14 Proven Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Feeling overwhelmed by the infinite options for driving traffic to your website? You’re not alone.

This article doesn’t list every traffic strategy under the sun. Instead, it lists the tactics we’ve used at Ahrefs. 

Let’s get to it.

1. Target topics people are searching for

The Ahrefs blog gets over 427,000 monthly organic visitors.

Amount of organic traffic the Ahrefs blog is receiving, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

No doubt, search engine optimization (SEO) can work. For as long as you rank high on Google, you’ll be able to generate consistent organic traffic to your site. 

To do this, you need to write about topics people are searching for. Here’s how to find them:

  1. Enter one or a few relevant keywords into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Switch the tab to Questions
The Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Here, you’ll see >46,000 potential topics you can target. That’s probably too many, so you’ll want to narrow the list down by looking for keywords that are:

  1. High in Traffic Potential (TP) – TP is the estimated amount of search traffic you can potentially gain if you rank #1 for that topic. We calculate it by estimating the amount of search traffic the #1 page currently gets.
  2. Low in Keyword Difficulty (KD) – KD is how difficult it is to rank for the keyword in the top 10 organic search results. 

Use the filters to reduce the list down to something manageable.

Then pick out those keywords that are relevant to your site. 

Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs 

2. Fill “missing” content gaps

A piece of content can rank for thousands of keywords. 

Chart showing the average number of keywords the top 20 ranking pages also rank for

Most of them will be different ways of looking for the same thing, but some will be important subtopics you need to cover in your content. 

If you can cover these “content gaps”—subtopics you’re currently missing—you can potentially rank higher for your target keyword and get more search traffic.

Here’s how to find these “content gaps”:

  1. Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Content Gap tool
  3. In the top section, enter a few competing pages
  4. In the bottom section, enter the URL of the page you want to fill content gaps for
  5. Hit Show keywords
The Content Gap tool

Eyeball the list and see if there are any subtopics you can cover on your page.

Results from the Content Gap tool

For example, if we wanted to update our post on evergreen content, we’d likely have to fill in two subtopics:

  • Evergreen ads
  • Evergreen content on social media

Guest blogging is where you write for other blogs. In return, the owner/editor will allow you to link back to your site. 

The benefits include:

Here’s an example of a guest post I wrote for SmartBlogger:

A guest post for SmartBlogger

How do you find relevant guest blogging opportunities? Here’s how:

  1. Enter a relevant keyword into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer (set it to In title)
  2. Filter for One page per domain, Exclude homepages, and Exclude subdomains
  3. Filter for Explicit results
  4. Add a Language filter for the language you write in
  5. Add a Domain Rating filter for 30–70 to weed out low-authority sites (and remove “ultra high authority” sites that you probably won’t be able to pitch to… for now)
  6. Add a Website traffic filter for 5000+ to weed out websites with little or no traffic
  7. Add a Published filter for the Last 90 days to weed out websites that haven’t published content recently
Results shown after applying a set of filters, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

Look through the results to find relevant sites you can potentially guest blog for. 

Don’t worry if they don’t have a “write for us” page or are not advertising for guest posts. Most sites are willing to accept guest posts, even if they’re not explicit about it. After all, free content is free content—especially if it’s good.

Recommended reading: Guest Blogging for SEO: How to Build High-Quality Links at Scale

4. Refresh “outdated” content

I recently updated my post on free SEO tools, and traffic shot up:

The spike in organic traffic for a blog post after it was refreshed

A major SEO mistake is thinking that SEO is a set-it-and-forget-it task. Even if you’re ranking high for your target keyword, that status is not permanent. Competitors may try and “steal” your spot, or Google may lower your rankings when your content becomes outdated. 

So you need to keep your content up to date to maintain your rankings. 

The easiest way to find out which content you should refresh is to install our free WordPress SEO plugin and run an audit. The audit will tell you which articles you should be updating. 

To find out exactly what aspects you need to refresh, look at the search results to see what the top-ranking posts have that you don’t. Often, ranking drops occur because certain parts of your content are outdated. For example:

  • Screenshots
  • Process
  • Stats
  • Links (broken, etc)
  • Year in the title

Depending on the target keyword, sometimes refreshing the outdated sections will suffice. In other cases, you may find that you need to do a full rewrite of the article. (Don’t worry, we do this often too!)

Recommended reading: Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO

From new-ish podcasts to a top 100 business podcast, our chief marketing officer, Tim Soulo, has appeared on them all. 

Tim Soulo's appearance on Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income podcast

There are currently 850,000 active podcasts. And many podcasts need guests. So why not pitch to be one of them? Share your knowledge and, in return, you get brand exposure, referral traffic, links, and more. 

The simplest way to find podcast opportunities is to search for “top [your niche] podcasts” in Google. 

The SERP for the query "top marketing podcasts"

However, some of them may be out of your reach (for now). So here’s how to find podcasts that are likely within your wheelhouse:

  1. Find someone in your industry who has been a guest on many podcasts
  2. Enter their domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  3. Go to the Backlinks report
  4. Set the search to Referring page title and search for their name
The Backlinks report showing referring pages that contain "Laura Roeder" in their title, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Look through the results and pick out those that are relevant podcast opportunities. Then find the host’s email and pitch yourself as a guest. 

6. Collaborate with other brands to tap into their audience

For most businesses, there are plenty of non-competing brands with the same or similar target audience. So why not work together to cross-promote to each other’s audience?

That’s what we did with Buffer, a social media scheduling tool. 

We arranged a joint webinar titled “How to Build Your Website Traffic With Evergreen Content and Social Media.” Then both brands heavily promoted the webinar on social media leading up to day zero. 

Post-webinar, Buffer created a blog post summarizing the presentation, while we posted the recording on YouTube and uploaded the presentation slides on SlideShare.

Takeaway: look for opportunities to partner with brands that solve different problems for a similar audience. That way, you can each gain access to an entirely new user base.

7. Share barebones posts on Reddit

With over 330 million monthly active users, it seems a no-brainer to promote on Reddit. 

With one exception: Reddit hates marketing. 

If Redditors catch even a whiff of self-promotion, they will not hesitate to downvote your post, delete it, or even ban you from the subreddit. They may even blacklist your domain.

Yet, Tim managed to successfully “promote” his link building post:

Tim Soulo's post on the subreddit, r/bigSEO

Reddit enjoys helpful and valuable content. Its users are only antagonistic to spammers. So to promote on Reddit, you can replicate what Tim did:

Take one of your blog posts, strip away all internal and external links, format it in markdown, and share it on a relevant subreddit. Only at the end do you leave a link back to your original blog post.

Notice that even though it was a “tl;dr,” it was still meaty with tons of helpful information for Redditors. The post was valuable on its own, whether or not people clicked through the link. That’s what you should be aiming for. 


Don’t promote every new post you publish on Reddit. That makes you a spammer. Choose only the ones you’re truly proud of. 

Recommended reading: Reddit Marketing: How to Self Promote on Reddit and Get More Traffic

People usually have tons of related questions when researching a topic. While you should strive to answer most of them, sometimes it’s just impossible to weave them naturally into your content.

You can solve this by adding an FAQ section at the end of your article. That can potentially help your content rank for more long-tail keywords and get more search traffic. 

The FAQ section in an Ahrefs blog post on H1 tags

The easiest way to find these questions is to Google your target keyword and look for the People Also Ask (PAA) questions that appear. 

People Also Ask questions for the query "improve gut health"

You can also look at the Questions report in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

The Questions report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

9. Create Twitter threads

Threads get a lot of engagement on Twitter. Take, for example, this thread from our head of content, Joshua Hardwick: 

He hardly even tweets!

You don’t have to do this from scratch. Just take one of your existing blog posts and repurpose it. Paste your content into a tool like Typefully and edit from there.

An example of a Twitter thread on Typefully

Then add a link back to your blog post at the end of the thread.

Recommended reading: How to Write a Tweetstorm 

10. Post regularly on LinkedIn

Our posts on LinkedIn generate a ton of engagement and clicks. 

A post on Ahrefs' LinkedIn page

Yes, LinkedIn may not be the sexiest social media platform. But don’t sleep on it. More and more people are rediscovering LinkedIn’s ability to send tons of traffic.

The good news is that you don’t have to create content from scratch. Simply repurpose your existing content, which is what we do.

Even better: repost what you’re already posting on Twitter. It works really well.

11. Reach out to amplifiers

Amplifiers are people with a large audience on email, social, and more. Most importantly, they have the ability to share your content with their audience and send tons of traffic to your site. 

The easiest way to find amplifiers in your niche is to use SparkToro. The free version allows you to run up to five searches a month, which should be enough to get started.

An example of a query on the tool, SparkToro

From there, you can look at who these amplifiers are following—and pursue the trail to find more amplifiers. 

However, it’s not as simple as sending them an email and asking them to promote your website. Not only are they not obliged to do so, but they also get no benefits. 

This means you need to give them a reason. 

There are two ways to do this. 

One, show them something new and valuable. If you have something that’s truly unique (e.g., original data), then they may appreciate a heads-up. For example, Rand Fishkin tweeted about our Google Search Console study (even though we didn’t ask him to!).

Compare that to his response a few years ago, when Tim asked Rand to check out his blog post that was, in hindsight, not unique:

Rand Fishkin's reply to Tim's pitch in 2015

How do you create something unique? Here are some ideas:

  1. Do you have personal experience with something? If not, can you test or experience it yourself?
  2. Do you have access to data? Alternatively, you can find someone who has and work with them. Then analyze the data and present your findings. 
  3. Can you interview experts? You can talk to thought leaders in your field and share their expertise and knowledge. 

Two, feature them. If your content featured one of their quotes, articles, or even themselves, then it’s a legit reason to tell them. 

A Twitter DM conversation

They’ll be delighted to know they’ve been featured. 

One final tip: Don’t expect that they’ll share your content with their following. If they do, it’s cool. If they don’t, it’s cool too.

Focus on building the relationship. It may eventually lead to something more: a link, a partnership, or even a future business collaboration. 

Recommended reading: Who Will Amplify This? And Why?

At Ahrefs, we offer plenty of free SEO tools.

Ahrefs' Free SEO Tools page

Combined, they generate almost 400,000 monthly search visits.

The amount of organic traffic Ahrefs' free SEO tools get in total

Don’t write this off as a tactic only for software businesses. Other businesses can do it too. For example, Crunch provides accounting services and offers a free “take home pay” calculator.

Crunch's free take-home-pay calculator

However, don’t simply go and create any tool. If you’re going to invest time, effort, and money into this endeavor, you want it to do well. So you should create tools that actually have demand.

Here’s how to find such opportunities:

  1. Enter a relevant keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. In the Include box, search for terms like tool, tools, calculator, checker, template, report, etc (choose Any word)
The results after filtering for words like calculator, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Look through the list to find the most relevant free tool you can create that will send you traffic and business. 

13. Rank videos on Google

Meet Sam Oh, our YouTube master. Not only did he help build our YouTube channel to 330,000 subscribers, but he also managed to drive traffic to our videos from Google.

The amount of views Ahrefs' YouTube channel is receiving from Google search

How did he do that?

Simple: YouTube videos rank on Google too. 

The Video SERP results for the query "how to make kefir at home"

To rank your videos on Google, you need to find topics that people prefer to watch videos about. Here’s how to find them:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Run this search: site:youtube.com inurl:watch title:topic
  3. Sort the results by Page traffic
Results in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

This will give you a list of YouTube videos that currently get search traffic from Google. Look through the list to find relevant topics you can cover.

Follow our resource below to create a video that’ll rank for these topics:

If you have the budget and are willing to invest, don’t forget that you can always buy paid traffic from platforms like Google and Facebook. 

In fact, that’s what we do at Ahrefs.

An example of a Facebook Ad from Ahrefs

However, you’re not only limited to just Google and Facebook. Given how popular they are—and therefore expensive—you can always consider running ads on other social platforms like Pinterest, Quora, YouTube, or even TikTok. 

For example, we run search ads on YouTube, and they only cost us $0.01/min.

We also run ads on Quora and are getting relatively cheap(er) clicks.

Examples of Quora ads from Ahrefs

Expand your view, consider other platforms, and you’ll realize that online advertising may not be as expensive as you thought.

Final thoughts

Experiment with the above traffic strategies and start generating traffic to your website.

Did I miss out on any cool tactics? Let me know on Twitter

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6 Things I Love About Zapier’s SEO Strategy: A Case Study

Zapier is an “automation platform.” If you look at this single phrase that defines its category, there is not much search demand: 200 monthly searches in the U.S. and around 1.1K globally. It doesn’t seem quite like a $144M ARR business opportunity. And judging by search demand, it’s not something you’ll promote with SEO. 

Yet, Zapier’s blog alone brings 1.6M organic visits every month. That’s traffic worth about $3.7M and 67.5% of its overall organic traffic. 

Organic traffic to Zapier's blog

So let’s see why Zapier didn’t turn away from SEO and how it managed to make SEO work like a charm.

1. Pitching the product through the back door 

SEO is generally worth it if one of the following things is true:

  1. Potential customers are searching for what you sell or do.
  2. Potential customers are searching for solutions to problems your business helps to solve.

But there seems to be a third way. It’s when potential customers are searching for solutions you can improve upon or even disrupt. Zapier seems to follow this tactic exceptionally well. 

Chart about pitching a product through the back door

The whole concept reminds me of using a back door. Here’s an example. This article about “to-do list” apps can’t possibly talk about Zapier directly because Zapier is not that kind of app. 

Zapier's article header: "best to do list apps"

So instead, the article introduces the app through a series of “back doors.” Here’s back door #1:

Example of "back door" product pitching in content

And back door #2:

Example of "back door" product pitching in content

There are even more back doors here leading to product marketing articles:

  • Link to another blog post with more automation ideas
  • Links to product landing pages explaining the entire integration with a given app (example)
  • Link inside the “related reading” section 

Why build these back doors? Because thanks to high-volume keywords and their long-tail… 

High volume organic keywords for Zapier's article

… this one article gets 58.8K organic search visits monthly. 

"Best to do list" article's total estimated organic traffic

That’s a ton of traffic Zapier can channel to its money pages. 

Add some more articles like that, and you’ve discovered the pattern behind the best-performing articles on Zapier’s blog. 

Best-performing articles on Zapier's blog

But not only is the organic traffic impressive here. Rankings are too. There are 2,397 keywords with the “best” pattern ranking in positions #1–3 in the U.S. alone. 

Keywords with the “best” pattern ranking in positions #1–3 in the U.S.

There’s more. Some of those “best” articles earned backlinks from hundreds of referring domains, including high-DR ones. 

Backlinks from high-DR domains


If you’ll like to replicate the “back door” tactic, the process can look something like this: 

  1. Publish an article explaining a use case of your product 
  2. Look for keywords with high search demand related to that use case
  3. Write an article directly targeting that high search volume keyword and insert a link to the article explaining the use case—that link is the back door 

This way, searchers can get what they expect from an article directly targeting the broad keyword and then some more, thanks to your use case. Keep in mind, though, that some of those broader keywords can be tough to rank for. 

There may be another approach to creating the back door. You can start from keyword research:

  1. Look for keywords with high search demand and are somehow related to your product 
  2. See if your product can improve what people are searching for and write an article describing that use case (the back door) 
  3. Write the article targeting the broad keyword and insert the back door inside the article 

It may also be worth noting that this tactic is as good as the sign on the back door, i.e., the call to action. I mean, who wouldn’t want to automate their tasks for free? 

Zapier's irresistible CTA button
Automate the what? Oh… then yes, please.

2. Ranking for other people’s keywords. Because Google and searchers demand it

Let’s take a look at the next biggest source of traffic after the blog. 

Site structure report for zapier.com

So what are “apps”? That’s a bunch of product landing pages that get their traffic from pure demand for Zapier’s apps or features, right? 

Not exactly. The main driver of traffic to those pages is demand for somebody else’s apps. 

Zapier doesn’t simply list its apps. It lists other people’s app integrations with other people’s apps. 

And if I’m not mistaken, we’re not necessarily talking about the demand that Zapier invented. We’re not talking about an out-of-the-blue invention like Metallica + Lady Gaga. 

Unstable search demand caused by a one-off event
Don’t get me wrong. This cross-over connection makes sense when you think about it.

We’re talking about things that people all over the U.S. actually plug into Google because they need things like Dropbox and Google Drive integration in their lives. 

Organic keywords showing Dropbox and Google Drive integration demand

But why are we even talking about integrating Dropbox with Google Drive and not Dropbox and Zapier? 

Here’s the thing. Zapier integrates with Dropbox, which can be integrated with YouTube, Gmail, Office 365, Notion, and tons of other apps. This means that Zapier integrates with the above apps too. On top of that, there are also three-way connections like Dropbox + Drive + Slack. 

If that’s the actual functionality of the app and some of those connections have “impossible to ignore” search demand, then Zapier will need to create a landing page for each of those situations. 

Guess what. That’s exactly what Zapier did. And it turned out beautifully, driving 16% of the entire organic traffic. Here are some of the top-performing integrations in terms of traffic. 

Zapier's top-performing app integrations landing pages (in terms of organic traffic)

Let’s see what’s inside that “apps folder.”

When you pick one of the apps, you get a landing page with a corresponding title, H1, and URL. 

Example of programmatic landing page

Then you add another app to the mix. Again, a landing page with custom H1 and URL. 

Example of programmatic landing page

But what if the customer wants to connect Google Sheets, Trello, AND Slack? This calls for another landing page (just one more connection before turning into a Rube Goldberg machine). 

Example of programmatic landing page
By the way, these app logos act as breadcrumbs.

Perfect. However, the longer that “train” gets, the fewer keywords the consequent “wagons” rank for. The first page from the above gets an estimated 1.9K organic visits while ranking for 444 keywords. But the last page (Sheets-Trello-Slack) gets no organic traffic.

Programmatic landing page with no organic traffic

The way you create tens of thousands of landing pages within one lifetime appears to be programmatic SEO and Zapier Partner Program.

Thanks to programmatic SEO, Zapier was able to generate the pages instead of manually creating them. While the “human touch” quality of inserting unique content into each of those pages was provided by allowing owners of the apps to write it. 


According to this study by Ryan Berg, Zapier has recently transitioned to a pure programmatic approach. I’m not entirely sure this is the case, but it seems that the amount of original content on the “integrations” pages has, in fact, diminished. 


App profile before the change
More text, and it’s unique.


App profile after the change
Less text, and it’s pulled from another page.

Check out Ryan’s case study to learn more about the effects of the programmatic approach over time. (Ryan started analyzing Zapier in 2018.) And while we’re at other Zapier case studies, this is also an interesting one by Jessica Greene: Does Updating Website Content Work? [Zapier Case Study].  

Zapier uses this kind of landing pages to leverage branded search too.

Keyword research for “zapier” shows over 25K results in the U.S. And that list is full of branded keywords like these: 

Some of Zapier's branded keywords

Most, if not all, of those keywords already have corresponding programmatically generated landing pages. 

By the way, I won’t be surprised if it uses keyword research for market research. It can just see what people plug in Google to invite new partners or build new features. 


There are probably multiple takeaways here. But the main one is search intent, if you ask me. 

Zapier’s app landing pages get so much traffic from other people’s branded keywords because those pages align with search intent flawlessly. 

If you look at the SERP for “google sheet integrations,” there are hardly any content types different from a product landing page. So the investment in devising a system to generate all of those app landing pages seems to work really well. Good thing Zapier didn’t try to target those with how-to blog posts. Blog posts likely don’t stand a chance here. 

SERP for "google sheets integrations" with a clear dominating content type

By the way, I find it fascinating that its Google Sheets integrations landing page ranks at #12 for simply “google sheets.” 

Google Sheets integrations landing page ranks at #12 for “google sheets”

I wonder if there’s anything SEO-wise it can do to jump back to the top 10 like in 2018. 

Google Sheets integrations landing page used to rank at #8 for “google sheets”

3. Self-building content hubs

What I call a self-building content hub (aka topic cluster) is a situation where you organize your existing content into a content hub structure and link new related content (subpages) as you create it. 

Using this strategy, you can commit to creating more content only if the subpages make sense themselves. In other words, you don’t need to take big risks investing in creating or expanding a content hub.

Let’s look at the big picture to give this more context.

Some content marketers build topic clusters in a set-and-forget approach. You see an opportunity, design a topic cluster, build it, and that’s it. You never or hardly ever come back to it. 

Nothing wrong with that. 

But here’s the thing. If you continue to create more content on the same topic, that means that the initial cluster has been expanding all along. And a bigger topic cluster is usually a better topic cluster because it’s more comprehensive. All you need to do is to make the connection like Zapier does. 

To illustrate, we’ve got this guide (a topic cluster, technically speaking) on remote work. In 2017, it was a set of 14 links. It contained only content developed specially for that hub. 

Remote work content hub in 2017 via Wayback Machine

But Zapier hasn’t stopped publishing more stuff about remote work. It’s been busy with creating more guides, listicles, videos, case studies, and reports. 

So it’s included links to all of that new content in the hub. And right now, some five years later, that list of 14 links has grown to over 50 links and some embedded videos. All of them organized into seven categories, plus the initial guide from 2017. 

Seven categories in Zapier's remote work content hub

But why create a content hub in the first place? 

So let’s imagine it hadn’t created that cluster at all. Then it wouldn’t have amassed 4.4K backlinks from 1.1K domains to date. Nor would it have reached the point of 1.1K organic traffic every month to that single page. And that’s on top of the results that each of the linked subpages gets. 

Overview of Zapier's remote work hub via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And like I said, Zapier doesn’t need to create more content for the hub. As it creates content, it can simply link subpages that make sense to the hub.

SEO metrics overview from one of the cluster content pieces linked to the hub
An example of a subpage incorporated into a content hub. Judging by organic traffic, Zapier could create it just for the sake of itself and not necessarily for the hub.

What if it hadn’t added all of those additional links to the cluster? That’s a tougher question to answer. But I guess that is part of the reason why referring domains to the pillar page keep growing steadily over the years. After all, adding more helpful content should make the hub more attractive, hence link-worthy. 

Referring domains graph for Zapier's remote work hub

Let’s not forget those links are, in fact, internal links that distribute link equity from the pillar page to the linked pages. 

All in all, the whole structure of this topic cluster reinforces itself. More content makes the topic cluster more helpful and link-worthy. And when the pillar page gets backlinks, it “gives back” to the linked content by distributing link equity. 


Simply put, consider creating a content hub utilizing your existing content. You can then expand it with new subpages only if they make sense themselves. 

Have a content hub already? See if there is any additional content you can link to on the pillar page. 

Of course, creating a content hub from scratch is still a good idea. That’s what Zapier initially did and then expanded. As we can see from its results, it creates a new “entity” able to generate backlinks and traffic on its own. 

4. Link baiting at the rate of 1.5 domains per word 

Original research makes great link bait. 

But what makes original research good enough to make people link?

This Zapier research shows that it’s not necessarily about the length of the study. 

Header of original research by Zapier

Excuse me while I use a completely made-up metric. But just to show how “efficient” that link bait is, there are 1.5 domains linking to that page per every word used to describe it. That’s including the title and the methodology note. 

But are the linking domains any good?

Here are some of the +90 DR domains linking to this 637-word research, along with their traffic: 

Some of the +90 DR domains linking to Zapier's research

I think this bite-sized research is so powerful because:

  • It answers a really well-posed question: How many Americans had a side hustle? 
  • Side hustles are a sign of the times. 
  • The research gets right to the point. It starts with the most important thing (the answer).
  • There are graphics that tell the story, just waiting to be shared by linkers.
  • After all of that goodness, I don’t think anybody has any problems with the study content including a soft PR pitch of Zapier and a few relevant links to its content. Naturally, those links help to distribute link equity. 


Original research can get you hundreds or even thousands of links. But doing that is no small feat. 

However, Zapier shows that this kind of content doesn’t have to be long to get a ton of links. You don’t even need to do it yourself (Zapier outsourced its own). 

Just make your research timely, important to your target audience and/or the audience you want to pitch to, and get right to the point. 

Some “auto promotion” here and there likely won’t be frowned upon. But first, give people what they came for. 

Oh, and don’t worry if your report won’t take off on social media.

Remember that one of the reasons people use social media is entertainment. Even LinkedIn.

Man celebrating Friday by sipping wine from a wine glass while sitting in a bathtub

5. In Zapier’s world, everything is connected. Or at least interlinked 

What struck me about Zapier’s SEO is how everything is densely interlinked. 

We’ve got:

  • Links inside the blog posts to other content and product features. 
  • Links inside content hubs.
  • Links from original reports. 
  • Links as breadcrumbs in the app directory. 
  • Links to selected content on the homepage. 
Zapier's homepage footer with dense interlinking
The homepage’s footer, or should I say a carefully woven net of strategic internal links.

And it matters because internal links help pages rank higher. Google utilizes internal links to:

  • Discover new pages.
  • Pass link equity between pages.
  • Understand what a page is about.


Use pages with a lot of backlinks to boost other pages. You can boost your “boring” money pages with link equity from pages with a lot of backlinks. This is called the middleman method. 

But keep in mind these two caveats to using internal links: 

  • Theoretically, the more links you have on the page, the more they will compete with each other for clicks and “dilute” the authority transferred to other pages. So just watch out for “spamming” your pages with internal links. 
  • Too many internal links, especially inside the content of an article, can lead to poorer UX. 

6. Zapier blogs about substituting coffee with hot water???

If Zapier is so good at SEO, why does it create content that gets little-to-no search traffic? Sometimes, those articles don’t even have any kind of search demand. 

And why are they so… unrelated? Examples:

  • Don’t work more when you work from home.
  • ​​How to be a good co-worker to your pets.
  • Why I replaced my morning coffee with a cup of warm water.
  • What a giant pile of laundry taught me about productivity.
  • How a mid-day walk changed my energy levels—at work and at home.

Clearly, these articles haven’t been created for SEO reasons…

One of Zapier's articles ranking for irrelevant keywords

By no means is this an attempt to troll Zapier. I get it. All of the above titles are certainly an interesting read for people concerned about productivity and well-being. 

My point is that while Zapier is great in SEO, it doesn’t make its content marketing only about ranking for keywords with traffic potential.

When you tie only SEO goals to your content marketing, you risk creating an operations-centric approach instead of a customer-centric approach.

A customer-centric approach is when you know certain topics interest your audience, so you pursue them. Even if they have 0 search volume and you won’t rank in a million years. But hey, your audience will still appreciate your effort. 

One condition, though: You need to have a way to communicate with your audience directly, such as a newsletter. 

Zapier's newsletter sign-up form


When you’re great at SEO content, there is a temptation to focus only on SEO content that “converts.” It’s good to know where to draw the line. 

If you’re trying to nurture an audience, develop a relationship with them, make them read every newsletter you send them, and make them trust and recommend your blog, then maybe it’s a good idea to take a step back and think outside of keyword research. 

So if you have an opportunity to publish an interesting article that won’t necessarily bring you organic traffic, it still may be worth it if you can promote it via your direct marketing channels. 

Final thoughts 

I’ve heard a couple of times from different marketers that they don’t pursue SEO because they are in “a new niche with no search demand yet.” I think Zapier’s case shows that if you dig a little deeper, you may hit a motherload of SEO opportunities. But you may need to enter through the “back door.” 

After all, theoretically, there must be some kind of market demand that you’re building your product on. And if there’s market demand, you will likely find search demand. 

Got questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter

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The Beginner’s Guide to Making Your Brand Unmissable

Public relations has always been a critical factor in building a brand, and it is no different in today’s digital society. Times have simply moved from billboards and press comments outside office buildings to creative digital campaigns and quotes in key online publications.

The best part? Digital PR and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly. Digital PR is not only beneficial to your website in its own right, but it can also seriously boost your SEO efforts and is the truest form of “white hat” link building. 

As someone who specializes in using digital PR for SEO, I am going to deep dive into digital PR and its many benefits, as well as give you some of my top tips on where to start and how to get the most success from your efforts.

But first, let’s look at what digital PR is and why it is important.

Digital PR is a promotional tactic used by marketing professionals and PR specialists. When done properly, it utilizes traditional public relations tactics in a digital space—most often to boost the awareness of a brand, company, or business.

The whole point of digital PR is to stay ahead of the curve and make your brand unmissable.

Just like any other form of marketing, digital PR should have its own strategy based on the individual requirements and goals of the brand or business. The strategy combines a number of techniques, such as promoting content, stories, or data, to deliver results that benefit the overall marketing strategy.

Why is digital PR important?

Digital PR has a huge number of benefits in addition to improving brand awareness, including boosting organic traffic, leads, and sales, as well as promoting social engagement.

Digital PR is often thought of as a form of link building. However, it is a beast of its own, and the two should not be confused. Digital PR should be done alongside SEO. Even Google’s own John Mueller said previously that it is often even more important than technical SEO.

Although digital PR is not an SEO tactic, it does complement our efforts as SEOs by improving the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the brand and those behind it, as well as creating high-quality, super-authority backlinks. 

The fact is no matter what paid and organic marketing channels you focus on, digital PR should always be part of your marketing strategy, regardless of the size of your business.

What are the main goals for digital PR?

So if you’re new to digital PR, you’re probably wondering why you should invest your time and money into a digital PR strategy and what the point is exactly? Well, let’s break it down and look at some of the main reasons people want to utilize digital PR tactics for their business:

  • Brand coverage
  • Building awareness
  • Forming long-term relationships with journalists
  • Boosting SEO efforts

Bigger and better brand coverage

Media coverage for brands has always been one of the main goals for public relations, regardless of whether it is in a digital or traditional sense. 

A third-party endorsement for your business, especially from a highly authoritative media outlet, is the best possible advertisement for your company. Your brand and those behind it are presented as experts in the field. This builds instant trust with your audience and potential customers.

Building awareness and shaping brand image

If you’re the new kid on the block and your business is just getting started, create an online presence that lets your target audience know who you are, what you’re about, and your values. This gets your name in front of your target audience in the way you want to be viewed.

Doing so in a way that is newsworthy is best for making a lasting impression.

But it’s not just about making a name for yourself at the beginning of your business. Even established brands look for new and exciting ways to get in front of their ideal audience to maintain brand awareness and stop their competition from getting the edge. 

Forming long-term relationships with journalists

Unlike the days of traditional print media, a digital journalist never always reveals their source. That means mentioning your brand and often quoting the key experts at the forefront of your business. 

Now, pitching journalists regularly (daily in my case) is considered by many to be a long-winded, tedious process. However, this is simply the first step in building relationships with journalists—the value of which should never be underestimated. 

As someone who has been using digital PR to boost the SEO efforts for clients over the years, I have built ongoing relationships with hundreds of journalists. 

To date, I have a personal database of thousands of U.S.- and U.K.-based journalists for all major publications. That means, these days, I can contact journalists directly for campaigns and press releases I am running for my clients.

I also have a large number of journalists who come to me (or my clients) directly for quotes that require topic experts. Whenever they are writing an article relevant to my experience, they will reach out to me to see if I can provide a quote.

Email from a journalist about a feature

Initially, pitching journalists is definitely hard work. But in the long run, you can build ongoing, long-term relationships. It’s definitely worth it when journalists come to you and are continuously publishing your brand on high-authority websites.

Boosting SEO efforts

Although the main goal of public relations is always to build your brand, the secondary benefits digital PR lends to SEO are undeniable. 

We will discuss each of these and why they matter in more detail later, but the most obvious are links, links, and more links. 

But not just any links. Not a random link thrown into a guest post that no one will ever see or care about. I’m talking about links that actually get clicks, drive traffic to a piece of content or asset, encourage engagement and shares, and boost branded search. 

Pages with more backlinks often appear higher in search results. A page’s Google search traffic is strongly and positively correlated with the number of websites that link to it, according to our analysis of 1 billion pages:

Correlation between search traffic and referring domains

Plus, if you want to put the “expert” in expertise, authority, and trust, there’s nothing more effective than being quoted across high-authority websites as a go-to topic specialist.

What are the main benefits of digital PR?

OK, now we know the point of public relations. So let’s talk about what you’ll get out of it:

  • More sales and leads
  • Build authority with links from top-tier publications
  • Build links that competitors can’t replicate to get ahead of the competition
  • Gain trust as an industry expert
  • Earn links that drive referral traffic

More sales and leads

In all my years working with clients as an SEO, I found getting more qualified leads and sales is always on their list of KPIs—no matter what other goals they may have. 

The great thing about digital PR is that it gets your brand in front of the right people at the right time. A well-coordinated campaign can ensure your new product, a seasonal sale, or a special offer is seen by your ideal customers and promote a huge influx of highly relevant, qualified leads.


The key here is relevance. Most people get confused about niche or topic relevance and think of it in the same way as traditional link building. 

Building links for SEO on niche relevant sites can help improve topic relevance so Google has a better understanding of what your website is about. But in digital PR, relevance means getting your business, product, or service in front of a relevant audience. 

For example, if you have a B2B cybersecurity business, you don’t want any old mention on Cybersecurity Weekly. Rather, you want to be featured in content that CEOs and founders are likely to read, such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Entrepreneur.

Build authority with links from top-tier publications

One of the major benefits of digital PR (certainly as an SEO) is building links to highly authoritative websites that you simply can’t achieve with other forms of link building.

Over the years, I have acquired a magnitude of links for clients across sites like Forbes, The New York Times, The Telegraph, BuzzFeed, and so on. 

These links can not only significantly improve the authority of your site within your given niche in the eyes of search engines, but they can also make your brand stand out from the competition. 

If someone searches for your company name, everyone expects the top result to be your website. But not everyone can follow that with positions #2, #3, and #4 as features on sites like those listed above.

Build links that competitors can’t replicate to get ahead of the competition

As mentioned above, the links acquired from digital PR are more difficult to replicate with traditional link building methods. Plus, features are always completely unique.

Sure, your competitors can also do some digital PR. But it is not guaranteed that the same sites will be working on relevant features to acquire links or that they will even be picked up by the journalists.

That means even if a major competitor is continuously checking your backlink profile to attempt to loot your backlinks, it’s not as simple as putting a guest post on the same website. 

Gain trust as an industry expert

Let’s face it. Anyone can tell you how fantastic they are. A well-written About page or a self-promoting YouTube video may gain you some trust as an authority in your industry. But an endorsement from an authoritative publication? Priceless.

Nothing speaks louder to a potential customer than a leading industry authority presenting you as an expert. This builds instant trust between you (seen as a specialist in your field) and people who are directly interested in what you have to offer.

As someone who has worked with niche sites for a long time, I’m often asked to comment on topics like flipping websites—such as this one recently published on affilimate.com:

Expert commentary published on an authority site

If you regularly provide journalists with well-written and actionable quotes, chances are they will add you as a regular source.


Always share any articles your quotes are published in across social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. Journalists have KPIs on engagement and shares, and sources who make the effort on socials tend to get used again.

Earn links that drive referral traffic

With links acquired by traditional link building methods, the goal is to develop trust signals from authoritative, niche-relevant sites that will tell Google your website is an authority in the niche and give search engines a better understanding of your site’s content.

The thing is that those links don’t always tell your audience you are an authority and, often, have no real value to the user.

When you’re promoting yourself and your brand as an authority to your potential customers using digital PR methods, links will be used to direct the user to a highly relevant, engaging resource. 

For example, a story that goes viral about a groundbreaking study your company has conducted may contain a link that directs readers to the results. 

Flowchart showing proactive PR process

These links drive traffic, social shares, and engagement.

Is there any downside to digital PR?

Now, I’m a huge advocate of digital PR and how it can support SEO. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. So let’s take a look at some of the downsides:

  • Highly competitive
  • Ever-changing
  • Results not guaranteed

Highly competitive

Due to the nature of public relations, it is a highly competitive arena. Some of the more popular tactics—such as earned media, where you pitch journalists your thoughts as an industry expert—happen quickly. And there are thousands of other people waiting to jump on the opportunity.

Journalists can post their queries across different platforms in the afternoon and want all submissions by the end of the working day. That means you have to be hot off the blocks (as well as provide something high-quality and unique) to beat the competition. 


In the last six months alone, I have seen enormous changes within the digital PR space, especially as someone who specifically uses PR to boost SEO. 

Tactics that were highly successful before no longer work, and platforms that were once a goldmine of opportunities are over-saturated and offer results few and far between. 

Now, if you’re an SEO, you’re used to being on your toes. I mean, who knows what kind of curveball Google can throw at any time with a surprise algorithm update? 

But for those not used to working in such a fast-paced environment, such as a small-business owner, it can be difficult to stay on top of what the best plan of action is to actually get results.

Results are not guaranteed

Speaking of results, here’s the thing with digital PR: They’re never guaranteed! Mainly due to the two reasons above.

You can pitch 20 journalists and just not hit the nail on the head. Or you come up with a great campaign idea, conduct an in-depth study, and create assets around the results; then, a competitor releases something near-similar the day before publishing (yes, I’ve had that happen).

Also, if you don’t have the best strategy or it simply isn’t well executed, the likelihood is that you won’t get picked up by journalists or you won’t get the response from your target audience.

Five digital PR tactics that work best

So now that we’ve talked about what digital PR is, as well as the pros and cons, let’s take a look at some of my favorite digital PR tactics:

  1. Reactive PR (earned media)
  2. Data-driven proactive campaigns
  3. Press releases
  4. Creative campaigns
  5. Newsjacking

1. Reactive PR (earned media)

Reactive PR (also called earned media) is a method where a journalist will post a query for an article they are writing, requiring subject matter experts to give comments that they can use as an authority source.

Media request via email

This method works incredibly well for businesses of all sizes and helps to build E-A-T and high-authority links. 

Backlink report showing example placements from earned media

There are a few different platforms and methods used for reactive PR, depending on the kinds of sites you want to target (niches, geography, etc.). All you need to do is visit the website and register as a source, and queries will come directly to your inbox. 

Some of these include:

HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a popular platform for earned media. It’s a great option for beginners and mainly focuses on high-quality publications in the U.S. The one issue with HARO is, these days, it is incredibly saturated, so you have to be quick to get featured.

Email from HARO with daily opportunities

Terkel – Terkel is a great alternative to HARO that provides queries for high-authority media outlets in both the U.S. and U.K. Again, it is a great option for beginners looking to do their own PR and, as a newer platform, is continuously expanding with opportunities.

Email from Terkel with open opportunities
Email from Terkel with open opportunities.

SourceBottle – If you’re a new business specifically looking for publications in Australia, SourceBottle is a great platform to get started with.

Email from SourceBottle with open opportunities
Email from SourceBottle with open opportunities.

Paid platforms – The above options are all free and a great starting place for beginners. However, these days, more experienced PR pros will stay away from these platforms when working on accounts for clients. They may opt for paid platforms instead. 

Some examples of paid platforms include Muck Rack, Prowly, JournoLink, and JustReachOut.

Email from JournoLink with new opportunities
Email from JournoLink with new opportunities.


When specifically using this tactic for SEO, don’t waste time pitching queries that are for sites you don’t want links from.

Use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to vet publications before pitching. If you’re hoping for an SEO boost, you can quickly check the Domain Rating (DR) score and traffic of a site.

Plus, always look at its backlink profile to make sure nothing seems untoward. Avoid any site that has a backlink profile full of spam links or appears to be part of a public blog network (PBN).

Overview of CACM via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

The key to success with reactive PR is to write unique and actionable pitches for journalists. Give them something that your competitors won’t have an insight into and make sure it is well written. 

Journalists want to directly copy and paste, so make their job as easy as possible!

Recommended reading: How to Build Backlinks and Get Press Using HARO [Case Study] 

2. Data-driven proactive campaigns

Journalists love data. Fact.

Conducted some groundbreaking research? Got some fun and quirky statistics? Journalists love to feature that stuff. 

The idea with these campaigns is to come up with an idea around something newsworthy that you can gather comprehensive data on and then proactively approach journalists with the story.

I recently created a campaign for a client in the HR industry about lying on your CV for remote positions. We conducted a study in the U.K., and it turns out that over one-third of jobseekers were lying to get remote positions. 

We created an in-depth piece of content detailing the full results on the client’s website, along with a long-form infographic with the key data points. It was then picked up by hundreds of media outlets, including MSN and Yahoo: 

Campaign feature on Yahoo
Campaign feature on Yahoo.

3. Press releases

Just won an award? A new company merged? If you have a newsworthy story, a press release is a great way to get traction, create brand awareness, and amplify your position as an authority in your industry.

Here’s an example of a press release we distributed earlier this year about major keyword updates:

Press release example from Ahrefs

There is a formula for success when it comes to writing press releases, though. To get picked up, they need to be written and formatted correctly. To learn more about how to do it, you can read this great guide from our Rebecca Liew.

4. Creative campaigns

We’ve established that journalists love data, but that doesn’t mean all campaigns have to be data-led to pick up traction. 

Big brands are finding more and more success with creative campaigns that include bold visuals or creative stunts (think the digital version of a flash mob) to capture attention and go viral. 

A fantastic example is Taylor & Hart’s diamond Haribo ring campaign, created by creative PR agency Rise at Seven:

Taylor & Hart’s diamond Haribo ring campaign
Source: Rise at Seven.

This campaign tugged at the nation’s heartstrings, driving 8,500 people to its landing page and picking up almost 40 qualified leads… for a £25,000 ring!

5. Newsjacking

For this tactic to be successful, you have to be hot off the presses. 

Newsjacking is all about monitoring news stories as they break and jumping on them with comments and thought leadership pieces. It is an always-on technique that is used by PR professionals to put brands at the center of a trending topic.

Most people who do newsjacking successfully have teams of people monitoring the news daily for stories to jump on. For a beginner, an easy way to get started is to set up Google Alerts to notify you of specific topics. That way, you can be quick to respond with expert commentary.

Recommended reading: 9 Great Public Relations Tactics With Campaign Examples 

Final thoughts

Digital PR is one of the most effective ways of establishing your brand and those behind it as an authority in your space. Also, it works in tandem with SEO to boost your link building efforts.

Is it time to start using digital PR to make your brand unmissable?

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ping me on Twitter.

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A Simple Guide for Beginners

Despite Shopify handling some basic SEO best practices out of the box, it’s unlikely to be enough to take your store to the top of Google.

You need to optimize for all facets of SEO if that’s your aim. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how to do that to drive more traffic and sales to your store. 

Before we start…

You should take care of a few things before reading this guide:

  • Use responsive design – Google confirmed mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in 2015. The good news is all Shopify themes claim to be responsive on mobile devices. But make sure you run the theme demo through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check.
  • Set up Google Analytics – Monitor the performance of your Shopify store by installing Google Analytics. Read through this documentation to learn how to get started with GA. 
  • Set up Google Search Console – Use this to identify and fix technical SEO issues concerning your Shopify store. Learn how to activate GSC here.

Let’s get down to business.

Technical SEO is critical to e-commerce success. Shopify handles technical SEO reasonably well out of the box. It creates a sitemap and robots.txt file. And page speed is fine. But there are a few considerations worth your attention. Let’s dive into them. 

1. Set your preferred domain 

Once your newly launched Shopify store is live, picking a preferred version of your domain for search engine indexing and ranking is the next step, a practice known as domain canonicalization.

For example, your Shopify store can be accessible at:

  • example.com
  • www.example.com
  • example.myshopify.com

Having your online store available under different URLs creates a duplicate content issue and dilutes “link equity.” Shopify is pretty good at handling this issue out of the box, as it redirects alternatives to the one it thinks is your preferred domain. But it’s not always correct.

To check and change this, go to your Domains settings: 

Domain settings in Shopify

If you prefer to use a version of your domain that Shopify didn’t choose as the primary, click that version and hit “Set as primary”:

Changing primary domain in Shopify

2. Use a logical store structure

Site structure is an essential consideration for e-commerce sites because it helps users and crawlers navigate your site more easily. It also assists the spread of link equity (i.e., ranking strength) throughout your website. 

Here’s my suggested starting point for an e-commerce site structure: 

How to structure Shopify stores

The homepage links to categories, which then link to subcategories, which then link to individual products. 

Shopify doesn’t have category pages. But it has “collections,” which are essentially the same. 

Here’s the official documentation from Shopify on how to create them.

3. Create separate products for product variants (not always)

Product variants, perhaps unsurprisingly, are products available with slight differences. 

For example, if you’re selling a “GUCCI wallet” in several colors, this is when you create product variants. Shopify introduces product variants by appending ?variant=$id at the end of the product URL. 

Here’s what the URL looks like: 



This is known as a parameterized URL. 

By default, product variants are canonicalized to the main product URL to prevent them from indexing. While ideal in most cases, this can result in a lost opportunity if people search for your product variant. 

Case in point:

Search volume for "black gucci wallet"

In these cases, I believe the best option is to create a separate product rather than a product variant and support it with unique content to stand the best chance at ranking.

Editor’s Note

Another option is to index parameterized URLs for product variants with search demand. Unfortunately, this isn’t the easiest thing to do in Shopify. So unless your store is huge, the solution above is arguably the best option. 

Joshua Hardwick

Chapter 2. Keyword research

Like any other e-commerce store, Shopify stores mainly consist of category and product pages. These are the pages that you’ll want to rank on search engines. Here’s how you can do keyword research for them.

1. Find keywords

You can find keywords in various ways, but using a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer is the best starting point. So type in a few broad keywords related to your products and sift through the Matching terms report. 

For example, here are a few potential categories for a guitar store:

Finding keywords for categories in Keywords Explorer

Beyond that, it looks like people primarily search by brand, so those will probably be the best choice for subcategories. 

Finding keywords for subcategories in Keywords Explorer

As for products, keyword research isn’t really a thing unless you sell unbranded products or products from unknown names. That’s because, for branded products, people will search for the products themselves, and your product pages will target those keywords without much effort.

For example, if you sell a PRS McCarty 594 guitar, there’s no way not to target that keyword with your product page.

But if you sell a generic light blue electric guitar, it may be better to target a relevant keyword with search volume like “light blue electric guitar”: 

Search volume for "light blue electric guitar"

However, it depends on search intent. If the top-ranking search results are all category pages, that probably means searchers are looking for a choice. So you may struggle to rank for this term with a product page. 

2. Map keywords to existing URLs

Unless you’re just setting up your store, you can probably target some of the keywords you find with existing pages.

For example, if you already have a category for electric guitars, there’s no need to make a new page to target the keyword “electric guitar.” 

If you want a list of all the indexable pages on your website to help, run a full crawl of your store using our Site Audit in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (it’s free). You can then export a list of indexable URLs from Page Explorer

Indexable pages in Site Audit

It’s then just a case of mapping keywords to existing pages and creating new pages for the rest.

Now that you’ve identified which terms and phrases to target with pages on your store, it’s time to optimize your site for on-page SEO elements.

1. Optimize meta titles and descriptions

Shopify offers an easy way to optimize titles and descriptions. Select one of your product or collection pages, scroll to the “Search engine listing preview,” click “Edit website SEO,” and click to edit meta information:

Adding a title tag and description to a product page in Shopify

Here are some ideas to keep in mind when crafting perfect titles and descriptions:

  • Include the target keyword
  • Add long-tail variations
  • Keep titles between 50 and 60 characters
  • Keep descriptions around 120 characters
  • State your USP (e.g., free shipping, great deals, discounts, inexpensive, etc)

The advice above will not only help you write titles and descriptions that are keyword-optimized, but it’ll also make your snippets compelling.

But let’s be honest: Writing a unique meta title and description for each product is challenging. That’s because most e-commerce stores have hundreds or thousands of pages. So a templated approach is often preferred.

This approach involves creating a template for your titles and meta descriptions and following a similar format across a particular category of products. Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t support this out of the box, so you need to rely on apps like SEO Manager and Smart SEO to do this.

2. Write unique category and product descriptions

Product and category descriptions help users and search engines learn more about the page, so optimizing each page with unique descriptions is useful.

Some stores cut corners and use the same product descriptions across a particular category of products. Don’t make that mistake. Remember, duplicate content is an obstruction to ranking. 

Shopify has a place for collection and product descriptions in the dashboard: 

Adding a product description in Shopify

Here’s some advice on how to write a perfect description:

  • Address visitors’ potential questions within product descriptions
  • Talk about things visitors care about
  • Use simple words
  • Avoid shoehorning your target keyword

Of course, writing unique descriptions for each product and category page takes time, so prioritizing your most important pages makes sense.

Editor’s Note

Product and category descriptions are arguably less important than they used to be. I mean, who actually reads these descriptions on category pages? That said, this is still something worth considering for important pages, as it may help boost their rankings.

Joshua Hardwick

3. Add a schema markup for rich snippet eligibility

Schema markup makes your snippets stand out from the rest of the search results on Google. The benefit is obvious: Eye-catching snippets get more clicks, and that means more traffic. 

Case studies have shown a 30% bump in CTR for pages with schema markup.

Shopify stores can use product schema markup to enable rich product results. These display additional information about your product, such as price, availability, and review ratings.

Here’s an example of a product page with a rich result:

Rich search result

And the page without a rich snippet:

Regular search result

Which page do you think is likely to attract more clicks?

The former. Besides helping you improve CTR (thereby, sales), schema markup also serves to help Google understand your page better.

In Shopify, virtually all themes support schema out of the box. Just fill in all the necessary information to be eligible to appear as a rich result:

Product information that creates structured data automatically

If your theme doesn’t support schema, consider using an app like Smart SEO to enable rich results for your products.

4. Optimize your images

Alt text (alternate text) is the best starting point for image optimization. It helps search engines understand the subject matter of an image and assists users with screen readers. 

To add alt text in Shopify, click an image and hit “Add alt text”: 

Adding alt text

It also pays to use descriptive file names for images. For example, if you have a photo of a guitar on a product page, prs-mccarty-574.jpg is better than IMG785476.jpg.

Lastly, be wary of image file size. Heavy images slow the loading of your pages, which can hurt rankings and user experience. You can use apps like Crush.pics to compress images before uploading them to Shopify.

Chapter 4. Content marketing

Content creation is an integral part of a successful Shopify SEO strategy, and e-commerce stores have some of the best content marketing opportunities. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

1. Blogging for search

Blogging about the questions and topics potential customers are searching for is a smart way to attract more targeted search traffic to your store.

Here’s how to find these topics in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer:

  1. Enter a few broad terms related to your products
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Switch to the “Questions” tab

For example, if you sell musical instruments, you may enter “drumkit,” “drums,” and “guitar”:

Finding question keywords in Keywords Explorer

This returns over 367,000 keyword ideas.

Not all of these will make sense for blog posts. For instance, although “how to tune a guitar” gets an estimated 13K monthly searches in the U.S., there’s not much point in writing about the topic because searchers almost certainly already own a guitar.

Keyword "how to tune a guitar" gets an estimated 13K monthly searches

On the other hand, “how much is a guitar” makes sense despite its lower search volume because searchers are clearly considering buying one.

1.8K monthly searches for "how much is a guitar"

To add the blog posts you write to your Shopify store, hit “Blog posts” in the sidebar and click “Create blog post.” 

Adding a blog post in Shopify

2. Product video reviews

People often watch review and comparison videos to help figure out which product to buy. 

If this is likely to be the case for the products you sell, consider creating these videos and uploading them to YouTube. It should be easy enough if you’re knowledgeable and passionate about your products.

To figure out which product reviews and comparisons people are searching for, use Keywords Explorer:

  1. Enter a few brands you sell
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Add the words “review” and “vs” to the Include filter and select “Any word”

For example, there are an estimated 500 monthly searches in the U.S. for “prs custom 24 se review”: 

Finding review and "vs" keywords in Keywords Explorer

If we search for this in Google, we see a “Videos” SERP feature at the top of the results: 

Video SERP feature for "prs custom 24 se review"

These results tell us that searchers mainly want videos, not blog posts.

It’s a similar story for “prs s2 vs se,” which gets an estimated 250 monthly searches in the U.S. and also has a “Videos” feature on the SERP:

Search volume for "prs s2 vs se"
Video SERP feature for "prs s2 vs se"

Link building to Shopify stores is challenging, especially if you want to build links directly to your product or category pages. For this reason, it’s often easier to build links to other pages. You can then use internal links to distribute “link equity” to relevant product and category pages. 

Let’s go over a few link building tactics you can use. 

1. Find sites linking to your competitors

Replicating your competitors’ common homepage links is arguably the best starting point when building links to your Shopify store. You can find these using the Link Intersect report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Here’s the process: 

  1. Plug your domain into Site Explorer
  2. Go to Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool and enter a few competing sites
  3. Change the search mode on all URLs to “URL” and hit “Show link opportunities” 
Link Intersect tool in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You should then see websites linking to one or more competitors but not you:

Results from Link Intersect tool

Not all of these will be good opportunities. It’s a case of sifting through the list for ones that may be replicable. 

For example, OldTimeMusic links to a couple of competing guitar stores: 

OldTimeMusic links to two competitors

If we hit the caret and investigate the linking pages further, we see that the links to both sites come from a list of the best places to buy guitars:

Referring page to the competitor, Reverb
Referring page to the competitor, Guitar Center

This is definitely somewhere we could pitch for inclusion if we had a guitar store.

Here’s another site linking to a couple of competitors:

MusicRadar links to two competitors

If we investigate further, we see that one of the links is from a list of online guitar-selling tips by Dan Orkin from Reverb.com: 

Excerpt from Reverb's guest post on MusicRadar

Given that Dan got a guest post published on this site, perhaps we could too? 

2. Write guest posts

Speaking of guest posting, this is something that pretty much every store owner can do. 

Here’s a quick and easy way to find guest post opportunities:

  1. Enter a broad query that defines your niche into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Switch the search mode to “In title”
  3. Filter for pages published in the last 90 days (so you know they’re still active) 
  4. Filter for English pages
  5. Filter for pages on DR 30–70 sites (this excludes low-quality websites)
  6. Filter for pages with at least 1,000 words (this will eliminate e-commerce pages from the search results)
  7. Check “one page per domain” box
  8. Go to the “Websites” tab

You should now see the top websites that have published content about your topic:

Finding guest post opportunities in Content Explorer

Eyeball the list for relevant websites with plenty of traffic and multiple authors. These are likely to be receptive to a guest post pitch. 

3. Create “linkable assets”

A linkable asset is a piece of content purposefully created to attract links to your site. Examples include research studies, free tools, calculators, interactive widgets, etc.

Let’s say you want to find research-type post ideas for a hypothetical Shopify store selling musical instruments. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Content Explorer
  2. Search for keyword AND (data OR study OR research)
  3. Set the scope of the search to “In title”
  4. Filter for pages with 50+ referring domains
  5. Filter for pages published over two years ago
Finding studies with backlinks in Content Explorer

Look for results where it may make sense to publish an updated study.

For example, here’s a study from 2018 with 112 referring domains about how half of all new guitar players are women:

Example of a study with backlinks in Content Explorer

This is relatively easy to replicate if you have a mailing list of customers. You can just run a survey asking how many started playing guitar in the last few years, as well as their gender. 

Once you have an up-to-date study, reach out to everyone linking to the old research and see if they want to cover it or replace the old link.

Final thoughts

Shopify stores have some SEO built in. The platform takes care of page speed and regularly updates your sitemap automatically. It also allows you to adjust your store elements for SEO best practices.

But using Shopify won’t guarantee high rankings in search results. Shopify is just a tool. You still need to do keyword research, produce quality content, and build high-quality backlinks to see your store prosper in organic search.

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How to Create Relevant Content That Ranks

Google aims to rank the most relevant results for searchers. So if your content isn’t relevant, it won’t rank.

But relevance isn’t just about including your keyword a bunch of times. In fact, it isn’t about that at all.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to create relevant content that Google wants to rank.

How does Google determine the relevance of content?

It does this in a variety of ways. 

1. Does your page mention the search query?

According to Google, the most basic relevance signal is whether your content contains the same keywords as the search query. 

Passage from Google's How Search Works page, explaining how Google analyzes whether a piece of content is relevant

2. Does it mention related things?

Relevance goes beyond simple keyword matching. Google also checks to see if the page contains other relevant keywords. 

For example, if a page is about Apple, then the page will also, inevitably, include relevant things like iPhone, iPad, App Store, iOS, MacBook, and so on.

Passage from Google's How Search Works page, explaining how Google analyzes whether a piece of content is relevant

Recommended reading: Google’s Knowledge Graph Explained: How It Influences SEO 

3. Do searchers seem to find it useful?

On the same page, Google also mentions this:

Passage from Google's How Search Works page, explaining how Google analyzes whether a piece of content is relevant

This is partly why the top-ranking results for “apple” are about the technology company and not the fruit. Google knows from interaction data that most searchers are looking for the maker of the iPhone.

Google SERP for the query, "apple"

In the same vein, this is one reason why freshness can be important. For queries that are dependent on freshness—for example, football transfers, election results, etc.—searchers want to see the latest news. And Google prioritizes those results over the rest. 

Google SERP for the query, "transfer news"


Relevance here does not apply to local queries. While relevance is still important for local SEO (alongside distance and prominence), it means something else entirely. 

According to Google, relevance (in terms of local rankings) refers to how well a local business profile matches what someone is searching for.

How to create relevant content

Relevance is specific to each query. So before you can create “relevant” content, you need to make sure you have keywords you want to target.

If you have not done this step, do it now. You can follow the process in this video to find keywords you want to rank for.


Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs 

1. Figure out search intent

We’ve established earlier that a key aspect of relevance is whether searchers find the search results useful. That means Google is constantly figuring out why searchers are looking for that query, i.e., search intent. Google then serves results it thinks fulfills that intent.

This means if you want to rank high on Google, you need to find out what the search intent for your target keyword is. And since Google works to show the most relevant results, we can actually look at the top-ranking pages to figure out the three Cs of search intent:

  • Content type – Is there a dominant type of content on the SERP, such as blog posts, product pages, videos, or landing pages?
  • Content format – Is there a dominant content format on the SERP, such as guides, listicles, news articles, opinion pieces, or reviews?
  • Content angle – Is there a dominant angle on the SERP, such as freshly updated content or content aimed at beginners?

For example, let’s say we want to rank for “best frying pans.” Let’s analyze the three Cs for this keyword:

SERP overview for "best frying pans," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer
  • Content type – They’re mostly blog posts.
  • Content format – They’re all listicles.
  • Content angle – The main angle is 2022, which means freshness is an important angle. 

To rank for this keyword, you’ll likely have to create a “best frying pan” list post updated to the current year.

Recommended reading: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners 

2. Cover everything the searcher wants to know

To deserve a place on the first page of Google, you’ll need to cover all the things searchers expect and want to know.

How do you do this?

Again, we’ll turn to relevant top-ranking pages to find out what we should be covering.

Look for common subheadings

Subheadings offer quick insights into what searchers are looking for, especially if there are the same or similar ones across the top-ranking pages.

For example, if we look at the top-ranking pages for “guest blogging,” it’s likely we’ll have to talk about subtopics like these:

  • What guest blogging is
  • Benefits of guest blogging
  • How to find guest blogging opportunities

And more.

Content report showing headings of an article, via Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

A quick way to view all the subheadings in a post is to install Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar and use the free content report (what I did above).

Look for subtopics among keyword rankings

A page can rank for hundreds of different keywords. Most of them will be different ways of searching for the same topic, whereas some will be important subtopics you’ll want to cover. 

Here’s how to find these subtopics:

  1. Paste a few top-ranking URLs for your main topic into Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool
  2. Leave the bottom section blank
  3. Hit Show keywords
  4. Set the Intersection filter to 3 and 4 targets
Common keywords a few articles are ranking for, via Ahrefs' Content Gap tool

We can see the pages also rank for subtopics like these:

  • What are guest posts
  • What is guest posting
  • Why guest blogging
  • Guest blog opportunities
  • Guest post for SEO
  • Guest blogging strategy

And more. 

Look at People Also Ask boxes

In recent years, Google has introduced the People Also Ask (PAA) box for most queries:

People Also Ask box for the query, "guest blogging"

These questions offer insights into other things searchers may want to know. You can use a tool like AlsoAsked to pull all the PAA questions related to the topic you’re targeting:

Results from the tool, AlsoAsked.com

Look at the top-ranking pages manually

Finally, there’s no better substitute than simply going through each page manually to see if you’ve missed out on anything.

Once you’re done with your research, get cracking and create your content. 

Other ways to demonstrate content relevance

Besides creating content, there are a few more ways to demonstrate to Google that your content is relevant. 

Here’s how:

1. Get your basic on-page SEO down pat

You’ve done the hard part—creating a thorough, relevant piece of content that Google and searchers want to see. Now, it’s time to put the “icing” on the cake and make it doubly clear to Google and searchers your page is relevant. 

You’ll do this by optimizing the “technical” stuff, i.e., the page’s on-page SEO. Here are the basics you need to do:

  1. Include your keyword in the title – Google confirmed the importance of headings in 2020. If it’s not possible, don’t try to squeeze in the keyword. Use a close variation instead.
  2. Use short, descriptive URLs – Compared to URLs like ahrefs.com/blog/36778, the URL ahrefs.com/blog/seo-copywriting helps searchers to understand what a page is about before clicking. 
  3. Write a compelling meta description – While not a ranking factor, Google does bold words and phrases closely related to the query. It also helps further entice searchers to click on your results. 
  4. Optimize your images – Filenames and alt text help Google understand images better. So make sure you name your images appropriately and write alt text that’s descriptive.
  5. Link to relevant internal and external resources – Linking to relevant internal and external resources helps visitors navigate your website and find more information.

Recommended reading: On-Page SEO: The Beginner’s Guide 

2. Consider building content hubs

Content hubs (also known as topic clusters) are interlinked collections of content about a similar topic. They consist of three parts:

  1. Pillar page – A high-level guide about a broad topic.
  2. Subpages – In-depth guides about parts of the main topic.
  3. Internal links – They connect the pillar page and its subpages in both directions.
Illustration of how a content hub looks like

Google looks at links and their anchor text to understand a page’s content and, therefore, relevance. 

Illustration of how relevant pages cast stronger votes on a page

For example, if a site about coffee links to your page about coffee, it “affirms” to Google that your page is about coffee. Makes sense, right? 

It works the same way for internal links too. 

So by connecting your pages using relevant internal links in a content hub, it helps to build semantic relationships between your content. 

Furthermore, because of the perceived value of a hub—as people usually prefer to link to the best, most useful resource on a topic—content hubs tend to attract a lot of backlinks. Not only does this improve relevance, but it can also help to boost rankings (links are an important Google ranking factor!).

I recommend following the guide below to learn more about how to create a content hub.

Recommended reading: Content Hubs for SEO: How to Get More Traffic and Links With Topic Clusters 

3. Build links

If links help to establish relevance, then the logical next step is to build more of them. 

Link building is a whole topic on its own, so I recommend watching this video to get started:


We have tons of resources about link building on our blog too, so you should check them out:

Learn more

Want more resources on how to create great, relevant content that ranks? Check these out:

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.

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How to Create SEO SOPs to Scale Organic Traffic

Standard operating procedures make your work faster, easier, and more scalable. This is particularly true in the case of SEO, where a lot of the tasks are simple and repeatable.

Things like adding meta tags, maintaining a proper URL structure, adding internal links, and optimizing your images are all easy to do… but also easy to forget.

Recording SEO tasks in SOP documents means they will never be forgotten—and, once documented, you can easily delegate these simple tasks to others in your team.

If you want to grow your organic traffic while working less, you want SEO SOPs. 

Let’s dive into it.

What is a standard operating procedure?

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document that outlines how a task is done step by step. It often includes screenshots to visually show what you’re explaining, but the best SOPs include videos as well.

I typically make my SOPs in a Google Doc with screenshots. Then I use Loom to record my screen and create video explanations.

Why should you use SOPs for SEO?

SEO SOPs allow you to:

  • Never forget important SEO steps when publishing content.
  • Hire an affordable assistant to have simple tasks taken off your plate.
  • Scale your business in ways that aren’t possible without standardization.

McDonald’s was one of the first businesses to master standardization. And its burger line was much more complex than simply creating a document. You, too, can harness the power of a standardized process to increase output and efficiency.

Five SEO SOPs you should have

There are a lot of processes in business that can benefit from SOPs. However, the five most critical SEO tasks that should have SOPs include:

  1. Content creation and on-page SEO.
  2. Internal linking procedures.
  3. Image optimization.
  4. Email outreach for link building.
  5. Tracking your rankings and making updates.

Below, I break down each one and give you example templates you can copy and mold to fit your business.

1. Content creation and on-page SEO

Content is the backbone of any good SEO strategy. However, creating great content takes time and effort. If you want to cut down on how long it takes, an SOP will do that.

At Ahrefs, our SOP for content includes these eight steps:

  1. Create a home for the post in the shared drive
  2. Fill in/update the Notion card
  3. Assign the header illustration
  4. Write the content outline
  5. Write the draft
  6. Edit the draft
  7. Assign custom images and screenshot annotations
  8. Prepare for editing + upload

Of course, these eight steps are specific to our systems and styles. We use Google Drive and Notion to keep track of everything, have a header illustration for each article, and have a rigorous editing process to ensure high-quality content.

Here’s what that document looks like:

Ahrefs' standard operating procedure for content creation

As you can see, it is a well-documented and easy-to-follow process with examples and links.

Within this document, we also link to our writing guidelines SOP with even more detailed information on our actual writing process.

This includes our style and writing guidelines with actual examples…

Ahrefs' style guidelines

… as well as screenshots to show, not just tell.

Using screenshots in SOPs

And lastly, we have SOPs in place to cover on-page SEO, which includes how to properly name images, add image alt text, and set the metadata for each page.

Ahrefs' image optimization SOP

By creating these simple documents, you can make content creation much easier and quicker.

2.  Internal linking procedures

Internal linking is crucial for ranking highly on Google. Every single page on your site, aside from perhaps landing pages, should have internal links. This is especially true for blog content.

Your SOP can look something like this:

  1. You should aim to include a relevant internal link anytime it can benefit the reader.
  2. Internal link anchor text should be relevant to the content you’re writing about and the content you’re linking to. For example, DO link to “RV accessories” from “RV water pump buyers guide.” DO NOT link to “van life builds” from “how to keep your RV cool in the summer.” Keep it related.
  3. Use Ahrefs’ Internal Link Opportunities tool in Site Audit to do the work. Alternatively, you can find internal links by performing a Google search for
    site:[yoursitehere.com] “related keyword” to see all the content that contains that related keyword or phrase.
Finding internal link opportunities for a specific target page in Ahrefs' Site Audit

3.  Image optimization

Optimizing your images for Google (and for users) is often overlooked. However, it’s easy to do and also important if you want to reach that coveted first page.

There are three steps to ensuring good image optimization:

  1. Having a proper title that describes the image (without keyword stuffing)
  2. Adding alt text that describes the image in a bit more detail for those who can’t download and view the image
  3. Using the proper file format and reducing the overall data size of the image for faster load speeds

Follow our guide to image SEO for more information.

4. Email outreach for link building

Link building is key to a good SEO strategy—links are one of the most important Google ranking factors.

While building backlinks isn’t exactly easy, it does involve a lot of repeatable steps. This makes it a perfect SOP task. In fact, you’ll probably want multiple SOPs—one for each link building strategy, including:

Each of these procedures is different. So either turn your current process into a document or follow one of the linked guides above and create a document for it.

5. Tracking your rankings and making updates

Finally, we have something almost all SEOs love: watching your rankings go up (hopefully).

While it’s easy enough to spontaneously check your Ahrefs account or Google Search Console account to see whether or not your rankings are moving from your efforts, there’s a better way.

It still involves checking your Ahrefs account. But instead of doing it with random excitement like a kid in a candy store, you use a methodical approach that tracks your changes and their effects. After all, a lot of SEO is trial and error.

First, if you haven’t already, sign up for Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker. Our reports will show you your ranking changes over time with visualized data through charts and competitor reports.

Ahrefs' Rank Tracker overview

You can track specific keywords and pages over time as well:

Ahrefs' individual keyword tracking

Once you have your account, you can make an SOP to check these on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Keep track of any changes you make to your pages, such as metadata, adding or changing content, improving your internal links, etc. Then document how these changes impact your rankings over time.

By making a habit of performing SEO tests like these and tracking the effects, you can see what works and what doesn’t—then scale up what works and stop wasting time on what doesn’t.

Final thoughts

By documenting your SEO processes in the form of SOPs, you can more easily scale up your business and hire others to perform the easier tasks.

If you want your business (and your organic traffic) to grow, having SOPs is one of the surest ways to do it. Learn what works, document the process, and scale it up. These five SEO tasks are just the beginning—you can have an SOP for every repeatable task in your business.

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Improve Your Pitch to Close More Sales

SEO is one of the most popular types of digital marketing services. But it can be challenging to sell because there are many types of SEO services and service providers offering them.

That’s why we created this guide.

Learn the basics and then follow our five steps to help you craft and improve your pitch to close more sales and get more clients.

But before we do that, let’s discuss why people buy SEO services and what they’re looking for.

Why do people buy SEO services?

There are three main reasons why people buy an SEO service:

  1. They want an outcome or result.
  2. They need to fix a problem.
  3. Their business is growing (and they lack time, resources, and skills).

I’ll explain each with a few examples.

Outcomes and results

While organic search traffic is still the dominant traffic channel, many business owners don’t care about SEO (search engine optimization). They want profitable customers or sales.

Organic search traffic is the dominant traffic channel

When I worked in telecom marketing, the managing director wanted 2,000 new customers a month using the allocated £50,000 budget—regardless of the marketing channel.

Fix a problem

Your website can suffer from bad user experience due to slow loading times, and you need a technical SEO expert to help you prioritize and fix the issues.

Page speed performance


When a company plans for growth, this usually means scaling up its internal team or hiring an external SEO agency because it lacks the time, resources, and skills to grow its business through organic traffic.

For example, you can enter the following into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and filter by the last 90 days to identify growing companies you can try and sell SEO services to:

accountant AND ("raise" OR "launch" OR "open" OR "relocate" OR "acquire" OR "expand" OR "expansion" OR "new" OR "director of" OR "appointed" OR "change of" OR "hired" OR "recruited" OR "appointment")

Change the bolded word in this search query to a job title or industry, e.g., accountant, gaming, restaurant, marketing, property, etc.

Use Ahrefs' Content Explorer to identify SEO opportunities

What SEO services are prospects looking for?

The sales process begins by defining the services you will offer to potential clients.

In our guide to generating SEO leads, we mentioned that there are three types of SEO services that a prospective client is looking for.

  1. Full SEO service – For example, they want you to manage the entire process of keyword research, content creation, publishing, link building, reporting, and measurement for them.
  2. Industry-focused – For example, SEO for lawyers, SEO for SaaS companies, etc.
  3. Specialist service – For example, HARO link building, domain migration, etc.

Let’s now look at how to improve your pitch so you can get more SEO clients.

Step 1. Show results to establish credibility

To be taken seriously by prospects and get a foot in their door, you need to make them aware of the results of your SEO efforts in your emails, landing page content, forum posts, and personal conversations.

If you don’t already have proof or results, start creating them.

Show traffic or links earned with screenshots

For example, from Ahrefs, I downloaded the following image of the organic traffic of a company I did SEO and content marketing for and added it to my website:

Line graph showing spike in organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

If you worked on an effective link building campaign, enter its URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, take a screenshot of the referring domains, add it to your website’s testimonials page, and describe the objectives, process, and results of the campaign.

Line graph showing sharp increase in referring domains, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Show before and after results

Here’s an example showing how Will improved his site speed by 718% and ended up with more than two times the traffic.

In addition to outlining his process, Will shared a screenshot comparing December’s higher traffic with October’s traffic:

Line graph showing increased search traffic

Get client testimonials

Even better, if your customers give positive reviews about the results they got from your SEO work, you have established credibility in the eyes of potential customers.

The next step is to find and qualify potential customers.

Client testimonial

Step 2. Find and qualify prospects

You can find prospects using inbound marketing, e.g., your website, SEO, PPC, Facebook groups, communities, referrals, email marketing, and outbound techniques such as email and telephone outreach.

Then you qualify prospects using the right questions regardless of your marketing channel.

You can use a qualification sequence like the one below when pitching prospects.

  Their Goal  
More clients ↓ More customer sales ↓ Improve site ↓
Q2. How many clients? ↓ Q2. How many customer sales? ↓ Q2. What improvements? ↓
Q3. Revenue per client ↓ Q3. Average order value ↓
Q4. Keywords target audience search ↓ Q4. Keywords target audience search ↓
Q5. What’s your budget? ↓ Q5. What’s your budget? ↓ What’s your budget? ↓
Q6. Name, email, URL, and phone Q6. Name, email, URL, and phone Name, email, URL, and phone

Example 1. Inbound

In all, 60% of marketers say inbound marketing practices, such as SEO, are their highest quality source of leads.

60% of marketers say inbound marketing practices, such as SEO, are their highest quality source of leads

I’ve used this sequence to qualify new website visitors to my website:

Sequence showing how to qualify website visitors

First, I ask them if they’re looking for clients, sales, or website improvements:

Question with three options asking visitor about their goal

Then I ask a couple of questions related to the first question.

Then I ask if they have any budget:

Question with four options asking visitor about their budget

Then I offer a scheduled call:

CTA inviting visitor to schedule a call; below, a sign-up form

If they don’t have a budget, I invite them to subscribe to my newsletter, where I can pitch them services later:

CTA inviting website visitors to opt in to a newsletter; below, a sign-up form

For example, Fiona told me she’s looking for four new clients who spend around £1,000 but indicated she doesn’t have any budget:

ConvertKit custom fields

If they have some budget, I ask for their name, email, and URL, inviting them to a discovery meeting:

CTA inviting visitor to schedule a call; below, a sign-up form

Your email list

You can email your subscribers asking the first question and a similar sequence to qualify prospects:

ConvertKit email

In this example, Cecilia clicked the “More clients” option and indicated she’s looking for 11–20 more clients:

Example of ConvertKit subscriber

Then she scheduled a call by completing the form you saw earlier.

Example 2. Outbound

In this outbound example, I phoned Richard, a director in an insolvency practice company for whom I’d previously built a website.

In previous conversations, he told me that he gets paying customers from other marketing channels and how much he pays for a qualified lead and customer.

He is a qualified lead, as he told me he has a budget and needs more customers. Now it’s time to pitch to him.

Step 3. Pitch outcomes in discovery sessions

If you’ve qualified a prospect before a discovery call, you’ve already got the information you need to propose an outcome for them.

(Otherwise, the call is going to use the questions in step #2.)

How to pitch their outcome (more clients)

With Richard’s permission, I’ve done my best to recreate our telephone conversation to give you an idea of how this can go.

Me (text): Can I bounce something off on the phone?

Richard (text): Call me.

Me: Hi, Richard. So we’ve talked about how much you spend to get new customers. Ideally, how many new customers are you looking for each month?

Richard: 20.

Me: So you have a very high customer conversion rate from these other channels. But let’s say your website can generate qualified leads, and your team can convert 20% of those leads into customers.

That means you’ll need about 100 qualified leads from the website a month.

Richard: Correct.

Me: Let’s say the website can convert 10% of its traffic into qualified leads, meaning it needs 1,000 visits a month.

Richard: Yes.

Me: So I checked out Google Ads for target keywords like “debt management plans” and “business insolvency,” and your customers’ search. And the cost per click was £16 a click.

So you’d need to spend £16,000 a month with Google Ads to get your 1,000 website visits— based on the above calculations.

Richard: I’m not spending £16,000 a month (laughs).

Me: So let’s look at an alternative solution. I was looking at the website traffic of two of your competitors that generate qualified leads from their websites.

One gets 5,700 visits a month; the other 7,200 visits a month from the organic results, not the paid results.

So you’re a finance guy. You know it takes ongoing investment before you see a return, right?

Richard: Right.

Me: So to get that kind of traffic, I’d need to identify the right things people search for. I’d need to pay someone else with expertise in your industry to write the right content for those things. And I’d need to invest in earning links from authoritative websites.

Richard: And we only want people looking for company liquidation, not personal liquidations solutions.

Me: Exactly. So what would you invest each month instead of spending £16,000 with Google Ads to get the 1,000 visits?

Richard: Well, quickly off the top of my head, probably about £2,000–£3,000 a month.

Me: How did you come to that number?

Richard: I’m the finance director. We can afford to invest £24,000–£36,000 in a year where we don’t need to see short-term results.

A quick explanation

  • 20 clients
  • Divided by 20% conversion
  • Equals 100 leads
  • Divided 10% traffic conversion
  • Equals 1,000 visits
  • Keyword CPC equals £16
  • £16,000 Google Ad spend to get 1,000 visits

To calculate the CPC of the keywords your customer would target, go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, enter their target keywords, and look at the CPC column.

CPC of keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Ending the discovery call

When the call naturally ends, you can finish the conversation with, “So where do you think we should go from here?”

There are only three outcomes of asking this question:

  • They’re not interested.
  • They want to see the scenario you explained to discuss with others.
  • They want to schedule a follow-up meeting with others in their team.

So I wrapped up the call with Richard and said I’d draft up the scenario we discussed.

Step 4. Follow up with a one-page proposal

Fortunately, I’m working with the person who makes the final decisions and the one who approves payment.

So the next day, I emailed Richard this one-page proposal summarizing the objective, campaign, pricing options, and competitor traffic analysis. You can create a copy of it here.

One-page SEO proposal

Then I met up in person with Richard. After some small talk, I asked if he’d read the proposal.

He asked me to explain if the competitors’ growth was achievable, which led the conversation to link building.

I explained how he could ask for links from some of his industry contacts and accreditation websites, but the rest of the links would need to be earned.

Then I explained the keyword research and content processes (choosing which topics to write about) and the differences between pricing option A and option B.

Richard ended the conversation by stating that he was bought into the idea. But as one director needed to review, edit, and approve all content writing, he needed buy-in from all members of his team.

Your prospect may loop someone else like a sales, marketing, or web manager into the project to join a follow-up sales meeting and discuss the following:

  • Discuss how this SEO project will work
  • Plan the project duration, estimate costs, how to get started, and how you will report and measure results
  • References from other clients

Using our SEO contract template proposal, complete the details of the highlighted areas:

SEO proposal template

This contract includes:

  • Responsibilities, who does what, and more.
  • Scope of work.
  • Duration of work.
  • Payment terms.

In addition, you may also be asked to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) by the client before they share company information with you and your team.

Final thoughts

Here’s a quick recap. We covered how to approach selling SEO services by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Present the client’s desired outcome rather than your services
  2. Use psychology to pitch a higher anchor price against your price
  3. Provide a verbal price or one-page proposal before sending a contract 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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21 Writing Tips to Become a Better Writer Fast

Whether you want to land your dream job, score a promotion, persuade a new client, or grow your blog on Google or social media, writing is one of the most powerful skills you can learn.

I have personally written thousands of articles over the years, covering everything from writing itself to digital marketing, travel, insurance, and more. My work has been featured on some of the world’s top marketing blogs, including Shopify, Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, and many others. I’ve built my entire career on the written word.

I don’t say this to gloat—just to show you that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to writing. And I’m about to share what I know.

In this article, we’ll go through 21 tips to become a better writer. But first, let’s discuss what “good writing” really is.

What makes good writing?

Writing is part art, part science. There are no perfect words or perfect sentences, but there is a clear difference between good writing and bad writing. 

Good non-fiction writing:

  • Is easy to understand.
  • Is well-formatted.
  • Has proper grammar and spelling.
  • Gets to the point.
  • Holds your attention.

Good writing really comes from good editing. It’s rare that a first draft comes out polished and ready to publish.

But great writing has some extra spice to it. It intrigues and motivates. It moves the reader to want to do something. It gets you thinking.

Being a good writer is easy. Being a great writer takes time and dedication. Either way, becoming a better writer starts by following some basic tips and practicing often.

21 writing tips to help you write better, faster

In my decade of writing professionally (and many more years before that writing for fun), I’ve learned a lot about how to be a better writer. And I’ve boiled down my best advice into the following 21 tips.

1. Start with your end goal in mind

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you should always know what your goal is. 

Why are you writing this article/email/book? What do you want the reader to take away from your writing?

For example, my goal for this article is to help you, the reader, become a better writer. That (hopefully) means you will follow some of these tips and implement them the next time you write.

2. Make an outline

Once you have a rough idea of your goal, it’s time to organize your thoughts with an outline.

A content outline will help you structure your writing logically and let it flow more naturally. It’s also helpful to get the bulk of your research out of the way before you start writing. This is so you don’t get distracted going back and forth between writing and research.

Plus, if you’re writing blog content, having an outline makes it easier to optimize your content for search engines from the get-go rather than optimization being an afterthought. 

3. Focus, focus, focus

After you start writing, it’s important to give it your full attention. This may sound simple, but avoid distractions like kids running around or checking your phone or email. 

I personally like to turn my phone on “silent” and mute my notifications, put on noise-canceling headphones, and listen to instrumental Lo-fi music. You can experiment to see if your brain does better with complete silence or light instrumental music. Heck, sometimes I even write while listening to bass-heavy EDM. 

Regardless, limit distractions as much as possible and allow yourself to focus on your writing.

4. Ditch the fancy words

Effervescent writing with decorative wording doesn’t serve to create an erudite discussion but rather sounds bloviating and obfuscates the actual meaning of your communication…

… or rather, fancy words only confuse people.

While using these words may make your writing look interesting, it detracts from the goal of being clear and concise. It makes it more difficult for the reader to understand your message.

Instead, try to use the simplest and easiest-to-understand words you can while still explaining what you’re trying to say.

5. Use shorter sentences but vary the lengths

Similar to using smaller words, you should also aim to shorten your sentences. 

Imagine if I wrote something that your brain had to continue to read, with multiple commas, multiple ideas, and varying concepts, all in one huge run-on sentence, that just didn’t seem to end, no matter how badly you wanted it to, not giving you any time to take a breath or digest the ideas you’re learning, and it just keeps dragging on…

Makes things hard to follow, right?

Instead, keep each sentence under 16–25 words unless absolutely necessary, and only share one or two ideas per sentence.

That said, you shouldn’t just use small sentences. If you do, it can get boring. Similar-sized sentences don’t entice. See what I’m doing here? All these sentences are of near-similar lengths. 

Compare that to this paragraph, where wording and length are varied. Share something quickly. Then reinforce it with a longer sentence that digs deeper, keeping the brain engaged. Maybe throw in a medium-length sentence as well.

Don’t stress too much about sentence length, but keep it in the back of your mind. It helps to give your writing some rhythm and make it sound more interesting.

6. Write in a conversational tone

Too often I see new writers trying to write in a way that sounds “professional.” Rather than writing in their natural voice and style, they try to sound too buttoned up.

This comes off as boring.

Instead, write like how you talk—within reason, of course. Don’t write a research paper like this. But if you’re writing a casual email or blog post, your writing should sound natural and flow as if you’re talking directly to the reader rather than giving a lecture to them.

7. Write every day

Remember how I said there’s a difference between good writers and great writers? Good writers learn a few tips and write once in a while. Great writers put in the time to practice.

This doesn’t necessarily mean writing an article every day. All forms of writing count, whether that’s crafting an email, writing a blog post, or scribbling in a journal. Have fun with it.

8. Master transitions

As any good copywriter will tell you, the purpose of a paragraph isn’t to convey an idea or make a point. Rather, it’s to get someone to read the next paragraph. 

Knowing how to transition from one idea or paragraph to the next is one of the biggest secrets to keep readers glued to the page. And that’s done with transitions.

The best way to get good at transitions is by reading your work out loud to spot abrupt changes or awkward spots, then editing to smooth these spots out. I talk more about that in the next tip.

9. Read your writing out loud to edit it

Remember: Good writing comes from good editing.

One of the biggest improvements I ever made to my writing came from reading my writing out loud while editing. By reading out loud, it becomes glaringly obvious where your writing sounds awkward, doesn’t transition well, or straight up doesn’t sound good.

If you use only a single tip from this article, use this one.

10. Start a journal or diary

Physically writing in a journal has been shown to have many health benefits, such as reducing anxiety and stress, helping you organize your thoughts, and even coping with depression.

But it also makes you a better writer.

Something about putting an actual pen to paper is magical. Doing this let me experience my second-biggest writing improvement (after the “reading work out loud” tip).

11. Use active voice

Your writing will be made better after reading this. You will write better after reading this.

Which of those two sentences sounds better? The latter is written in active voice, while the former is written in passive voice.

Active voice always packs more of a punch in a smaller package. It’s more interesting to read because it talks about a present action rather than some future possibility.

Check out Grammarly’s guide to active vs. passive writing to learn more.

12. Utilize first drafts

Good writing comes from good editing. You can’t edit without a first draft.

Don’t expect to write something up, never read it over, and have it published and sound amazing. It just doesn’t work like that 99% of the time.

Instead, write your thoughts in a first draft, then edit, edit, and edit some more.

13. Ditch adverbs

Adverbs are great when you really need to emphasize a point. See what I did there?

Using too many adverbs too often is just not necessary and really only distracts from the very point you’re really trying to make. 

Or: Using adverbs too often is not necessary and distracts from the point you’re trying to make.

Instead of saying “really,” or “very,” or whatever other adverb, try using the word without the adverb. Just delete the adverb and read the sentence out loud. And 9 times out of 10, you’ll find the adverb isn’t necessary and removing it makes your writing punchier.

14. Master punctuation

Commas, dashes, colons, and the like are all fantastic tools. But you need to know how to use the tools. Otherwise, they detract from—rather than enhance—your writing.

I often see new writers over-using long dashes and commas. You’d be surprised at how often you can just delete commas and still be grammatically correct.

Here’s a handy guide to help you get better with punctuation.

15. Ruthlessly cut fluff

If removing a word from a sentence—or a sentence from a paragraph—doesn’t take away from the point you’re trying to make, it’s probably fluff.

Too often we throw extra words or sentences into our writing to beef up the word count or sound more sophisticated. Don’t do that.

In my opinion, great non-fiction writing is about saying the most while using the fewest words. Again, it comes back to editing. Edit out the fluff like your life depends on it.

16. Have someone else read your draft

Having a fresh set of eyes on your work can help give you a perspective you couldn’t get when your head was down. Even if it’s just a friend or colleague who isn’t a great writer, have them read it and give you feedback.

You’ll either get a nice dopamine hit from the praise or some ideas on what sucks. Either way, it’s a win-win. 

17. Know your audience

Feedback from your peers is important, but what really matters is your final audience.

Not only will this improve your reader’s retention, but it will also help your content show up in Google search results. Doing some basic research can help your content align with search intent.

Search intent is the why behind the query. Why did they search for that phrase? What are they exactly searching for?

Keyword research example in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

You can figure this out with some basic keyword research. Follow our guide to learn more.

18. Develop your curiosity

How many times did you need to write a paper in school or something for work that you just couldn’t care less about? How well did the paper come out?

Chances are, it could have been better. Great writers are genuinely curious about the thing they’re writing about, and that curiosity propels them to find the right words and sound more interesting.

So if you’re struggling to write about whatever you need to write about, find a way to get curious about it. Watch some interesting videos on YouTube or read interesting news stories on it. Do whatever you need to get curious.

19. Read great writers

If you want to be a great writer, you should read other great writers’ work. Find the best writers in the field you want to write about and start reading.

Google is your friend here.

20. Write somewhere new

My third-biggest writing improvement happened when I started writing at coffee shops, restaurants, cool hotels, and even out in nature.

There’s something about getting into a fresh environment that shakes your brain up and helps you find better words. Next time you’re struggling to write, go out and write somewhere new.

21. Sleep on it

Finally, if you’ve followed all these tips and still can’t seem to find the right words, just step away for a while. A good night’s rest can do wonders.

It’s funny how many times I felt like I was bashing my head off a brick wall trying to write something. But then just putting it down for tomorrow completely turned it around for me.

Sometimes, it’s best to put the pen down for a bit.

Final thoughts

The best writers make writing a daily practice and aren’t afraid to ruthlessly edit their work.

My three biggest tips out of the 21 are to read your writing out loud, keep a journal, and try writing in new places. Hopefully, those three simple things will help you become a better writer.

Ready for more? Here are a few other great articles:

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20 Actionable Blogging Tips for Beginners

Started a blog but can’t get any readers? Let’s fix that.

I started blogging in 2015. From a blog about breakdancing to being a professional content marketer, I’ve learned a lot along the way. 

In this post, I’ll share the 20 blogging tips I wish I had known when I started.

Let’s get to it.

1. Focus on a profitable niche that you’re passionate about

Don’t mess around on the blogosphere on things you don’t care about. You won’t stick with it. 

Plus, your content will likely also be the same as everyone else’s, which makes competing hard. So choose something you love

If the top-ranking articles consistently grind your gears because they’re wrong or give bad advice, this is a sign of a good niche. Make it your task to set the record straight. 

Ideally, the niche should be profitable. By that, I mean that there are actual people paying for products and services. 

Google your niche (or relevant keywords) and see if the ranking sites are monetizing. It can be from ads, affiliate marketing, products (courses, e-commerce, books, etc.), software, and services (consulting, actual execution, speaking, etc.). If they are monetizing, it probably means there is a market. 

For example, if your niche is teaching Korean, you’ll find sites on Google selling books, courses, apps, tutoring, and educational subscriptions. 

A site selling educational books and courses about learning Korean

2. Make sure your website’s technical fundamentals are solid

Imagine spending all your time and effort creating tons of useful content, yet no one can ever find it. Does it feel like it already hurts somewhere? I feel you. 

But it can happen. It can be as simple as a rogue noindex tag on your website, and you won’t even show up in search engines. 

Technical issues can wreak havoc on your site. So make sure you fix them.

The simplest way to do this is to sign up for our free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) and run a crawl of your site. If there are any technical issues, the tool will flag them out for you. 

It’ll also explain why something is an issue and how you can fix it:

An issue, with advice on how to fix, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

3. Target topics people are searching for

If you want consistent, passive traffic coming to your site, the best way is to rank high on Google. To do that, you’ll need to target topics people are searching for. 

Here’s how to find these topics:

  1. Enter one or a few relevant keywords into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Switch the tab to Questions
Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Ideally, you’d want to tackle topics that are:

  1. High in Traffic Potential (TP) – TP is the estimated amount of search traffic you can potentially gain if you rank #1 for that topic. We calculate it by estimating the amount of search traffic the #1 page currently gets.
  2. Low in Keyword Difficulty (KD) – KD is how difficult it is to rank for the keyword in the top 10 organic search results. 

You can narrow down the list by using the filters. For example, you can set a KD filter to a maximum of 10 and a TP filter to a minimum of 500. 

Keyword filters, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Then pick out those keywords that are relevant to your site. 

Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs 

4. Tackle your competitors’ topics too

Imagine if you had a crystal ball that could see exactly which of your competitors’ articles got the most traffic. You’d be able to tackle the same topics and (hopefully) replicate their success. 

Well, you can. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Enter your competitor’s domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Top pages report
Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows you which articles send your competitor the most organic search traffic. 

For example, we can see that Beardbrand’s article on beard styles gets an estimated 35,373 organic visits per month in the U.S. And out of the 4,349 keywords it ranks for, “beard styles” sends it the most traffic. 

If you’re competing with Beardbrand, this is a great way to find topics to write about. 


Some of these keywords will be difficult to rank for. But if they’re important to you, you should target them anyway. It just may not be now. Keep them in mind and target them when your site has grown.

5. Find “easy to rank” topics

Links are an important Google ranking factor. Generally speaking, the more high-quality links you have, the higher your page will rank. 

Let’s extrapolate from that idea. If a page doesn’t have many backlinks but still ranks high on Google, it means it’s a low-competition topic. And we can find these topics using Ahrefs’ Content Explorer:

  1. Enter a relevant keyword
  2. Set a Referring domains filter to max. 10
  3. Set a Page traffic filter to min. 500
Filtered results, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

Click Details and then the Organic keywords tab to see which keywords those pages are ranking for.

Organic keywords tab in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

These are potential keywords you can target. 

6. Be mindful of search intent

Google aims to provide its users with the most relevant results for their queries. So if you want to rank high on Google, you need to be the most relevant result. 

In the real world, that means creating content that matches search intent.

What is search intent? Search intent is basically the why behind a query. And since Google works to show the most relevant results, we can look at the top-ranking pages to figure out the three Cs of search intent:

  1. Content type – Is there a dominant type of content on the SERP, such as blog posts, product pages, videos, or landing pages?
  2. Content format – Is there a dominant content format on the SERP, such as guides, listicles, news articles, opinion pieces, or reviews?
  3. Content angle – Is there a dominant angle on the SERP, such as freshly updated content or content aimed at beginners?

For example, let’s analyze the three Cs for the topic, “best wireless headphones.”

SERP for "best wireless headphones"
  1. Content type – They’re all blog posts.
  2. Content format – They’re mostly listicles.
  3. Content angle – They’re mostly fresh, i.e., updated to the latest year.

So if you’re targeting this keyword, you’ll likely have to create something similar—a listicle updated to the latest year.

Recommended reading: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners 

7. Create content that attracts amplifiers

In theory, every reader will share your content with at least one or two friends, thereby creating a “viral sensation.” 

In reality, virality rarely works this way. Instead, most “viral” content is kickstarted by amplifiers: Individuals who have the ability to get many people to see and share. 

Typically, these amplifiers are people who have a large audience. Examples of amplifiers include journalists, influencers, YouTubers, podcasters, and more. 

The four content audience groups

To create content that amplifiers want to share, it has to be unique—unique data, perspectives, tips, etc.

A story from our chief marketing officer, Tim Soulo, perfectly illustrates this. Years ago, he reached out to marketing influencer Rand Fishkin about his epic 5,000-word guide to strategic writing. Rand said no to sharing it. 

Email from Rand Fishkin

A few years later, Rand shared our post on podcast advertising even though we didn’t ask. Most recently, he tweeted about our GSC study:

The difference: Our content is unique. 

How do you create unique content? Here are some ideas:

  1. Do you have personal experience with something? Write about it. If you don’t, can you experience or test it somehow?
  2. Do you have access to data, or can you work with someone who has? Analyze the data and present your findings.
  3. Can you interview experts? It’s OK if you don’t have the prerequisite knowledge—you can always talk to thought leaders in your field. 

8. Write like how you talk

Forget your schooling days. Blogging on the web is not like writing an academic paper. Nothing sends people off to dreamland faster than having to read an abstract, an introduction, a methodology, results, and a conclusion. 

You don’t have to be stiff and formal. Good web copy is casual. Write as if you’re talking to a friend. 

Don’t be afraid to disappoint your English teacher, for even grammar rules can sometimes be bent—just like how it is in real life. 

9. Make your posts easy to read

Let’s be real. No one is clamoring to read your article. They’d rather be on Netflix.

Therefore, it’s your job as a blogger to get them to start reading. As famous copywriter Bond Halbert said, “Good writing creates effortless reading.”

Here’s how you can transform your user’s reading experience:

  • Use short paragraphs – Huge chunks of text daunt readers, but short ones invite them in. Use Hemingway to fix this.
  • Break up long sentences – Long sentences are hard to follow. Break them up by finding instances where you used words like “and,” “because,” and “that.”
  • Insert multimedia – Videos, images, GIFs, etc., can help illustrate your points without adding more words.
  • Use formatting – Bold, italics, quotes, and lists break up chunks of copy and add extra emphasis.
  • Read your copy out loud – This pinpoints areas where your content doesn’t flow smoothly. 
Messy vs. neat content

10. Craft eye-catching headlines with the ABC formula

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.

David Ogilvy

People will decide whether to read your content based on your headline. This makes the headline the most crucial part. 

Use the ABC formula to craft compelling headlines that reel readers in:

  • A – Adjective
  • B – Benefit
  • C – Confidence booster

Here’s how it works in the real world:

Example of compelling headline

11. Hook your readers with a PAS intro

Your headline has done its job. The reader has arrived at your post. Now, it’s the introduction’s time to shine—it has to hook them in and get them to actually read the post. 

How do you do that? Consider using the PAS formula: 

PAS formula

Here’s an example on how to use it:

PAS formula in action

12. Reach out to people you mention

As you’re creating your content, it’s inevitable that you’ll mention someone or link to one of their content pieces. You should reach out and let them know after you’ve published it.

Twitter DM conversation

Most of them will be delighted to hear they’ve been featured. They may even share it on social media or link to it. 

Regardless of whether they do, what’s more important is that you start building a relationship with them. This is how you create a network of like-minded friends in the industry. 

To do this, just go through your blog post and make a note whenever you link elsewhere. Then, find their emails (or their social media accounts) and reach out to let them know.

If you’re building your following on third-party platforms like Twitter or YouTube, don’t be surprised if they suddenly ban you, delete your account, or limit your reach. 

They have their own policies, and control is out of your hands. 

The best way to combat this is to build an email list. For as long as your fans are subscribed to you, you can communicate with them anytime.

Building an email list requires two ingredients: traffic and something of value. 

Following the blogging tips in this post will get you the traffic. This means what you need is something of value to persuade your readers to join your list. At Ahrefs, we keep it simple by offering to deliver more of the content they loved to their inbox.

Ahrefs' subscribe box

But the world’s your oyster. You can offer a free ebook, the PDF version of the post, an email course, whatever. All you need is a bit of creativity.

14. Get feedback on your content

If you’re writing alone, it’s easy to make mistakes and miss things. So it’s worth getting a second pair of eyes on your content before you hit “publish.” 

We do this all the time. We take turns to read each other’s content and offer feedback. We identify areas that can be added or removed, points that can be clarified, and sentences that can be worded better. 

We’ve even reflected that in each of our blog posts.

Ahrefs blog's author box

Most blog posts follow a common structure. For example, we use this template for listicles:

Listicle template

It’s the exact same template we’re using for this post too. Did you spot it? 

Using templates saves you time and keeps your content quality consistent. So you don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this front. Your readers won’t mind at all. 

Recommended reading: 4 Simple Blog Post Templates (And When to Use Them) 

16. Promote your content by repurposing it

In all, 4.4 million new blog posts are published every day across all platforms. So don’t expect people to “magically” find your content. You have to promote it and let them know. 

One way to do this is to repurpose your published content into different formats. For example, you can turn content pieces into videos, which was what we did for the earlier version of this post. 

You can also turn them into Twitter threads:

Or Reddit posts, Quora answers, IG stories, LinkedIn posts—you’re only limited by your creativity. 

Recommended reading: 13 Content Promotion Tactics to Get More Eyeballs on Your Content 

17. Refresh older content

As you progress along your blogging journey, your thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and even writing style will improve. You’ll be doing your audience a disservice if you do not update your older content to reflect your newfound knowledge and ideas. 

Plus, refreshing your content has an SEO benefit too. We’ve seen many times that an update or rewrite improves our rankings and gets us more search traffic. 

For example, we recently updated our post on free SEO tools, and organic traffic spiked:

Spike in organic traffic after an update

How do you know which content to refresh? The simplest way is to install our free WordPress SEO plugin and run a content audit. 

Once you’ve identified the posts, then it’s a matter of figuring out what you need to update. You can do this by analyzing the top-ranking pages to see what they’re doing better than you.

Sometimes, it’s because certain sections are outdated. Sometimes, it’s because you didn’t include certain subsections or cover certain subtopics. And occasionally, you got the whole thing wrong and need to do a full rewrite (fret not, we do this often too!). 

Recommended reading: Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO 

18. Read at least 30 minutes a day

Here are two quotes from the bestselling author, Morgan Housel:

  1. Most good writing is a byproduct of good reading. You’ll never meet a good writer who doesn’t spend most of their time reading.”
  2. Good ideas are easy to write, bad ideas are hard. Difficulty is a quality signal, and writer’s block usually indicates more about your ideas than your writing.”

If you’re stuck in your writing or can’t seem to create something unique, it means you’re not exposing yourself to new ideas. 

Reading is a cure to that. 

I recommend building a habit of reading at least 30 minutes a day. As for what books to read, you can always look toward the thought leaders in your industry and see what they’re recommending. 

19. Keep a commonplace book

According to Ryan Holiday, a commonplace book is:

A central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.

As you’re reading and consuming, you need a place to store your notes so you can access and remind yourself of what you’ve already read. 

Creating one is simple. For me, I store all my notes on Notion:

An example of a commonplace book on Notion

As I’m reading a book, I make tons of highlights. After I’m done, I transfer them to a new page in the appropriate category.

If I need something, I can easily navigate to any category or search for the things I’m looking for.

20. Create a “Do 100” project

David Bayles and Ted Orland write in “Art & Fear”:

[A] ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class, he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Quantity leads to quality. The more you create, the better you become. 

In fact, my biggest jump in improvement came when I committed to sending five emails a week to my breakdance blog subscribers. I eventually wrote over a hundred emails.

Daily emails sent to a breakdance blog's subscribers

So if you want to become a better blogger, I recommend creating a “Do 100” project. Basically, this is a project where you do something 100 times. In this case, you should be aiming to write 100 blog posts

This will keep you accountable and force you to “practice.”

Final thoughts

Blogging is hard work. But the good news is that you’re not alone. 

Plenty of bloggers have gone through the ups and downs. With that hard-won experience, they’ve charted the path for you.

All that’s left for you to do is to implement these blogging tips and get to work. 

Any questions? Let me know on Twitter

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15 Easy (And Free) Ways to Promote Your Website in 2022

Free and effective promotion tactics? Yeah, right.

At the risk of sounding like a salesman, let me tell you that not only do these marketing tactics exist, but they’re also actually some of the most effective ones. We’ve been using them, other marketers use them, and most of the big websites I’ve seen to date use them. 

But that’s not all. You don’t need a degree in marketing or to be a marketing pro to start promoting your website for free and get results. Here are 15 ideas that go into the free, easy, and effective basket.

1. Prioritize easy keywords for SEO

If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, it stands for search engine optimization, and it allows you to get free traffic from search engines like Google. 

Overview of our beginner's guide to affiliate marketing
For example, our beginner’s guide on affiliate marketing gets an estimated 24.4K visits from search engines every month.

One of the fundaments of the SEO process is to choose the right keywords to create content for. Now, a tried and tested tactic for new websites and websites without a strong backlink profile is to choose keywords with low ranking difficulty. 

You can spot those keywords by mainly looking at two things: 

  • How many backlinks from unique domains do the top-ranking pages have? 
  • Do the top-ranking pages belong to a domain with high topical authority? 

Here’s how you can do it using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. You can:

  1. Enter a seed keyword (or multiple seed keywords).
  2. Go to the Matching terms report and filter the KD (Keyword Difficulty) metric to show keywords with up to 20 KD. This will show you easy keywords based on backlink profile. 
  3. Pick a relevant keyword and open the SERP panel to see what kinds of pages rank. If you see popular brands dominating, those keywords may be hard to rank despite the low KD. SERPs without brands like that should be easier to target. 
  4. Repeat step #3 for every relevant keyword on the list. 
Keywords with KD lower than 20 based on "matcha" seed keyword
Keywords with KD lower than 20 based on the “matcha” seed keyword.
Example of a keyword with low KD and no "very strong" brands
Example of a keyword with low KD and no “very strong” brands.

Single low-competition keywords may not offer as much traffic potential. But if you pile up a number of pages targeting these keywords, you can end up with serious organic search traffic. 

Also, low-competition keywords may convert better than their more generic counterparts if they are specific enough. One of the neat tricks to find keywords that can possibly convert to sales is to check the CPC ad cost to see if people bid for those keywords. 

Keyword ideas sorted by CPC

So what to do with difficult keywords? Of course, you may target them any time you wish, but note that they will probably take more time (and backlinks) to rank. 

Position history chart for our article on keyword research
Despite many factors in favor of our article on keyword research, it reached #1 in the U.S. only after some four years of content updates and earning backlinks. Even then, it could not hold that position. KD 87 out of 100. Strong brands competing on the same keyword. Data via Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.


You may also want to try out zero–search volume keywords, as they are usually low-competition too. This article will introduce you to the subject and show you the steps. Do note that this tactic doesn’t always bring results and can be a bit more complicated than what you’ve read above. Also, it may be more suitable for some areas (B2B, emerging technologies) than others.

2. Do SEO for your existing pages 

Sometimes, you don’t need to create new content to get more traffic. Your old content may just need some SEO work, including:

  • More precise alignment with search intent to better serve the meaning of the search query.
  • Refreshing the content, making it more up to date. 
  • Introducing a unique value to show Google and searchers that you have something new to add to the table (to Google, unique content is quality content). 
  • Optimizing your title tag to get more clicks from the SERPs (search engine results pages). 
  • Filling content gaps for more topical relevancy. 
  • Adding internal links to distribute link equity. 

At Ahrefs, we do these things to get more traffic regularly. With multiple successes. 

Nailed search intent (before and after results shown in line graph)
Here’s how organic traffic to one of our articles grew after we aligned with the search intent.

You can follow our step-by-step process with this guide: Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO 

3. Create a free resource 

This tactic is all about creating valuable, unique content that’s ideally centered around your brand or product—then offering free access to the content.

Whether it’s a printable PDF guide or a tutorial series on YouTube, focus on adding value for your audience. You’ll then start seeing the magic of word of mouth at work.

Actual user feedback for “Blogging for business”
Actual user feedback for “Blogging for business,” our free video tutorial course on how to grow your blog past 100K monthly visitors.

But first, you need a proven topic for your free resource. 

You can find inspiration for topics manually by visiting social media profiles of authors and magazines in your niche and looking at the engagement signals: likes, retweets, comments, etc. Additionally, you can browse through online communities and see what resonates with your target audience. 

Sample content idea from Reddit

But there are also tools that can help you with this job. 

One tool we recommend quite often for any kind of audience research is SparkToro. Just plug in topics your target audience frequently talks about to discover related topics and hashtags (among many other things).

SparkToro search tool

And with an all-in-one SEO toolset like Ahrefs, you can broaden your options with keyword research. 

Matching terms report with applied filters

And on top of that, you can reverse engineer what worked for your competitors. 

Top pages report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer
Top pages report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer will uncover pages with the most organic traffic. You can also filter the results, as in the example above.


Consider creating content tailored to platforms with native distribution mechanisms. For example, you can create a course on a site like Udemy on how to, say, paint Warhammer miniatures and mention that you own a website on the topic with more cool resources.

4. Partner up for a joint course or webinar 

Look for other businesses that target a similar audience but do not compete with you directly.

Then see if they are up for a content collaboration with you. This way, you can pitch to their audience, and they get to pitch to yours.

Here’s an example: In 2018, we worked with Buffer, a social media scheduling tool, to create a webinar titled “How to Get Website Traffic With Evergreen Content and Social Media Marketing.”

Buffer + Ahrefs joint webinar

While the audience was comprised of digital marketers, our products are different enough and do not compete with each other. 

5. Repurpose your content for other marketing channels 

Repurposing content is about using existing content and “repacking” it for other marketing channels. 

For example, you can chop a larger article into smaller pieces and use them to promote the original piece via guest blogging. Actually, it’s such a common technique that it has its own name: the “Splintering Technique.” 

Splintering technique for content repurposing

Or you can turn an article into a video and take advantage of YouTube’s search engine and content recommendation algorithms. 

Article repurposed into a video
Our article on influencer marketing was repurposed into a video and published on YouTube to reach even more people. Of course, it can work the other way around too.

Or you can take an entire post, strip it down to a tl;dr version, and publish it on Reddit. 

Article repurposed into a tl;dr version posted on Reddit
This is something we did with our guide on keyword research.

There are other ways to take advantage of this tactic. Check out our complete guide to content repurposing, where we share nine ideas for that. 

6. Find guest blogging opportunities 

How can you promote your website while writing for others? 

When you publish content for other websites, a number of things happen: 

  • You get a boost to your website traffic (although it’s not the best method for consistent traffic).
  • You expose your brand to a new audience. 
  • The earned link contributes to your backlink profile. 
  • You can make new connections in the industry. 

Apart from preparing a pitch that stands out from the crowd, the key is to find the right places to publish. 

For this, you can use Google with search operators. Then you need to vet each page manually. Try our free website authority checker for that last part. 

Using Google with search operators to find guest posting opportunities
Result from screening a website with Ahrefs' free authority checker

With an Ahrefs sub and our SEO Toolbar, you can also vet the websites right inside the SERPs.

Using Google with search operators and Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar to find guest posting opportunities

Or use our Content Explorer to get additional insight to filter for results that meet specific performance criteria. 

Possible guest blogging opportunities filtered by DR and website traffic
Possible guest blogging opportunities filtered by DR and website traffic.

7. Syndicate your content 

Content syndication is a similar tactic to guest blogging. The only difference is that with content syndication, you publish the same thing in multiple places. 

Getting started with content syndication is practically the same as guest blogging. You need: 

  • Great content. 
  • Potential syndicates (websites that can publish your content). You can use the same process and tools as described above. The only thing that changes is your search query. So you can use something like “originally appeared on” + [topic].
  • A good pitch to get your foot through the door. 

With syndication comes the option to self-syndicate. So unlike guest blogging, you can self-populate your articles to other platforms like Medium, Reddit, or LinkedIn. These platforms have a large audience and their own distribution mechanism, so you can get in front of people’s eyes for free. 

Hubspot syndicating article on Medium


Use a backlink checking tool to see where authors of your choice syndicate their content. In Ahrefs, go to Backlinks report, set the word or phrase filter to “Anchor with surrounding text,” and type “originally appeared on” inside the input field.

Backlinks profile with Anchor filter applied

8. Engage with your audience on social media 

Social media platforms, including online communities, are places where you can likely find your target audience. You just need to figure out where exactly and how you can provide unique value to them. If you have something important to say, there will be plenty of opportunities to link to your website. 

A link to a blog post that's part of a relevant answer on Quora
Example: posting answers on Quora.

Start by learning more about your audience. Again, for this, I’ll recommend SparkToro. 

Another way to find places that mention topics related to your website (or even your website) is to use a web monitoring tool like Google Alerts or our very own Ahrefs Alerts. 

Sample Ahrefs Alert setup

Once you’ve zeroed in on your communities, you may want to approach them with these universal tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to what works for each audience – After joining, read the rules and dedicate some time to researching the group. Look at how the existing members interact. Also, comment on others’ posts while adding value and being helpful.
  • Post thoughtful, insightful comments – Others will begin to return the favor. Don’t be a spammer. 
  • Start referencing your own website after a while – Only do so after you’ve spent a good amount of time giving back to the community and making some friends. Even then, try to go about it in a way that doesn’t scream “blatant advertisement.” Asking for opinions or positioning your website as something that may help people out are some ways to go about it.


You shouldn’t always expect referral traffic from your social posts. Two reasons:

  • If there’s no natural way to include a link, don’t do it. Otherwise, your content may be seen as a spam policy violation.
  • Social media platforms seem to prefer native continent, i.e., content that is to be “consumed” on the spot instead of accessed via a link. This means sometimes you will have to trade links for engagement. 

Case in point. Have you heard about Miss Excel? Her software training business can generate up to six figures per day. Not per month, per day. Even Google Docs tried to correct me on that.

Incorrect autocorrect by Google Docs

Miss Excel gets customers through social media. But you can rarely come across a direct link to her course in any of her posts. Instead, she directly shares Excel tips on TikTok and Instagram. Here’s a great interview on how she does what she does. 

Instagram intro on Miss Excel's page

9. Start a community of your own

And how about creating your own community? 

It may work if:

  • People genuinely like to share thoughts on topics related to your website. 
  • You can offer a unique value that will attract and retain your audience. 
Marketing Solved community promoting a free course
Marketing Solved is a popular marketing community run on Facebook. Note the highlight.

Going further, we can see there are multiple benefits of having a community tied to your website. In terms of promotional aspects, the biggest benefit will likely be word of mouth. 

Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing channels. It will start working organically when community members feel like the value inside the community will benefit others. But you can potentially influence word of mouth by giving people a reason to talk, such as a new study you just published. 

Sharing an original research study on Ahrefs Insider

This way, a community can naturally start to attract members and, as a result, promote your website. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect overnight success with this tactic. Treat it, rather, as a long-term investment with dividends paid as you go. 

10. Build an email list, start a newsletter 

Here’s why email marketing has been utilized by so many marketers: It allows them to build an audience and communicate with them directly and regularly. For free. An email marketing list like that can become one of your most valuable assets. 

Of course, building an email list is not that easy. But if email marketing is done in tandem with quality content marketing, a setup like that puts the process of list-building almost on autopilot. All you need to do is to put up a sign-up form next to your content. 

Email sign-up form displayed next to an article

Before you run off and start looking for the best email app, do make sure you’re on the right track:

  • You need to commit to publishing great content regularly – After all, the content should attract people to your email list. If you feel like you can use a step back to revisit your blogging strategy, check out this list of 17 blogging tips. 
  • What kind of newsletter will your audience like to read? For example, we recently found that Ahrefs’ audience prefers to get a short digest of each article we feature in the email instead of, say, bare links to articles. 
  • What will be unique about your newsletter? Do you plan to include some kind of added value or exclusive content for your email subscribers? Or will you keep it simple by offering people the good ol’ “never miss a post again”? 

11. Get listed in local directories (for local businesses) 

If you’re a local business owner, getting listed in local directories is a must. 

This is because people look for local services on the web all of the time. For this, they use either local service directories or simply plug in a keyword like “lawyer near me” in Google. In the latter case, Google will usually point them to a local directory. 

SERP for "lawyer near me" dominated by map pack and directories
Looking for a lawyer via Google these days? Well, you will see mostly maps and links to directories.

Creating or claiming your Google Business Profile is a good starting point. Setting up the profile is quite straightforward (and free). However, what I recommend here is going a step further and making sure your profile is optimized. Here’s how to do it in 30 minutes. 

Completing this step will make your business profile (hence, your website) eligible to show up in Google Map Pack (the search result with a map, as seen in the picture above), Google Maps, and a local knowledge panel when someone looks for your brand. 

Next, add your business to relevant local directories. For example, a lawyer may want to list their service for free with Thervo.com. Just make sure to keep all information consistent across platforms.

Once you’re done with adding your business to directories, check out our guide on local SEO to take things a notch higher. Among other things, this guide will show you tactics that can improve your position in the local map pack and how to create content for keywords with local search intent.

12. Do outreach for link building 

Outreach done for link building purposes is a tactic where you get your content in front of bloggers and influencers in your industry. The aim is to get them to talk about you and link to you.

This tactic is mainly utilized to boost the “authority” of your pages in the eyes of Google so that these pages rank higher and bring more search traffic. 

Correlation between search traffic and referring domains
Our study of 1 billion pages found a strong, positive correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and search traffic from Google.

In its simplest form, outreach is the act of reaching out and asking for a link back to your website. And yet, great outreach at scale is a lot more than just asking for a backlink. The process involves:

  1. Creating content. 
  2. Finding prospects. 
  3. Segmenting your prospects. 
  4. Finding the right contact details.
  5. Crafting your pitch.
  6. Scaling your outreach. 

Sounds easy, right? But there are actually a lot of details involved that can make or break the process. Also, steps like finding prospects or finding the correct emails are too tedious or even impossible without the right tools. 

Hunter's Sheets add-on filling email addresses the tool can find

The best way to go about your outreach process is to pick up a tried and tested process you can simply follow to a T. Here’s one from us, completely free: 


Some backlinks will have a greater impact on your webpages than others. Learn what makes a good backlink. 

13. Get free press with digital PR 

Digital PR (public relations) can do such an amazing thing: carrying your message to your audience for you.

Link to a local lawyer's website in a magazine—a PR effort
And now you know a reputable music industry attorney. All thanks to her commentary on an article about NFTs.

Promoting your website through digital PR includes:

  • Using services like HARO or SourceBottle to monitor journalist requests – Sign up and wait for expert commentary requests related to your website or important to your audience. Try also following #journorequest on Twitter. 
  • Newsjacking – This is about monitoring news to react with expert commentary and thought leadership pieces. 
  • Pitching linkable assets to journalists and bloggers – You can use something you’ve already created or create something special for that occasion. 

All of the above tactics allow you to benefit in three ways: 

  1. Build awareness of your website
  2. Send traffic to your website when people want to learn more about you
  3. Boost SEO if the commentary includes a live link to your website 
Backlinks report showing a link from a high-DR website
Being featured in the press is usually a great opportunity for a high-DR link.

Here are two free tools from Ahrefs that can help you with your digital PR efforts. 

The first one is our aforementioned free website authority checker. Thanks to it, you will be able to quickly see the authority of the website. 

The second one is our Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. You can use it as a free way to monitor backlinks from your PR efforts. 

Backlinks report with DR, anchor, and dofollow filters
With the Backlinks report, you can easily filter your backlinks based on properties like DR, type of link, or the text inside the anchor and the surrounding text. In this example, we see links earned by a law firm from publicity around Johnny Depp’s recent trial.

14. Get featured in newsletters or podcasts

Chances are that there is a newsletter in your niche that regularly curates content found on the web. 

And chances are, if your content is good enough, it can be featured in one of those newsletters. 

One of my articles featured in #SEOFOMO newsletter
One of my articles featured in #SEOFOMO newsletter subscribed by +20K SEOs.

Naturally, a link inside a newsletter won’t count for SEO. But it can lead to links from authors reading that newsletter. And in any case, you’re putting your name on the map and making the newsletter’s subscribers aware of you. 

What you need to do here is to find relevant newsletters and show your work in a well-thought-out outreach pitch: 

Using Google with search operators to find newsletters
You can use the same process as with any prospecting process explained in this article. Tip: use brackets to group multiple terms.

Two words of advice:

  • Pitch only your best articles – Remember, you’re pitching to a flesh-and-blood human, and they don’t like spamming. 
  • Don’t worry if your content doesn’t get chosen this time – Try to reforge that into a relationship with the editor. There will be other chances. 

15. Get featured in rankings or reviews 

The web is full of rankings and reviews. Chances are that some of them are related to what you do. Getting featured (and linked) is a free way to get some direct referral traffic, boost your SEO, and increase your brand awareness. 

If you’re just starting out, you may want to build some authority before you send your first pitch. Keep in mind that editors will screen your website by a number of different criteria—from website design, social media following, to even personally testing your products, recipes, strategies, and whatever you offer. Also, they may be actual experts on the topic. 

So what may help you here is segmenting your outreach prospects based on the authority of the website you’re targeting. What you’ll do then is to start from smaller websites and move your way up. 

The backlink profile of a website can be a useful, quick proxy for this, so you can use Ahrefs’ Site Audit or the free website authority checker if you don’t own a subscription.

At all times, check your targets manually. This will help you personalize your pitch and potentially discover additional opportunities, such as a special section for “rising stars.”

"Rising stars" section in a newsletter

Another tip here is to focus on webpages that rank very specific types of websites. They can be easier to reach out to since more niche topics tend to have smaller audiences. So for example, if you’re running a blog that focuses on low FODMAP cooking, look for that kind of opportunity instead of “best food blogs.” 

Final thoughts 

These aren’t the only possible ways to promote your website for free. I do encourage you to experiment and double down on what works. If you think something may work for your audience (and even if it hasn’t been tried before), go for it. But make sure to measure the results. 

Keep in mind that your marketing tactics don’t need to be truly unique to be effective. One of the best places to find promotion ideas will always be your competition and other successful businesses—even if they operate in a different industry. 

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