link.
Nashville Grant, here’s the mental model I’d employ: search engines want to return great content. If you make such a fantastic site that all the web has heard of you, search engines should normally reflect that fact and return your site. A lot of bad SEO happens because people say “I’ll force my way to the top of Google first, and then everyone will find out about my site.” Putting rankings before the creation of a great site is in many ways putting the cart before the horse. Often the search rankings follow from the fact that you’re getting to be well-known on the web completely outside the sphere of search. Think about sites like Twitter and Facebook–they succeed by chasing a vision of what users would want. In chasing after that ideal of user happiness and satisfaction, they became the sort of high-quality sites that search engines want to return, because we also want to return what searches will find useful and love. By chasing a great user experience above search rankings, many sites turn out to be what search engines would want to return anyway.
Brian, just wanted to start off by saying great informative article, you had a lot of great of insight. I see it was mentioned a bit in the above comments, about the infographic, but I thought it is a great idea to include a textbox under the infographic with the coding that could be copied to be pasted on blogs (thus, earning additional backlinks from other websites). I’ve also noticed many infographics that have “resources” or “references” included in the image. My understanding is currently it is not recognized by google, because of the image format, but I foresee one day Google may be able to update their algorithm to recognize written text inside of an image, and thus potentially adding value to the written text in the image. What are your thoughts on that idea?
Well, something similar happened with PageRank, a brilliant child of Google founders Larry Page (who gave his name to the child and played off the concept of a web-page) and Sergey Brin. It helped Google to become the search giant that dictates the rules for everybody else, and at the same time it created an array of complicated situations that at some point got out of hand.
For instance, you might use Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences to get your message in front of an audience similar to your core demographic. Or, you could pay a social media influencer to share images of your products to her already well-established community. Paid social media can attract new customers to your brand or product, but you’ll want to conduct market research and A/B testing before investing too much in one social media channel.
However, some of the world's top-earning blogs gross millions of dollars per month on autopilot. It's a great source of passive income and if you know what you're doing, you could earn a substantial living from it. You don't need millions of visitors per month to rake in the cash, but you do need to connect with your audience and have clarity in your voice.
SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
Hi Dean! Thanks for the ideas! They are awesome! However, I have a serious doubt about the Scholarship link. I’ve checked a few of those .edu sites.. and now that so many people have followed your tips… those .edu sites have TONS of links to niche sites… even if the link comes from a high DA site.. don’t you think it might be weird in the eyes of google? I don’t know if it might be dangerous to have a link from the same page with hundreds of low quality sites (not all of them, but some for sure).. what do you think? Thanks!
However, if you are seasoned online marketer, and you've built a substantial following, then marketing as an affiliate might be the right fit. Jason Stone from Millionaire Mentor has built a seven-figure business with affiliate marketing, while David Sharpe from Legendary Marketer has built up an eight-figure business by creating an army of affiliates that market products in collaboration with his team.
Ask for a technical and search audit for your site to learn what they think needs to be done, why, and what the expected outcome should be. You'll probably have to pay for this. You will probably have to give them read-only access to your site on Search Console. (At this stage, don't grant them write access.) Your prospective SEO should be able to give you realistic estimates of improvement, and an estimate of the work involved. If they guarantee you that their changes will give you first place in search results, find someone else.

All of the examples above and more could be used as anchor text for the same backlink. Google will index each differently. Not only that, Google will even examine the few words before and after the anchor text as well as take into account all of the text on the page. It will also attribute value to which backlink was first in the page and diminish the value for each following link.
To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect32 from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel="canonical"33 link element if you cannot redirect.
Some brilliant tips and advice here, I am curious you mention the directory sites to submit to and I notice a lot of my competitors are on such sites but a lot of these sites want links back which would mean I would need pages of links on my site and that is something I don’t see on competitors sites – how do they manage that would it be all paid for or is there a trick

Webmasters and content providers began optimizing websites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all webmasters needed only 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.[5] The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine's own server. A second program, known as an indexer, extracts information about the page, such as the words it contains, where they are located, and any weight for specific words, as well as all links the page contains. All of this information is then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.

7. Keyword research. Specific target keywords aren’t as important for SEO success as they used to be, now that Google search is fueled by semantic and contextual understanding, but you should still be able to identify both head keyword (short, high-volume keywords) and long-tail keyword (longer, conversational, low-volume keywords) targets to guide the direction of your campaign.
As of 2009, there are only a few large markets where Google is not the leading search engine. In most cases, when Google is not leading in a given market, it is lagging behind a local player. The most notable example markets are China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the Czech Republic where respectively Baidu, Yahoo! Japan, Naver, Yandex and Seznam are market leaders.
Current search engine optimization focuses on techniques such as making sure that each web page has appropriate title tags and that the content is not "thin" or low-quality. High-quality content is original, authoritative, factual, grammatically correct, and engaging to users. Poorly edited articles with spelling and grammatical errors will be demoted by search engines.
I personally nofollow links to my privacy policy and contact form. Even though these are excluded in robots.txt, I prefer that extra layer of protection so that the pages are not indexed. Anyone that has ever had their contact form blasted continuously by spammers knows what I mean. And yes, one could add the noindex meta tag. But let’s face it, not everyone is a skilled PHP programmer. On dynamic sites its not as simple as adding a meta tag…
If you build a new site and only used Domain Authority to create links, you could EASILY have got linked from the worst page possible, even if it was from the best domain, because of the INTERNAL LINKS of the other web pages! How on earth are you going to be able to see the strength of a link if that strength depends on the internal links on an entirely different website?!
3) Some people don’t believe things have changed. In fact, if things really changed substantially a year ago, you’d think a few of the advanced SEOs out there would have noticed this and talked about it. But nada. There are lots of reasons why the change could have happened and not been spotted. Sculpting might really have been a second or third order factor, as Matt calls it — not helping things as much as some have assumed. SEOs that spotted it might have stayed quiet. Or, it didn’t change — and still hasn’t changed — and sculpting does work even better than Google thought, so it wants to put out a message that it doesn’t, in hopes of putting the genie back in the bottle. That’s probably the major conspiracy theory out there.

Our SEM team has been managing paid search since its inception and is driven solely by analytics and financial data. Our core focus is to expand our clients’ campaigns, drive quality traffic that will foster conversions and increase revenue, while decreasing the cost per acquisition. IMI’s PPC team members are recognized thought leaders, active bloggers and speakers and major tradeshows, and care deeply about each and every client. We manage our client’s budgets as if it was our own, tracking every dollar and optimizing towards very specific milestones and metrics.
In this new world of digital transparency brands have to be very thoughtful in how they engage with current and potential customers. Consumers have an endless amount of data at their fingertips especially through social media channels, rating and review sites, blogs, and more. Unless brands actively engage in these conversations they lose the opportunity for helping guide their brand message and addressing customer concerns.
I think that removing the link to the sitemap shouldn’t be a big problem for the navigation, but I wonder what happens with the disclaimer and the contact page? If nofollow doesn’t sink the linked page, how can we tell the search engine that these are not content pages. For some websites these are some of the most linked pages. And yes for some the contact page is worth gaining rank, but for my website is not.
For instance, if you have an article called “How To Do Keyword Research,” you can help reinforce to Google the relevance of this page for the subject/phrase “keyword research” by linking from an article reviewing a keyword research tool to your How To Do Keyword Research article. This linking strategy is part of effective siloing, which helps clarify your main website themes.
Moreover, the PageRank mechanism is entirely general, so it can applied to any graph or network in any field. Currently, the PR formula is used in bibliometrics, social and information network analysis, and for link prediction and recommendation. It's even used for system analysis of road networks, as well as biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and physics. 

The amount of link juice passed depends on two things: the number of PageRank points of the webpage housing the link, and the total number of links on the webpage that are passing PageRank. It’s worth noting here that while Google will give every website a public-facing PageRank score that is between 1 and 10, the “points” each page accumulates from the link juice passed by high-value inbound links can — and do — significantly surpass ten. For instance, webpages on the most powerful and significant websites can pass link juice points in the hundreds or thousands. To keep the rating system concise, Google uses a lot of math to correlate very large (and very small) PageRank values with a neat and clean 0 to 10 rating scale.
Game advertising - In-Game advertising is defined as "inclusion of products or brands within a digital game."[49] The game allows brands or products to place ads within their game, either in a subtle manner or in the form of an advertisement banner. There are many factors that exist in whether brands are successful in their advertising of their brand/product, these being: Type of game, technical platform, 3-D and 4-D technology, game genre, congruity of brand and game, prominence of advertising within the game. Individual factors consist of attitudes towards placement advertisements, game involvement, product involvement, flow or entertainment. The attitude towards the advertising also takes into account not only the message shown but also the attitude towards the game. Dependent of how enjoyable the game is will determine how the brand is perceived, meaning if the game isn't very enjoyable the consumer may subconsciously have a negative attitude towards the brand/product being advertised. In terms of Integrated Marketing Communication "integration of advertising in digital games into the general advertising, communication, and marketing strategy of the firm"[49] is an important as it results in a more clarity about the brand/product and creates a larger overall effect.
Re: Cameron’s Comment. Google transparent? Maybe. Great products for users – yes… but they operate from lofty towers. Can’t get a hold of them. Can’t contact them. They are the ONLY company in the world with zero customer support for their millions of users. Who really knows what they are doing from one month to the month in regards to ranking sites… etc.
Also, I’ve never found that page rank scultping worked. It might have for smaller sites that have a simple structure to follow. but in case of CMS’s handling a large number of pages and dynamic websites, its not practical to have an intricate graph of how your page rank flows. I mean, even if you did, wouldn’t it be easy and clever if you just leave some thumb rules (like always nofollowing an external link) and leave it to Google for the rest ? Rather ocus on the content ?
Mani, could not agree more your statements. It’s no wonder the SEO industry has such a bad name and it’s 99.9% Snake Oil. Still, Google, this Blog and other “SEO” sites are partly responsible for the PR hysteria, link spam and email spam for PR. Google should also put an end to Webmasters being screwed by SEO, but placing a BIG prominet statements on their Webmaster pages along the lines of;
But this leads to a question — if my husband wants to do a roundup of every Wagner Ring Cycle on DVD, that’s about 8 Amazon links on the page, all bleeding PR away from his substantive insights. If he, instead, wants to do a roundup of every Ring Cycle on CD, that’s about two dozen items worth discussing. The page would be very handy for users, and would involve considerably more effort on his part… but no good deed goes unpunished, and in the eyes of Google the page would be devalued by more than two thirds. 

Our agency can provide both offensive and defensive ORM strategies as well as preventive ORM that includes developing new pages and social media profiles combined with consulting on continued content development. Our ORM team consists of experts from our SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, and PR teams. At the end of the day, ORM is about getting involved in the online “conversations” and proactively addressing any potentially damaging content.
As they noted in their paper, pages stuffed fulled of useless keywords “often wash out any results that a user is interested in.” While we often complain when we run into spammy pages today, the issue was far worse then. In their paper they state that, “as of November 1997, only one of the top four commercial search engines finds itself (returns its own search page in response to its name in the top ten results).” That’s incredibly difficult to imagine happening now. Imagine searching for the word “Google” in that search engine, and not have it pull up in the first page of results. And yet, that’s how bad it was 20 years ago.
Another way to get sites to link back to something valuable on your site is by offering a free tool. A free tool could be a basic tool (like an auto loan calculator) or a scaled down version of a paid tool (like Alexa’s Site Overview and Audience Overlap tools). If the tools are valuable enough, others will link to them in their content. Plus, on free versions of paid tools, you can add call-to-actions to sign up for the full product/service which drives acquisition in addition to awareness.
Page rank is an assessment of the authority and value of a website in Google’s algorithm. You can find plug-in tools for your browser or online tools (see the references section for links to some of these) to check the page rank of any given site. You can also check your own website’s page rank. The higher the page rank, the more likely it is that your SEO efforts are succeeding.
That type of earth-shattering failure and pain really does a number on a person. Getting clean and overcoming those demons isn't as simple as people make it out to be. You need to have some serious deep-down reasons on why you must succeed at all costs. You have to be able to extricate yourself from the shackles of bad habits that have consumed you during your entire life. And that's precisely what Sharpe did.
Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Excellent post! I’m reasonably savvy up to a certain point and have managed to get some of my health content organically ranking higher than WebMD. It’s taken a long time building strong backlinks from very powerful sites (HuffingtonPost being one of them), but I am going to take some time, plow through a few beers, and then get stuck into implementing some of these suggestions. Keep up the great work amigo. Cheers, Bill

I personally nofollow links to my privacy policy and contact form. Even though these are excluded in robots.txt, I prefer that extra layer of protection so that the pages are not indexed. Anyone that has ever had their contact form blasted continuously by spammers knows what I mean. And yes, one could add the noindex meta tag. But let’s face it, not everyone is a skilled PHP programmer. On dynamic sites its not as simple as adding a meta tag…
There are simple and fast random walk-based distributed algorithms for computing PageRank of nodes in a network.[33] They present a simple algorithm that takes {\displaystyle O(\log n/\epsilon )} rounds with high probability on any graph (directed or undirected), where n is the network size and {\displaystyle \epsilon } is the reset probability ( {\displaystyle 1-\epsilon } is also called as damping factor) used in the PageRank computation. They also present a faster algorithm that takes {\displaystyle O({\sqrt {\log n}}/\epsilon )} rounds in undirected graphs. Both of the above algorithms are scalable, as each node processes and sends only small (polylogarithmic in n, the network size) number of bits per round.
In an effort to manually control the flow of PageRank among pages within a website, many webmasters practice what is known as PageRank Sculpting[65]—which is the act of strategically placing the nofollow attribute on certain internal links of a website in order to funnel PageRank towards those pages the webmaster deemed most important. This tactic has been used since the inception of the nofollow attribute, but may no longer be effective since Google announced that blocking PageRank transfer with nofollow does not redirect that PageRank to other links.[66]