The Complete SEO Strategy That Increased Our Blog’s Search Traffic by 89% (in 3 months)

David McSweeney

David is the owner of Top5SEO and a white hat SEO evangelist. SEO case studies make him a lot happier than they should, and he has a tendency to overuse ellipses...

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Data from Content Explorer tool.

    If you’re struggling to grow your blog’s search traffic then you’re not alone.

    Until recently the organic traffic report for Ahrefs blog looked like this:

    organic traffic

    Although search volume was reasonable, growth was SLOW — particularly when you consider that we were publishing 4 new blog posts a week.

    So, at the end of last year, we developed and implemented an SEO strategy that has lead to an 89% growth in our organic traffic in just 3 months:

    organic traffic growth

    Today we’re going to share that strategy with you!

    All in all, there are 7 parts to the strategy, and it may surprise you to learn that step 1 involved deleting almost half of our content…

    Here’s why.

    Part 1. We Deleted 179,158 Words Of Content

    WordPress has a top secret, hidden feature that looks like this:


    Ok, I made that up. It’s not really top secret, but the chances are you’ve never had to use the bulk ‘Move to Trash’ option on your blog before.

    And that’s because it’s a pretty nuclear step.

    But it’s a step we felt we had to take.

    You see, the Ahrefs blog has been on the go for around 3 years now, which is a loooooong time on the internet.

    Back in the dark ages of 2013, most gurus advised a strategy that went something like this:

    Post frequent, decent quality, 500 word+ blog posts, targeting a broad spread of keywords and watch the traffic roll in! More content = better!”

    And yeah, it kind of worked.

    But a combination of Google being better able to understand content itself rather than just keywords — 2013’s Hummingbird update was a game changer — and the sheer volume of content being created — some 2 million blog posts a day — means that this approach just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

    In fact, nowadays, lots of so-so content on your blog will probably do more harm than good.

    Additionally, if we consider that user signals will become more and more important to Google over time (and we do), then all those posts with ZERO visits, and ZERO engagement can’t be sending Google good vibes.

    Unfortunately there were LOTS of posts like this on the Ahrefs blog.

    What We Did

    At the start of November 2015, there were 541 posts live on the blog.

    There are now 304.

    wordpress live posts

    In total we have deleted 266 posts from the blog, but have since added a further 29 (the Maths works).

    So how did we decide which posts to get rid of?

    We Conducted A Content Audit

    There was a lot of content to go through, so we decided to make things easy for ourselves. Easy is good right?

    Here’s what we did:

    Step 1: We put the URLs of every post on the blog into a spreadsheet.

    Step 2: For each URL we recorded the following:

    • Title
    • Word Count
    • Views (last 30 days)
    • Views From Search (last 30 days)
    • Referring Domains
    • Author

    The view data was collected from Google Analytics


    The referring domains data was collected using Ahrefs Batch Analysis Tool (easy to grab data for lots of URLs at once)


    Step 3: We sorted the spreadsheet by:

    • a) number of views from search
    • b) total views
    • c) referring domains
    • d) word count

    All lowest to highest — so we ended up with posts that had ZERO views and ZERO referring domains (links) at the top of the spreadsheet.

    Step 4: We manually reviewed each of these posts in case it was a hidden gem (there were a couple).

    Step 5: We marked all low quality posts with poor performance metrics for deletion (red). Our final spreadsheet looked like this:


    Step 6: We deleted the posts marked in red!

    Step 7: To preserve link equity, the URLs of any deleted pages with referring domains were 301 redirected to either:

    • a relevant post
    • the blog’s home page

    And that was that.

    How You Can Apply This To Your Blog

    If your blog has been up and running for a while, and has a reasonable amount of pages (I would say at least 50), it’s well worth running a content audit to help you:

    • find low quality/under performing posts which require updating or removing
    • rediscover hidden gems that might just need a little TLC/promotion to get them ranking

    But a word of warning…

    Think very carefully before deleting anything.

    Because like I said, this was the nuclear option.

    Part 2. We Put Together A 6 Month Content/Keyword Strategy

    So yeah, remember how I mentioned above that Google had moved on from simply analysing keywords on a page?

    …a combination of Google being better able to understand content itself rather than just keywords…

    Well, now I’m going to totally contradict myself.

    Kind of.

    While it is correct to say that Google is better able to infer meaning from content, keyword research continues to be a HUGE part of good SEO.

    In fact, an SEO/content strategy without keyword research is a bit like this:

    seo strategy without keyword research

    But Wait… Shouldn’t We Be Focusing On Topics Instead Of Keywords?

    There’s a school of thought that says we should stop worrying about keywords and instead focus on broad topics and concepts to satisfy search intent.

    This is half right.

    Which means of course that it’s also half wrong.

    Because to get the maximum impact from our SEO strategy we should be:

    Combining keyword research with targeting broad topics and concepts to satisfy search intent.

    Rand Fishkin explains why perfectly in this White Board Friday.

    In a nutshell, keyword research gives us

    • an insight into what people are searching for in our niche
    • an indication of the potential organic traffic our website can eventually achieve

    What We Did

    Note: Keyword research is a BIG topic. I’ll cover a couple of the strategies we used to select our target keywords below, but I would highly recommend you check out Benjamin Brandall’s 19 step keyword research process for a more complete, actionable keyword strategy.

    In our keyword research process we were looking for 2 things:

    • 1. Keywords with high volume for which we could rank
    • 2. Keywords that were driving search traffic to our competitors

    Here are 2 of the methods we used to find keywords that fitted these criteria.

    The first method uses a keyword research tool called Long Tail Pro ($37 per month here) and the second uses Ahrefs Positions Explorer (now included with all Ahrefs account plans).

    Method 1. Finding High Volume Keywords With Long Tail Pro

    The Google Keyword Planner is a great tool, but its interface is pretty sucky to say the least.

    Long Tail Pro (LTP) takes the data from Keyword Planner, combines it with other metrics, and puts everything into a much more manageable interface.

    There are loads of advanced features, but here’s a super quick (and super simplified) run down of the tool. You’ll need to connect LTP up to your Google Account and configure a few things, but we’ll skip that for now.

    Step 1: Create a new project, give it a title, and set your target country.


    Step 2: Add some seed keywords. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll add “SEO” and “backlinks”. We’ll also check the box to include global search volume in addition to USA data and then we’ll hit “Generate Keywords & Fetch Data” to start the search.


    Step 3: Analyse the generated keywords, pick out the ones that look like they might be worth targeting, and put them into a spreadsheet. To give you an indication, we looked for a minimum global search volume of 500. You might want to sort the reports by local or global search volume to put the most popular keywords at the top.


    That’s a quick overview, but it’s a super powerful tool which is also great for finding long tail keywords (I guess the name is a giveaway!). Here is a video review by Matthew Woodward, which goes into a lot more detail.

    Method 2. Finding Competitor Keywords With Ahrefs Positions Explorer

    If a keyword is driving solid organic traffic to your competitor, then it’s probably one that you are going to want to target on your own site. Here’s how you can easily find high volume competitor keywords with Ahrefs.

    Step 1: Enter your competitor’s domain into Ahrefs Positions Explorer and hit “SEARCH”.


    Step 2: Set your target country and then click on “Organic Research” > “Organic Keywords”


    Step 3: You’ll get a nice report showing the keywords that are driving traffic to your competitor. By default the report is ordered by traffic, but you can also order it by total search volume to put the highest volume keywords at the top. Again, pick out the ones that you feel you might want to target on your own site and add them to your spreadsheet.


    Picking The Winners And Finalising The Content Plan

    So now we had a master list of keywords that we felt would potentially be worth targeting, but we weren’t quite done with our research yet.

    Before making the final decision on whether an individual keyword would be a good fit for our plan, there was one more thing we wanted to know:

    How difficult would it be to rank for it? (at least on the first page)

    For each keyword, the answer to this question started with a simple Google search.


    Now, you may be surprised to hear that we weren’t too worried about metrics at this stage (domain authority, page authority etc) - more that we could go on to create something that deserved to rank alongside the top results (more on this later).

    For each keyword we made that decision by simply clicking through the top ranking pages and making an assessment on their quality.

    If we felt that we could create something just as good (or ideally, better) then we included the keyword in our final content plan.

    In the end we had just over 30 keywords — all with excellent search volumes — which we would be aiming to target over a period of 6 months.

    How You Can Apply This To Your Blog

    If you don’t currently have a content strategy in place for your blog, then putting one together should be priority number 1.

    It doesn’t have to be completely rigid — for example you might want to write a quick post relating to a change/news in your industry — but you should have a clear, short to medium term plan, for the keywords you will aim to target to increase your organic search traffic.


    Part 3. We Cut Down On Publishing Frequency (And We Upped The Quality)

    Ok, now we had the keywords we planned to target… it was time to start creating content!

    Go Go Go right!?

    Well, not exactly.

    In fact, we actually cut down the number of posts we were publishing each week.

    The post schedule on the Ahrefs blog used to look like this:


    That was:

    • Monday: Ahrefs New Feature Alert — a short announcement post from Tim, which detailed any enhancements to Ahrefs
    • Tuesday: A blog post
    • Wednesday: A video post — Embedded YouTube video from our channel and a short blog post
    • Thursday: A blog post

    We decided to ditch the feature alert posts completely (you’ll now see the odd popup announcement directly in Ahrefs tools), and moved the video posts to YouTube/Facebook only.

    For the blog posts, we kept 2 a week as a rough target, but didn’t sweat it too much if we only published 1. Basically the mantra was:

    Quality > Quantity

    We wanted to make sure that every post we published deserved to rank for its target keyword.

    How You Can Apply This To Your Blog

    It’s simple:

    If you want to rank for something these days then you’ve got to make sure that you have the best damn piece of content for that particular keyword.

    Yes, it’s still links (and domain authority) that will push your pages up the rankings, but you’ll find that those links are much easier to come by when you are creating genuinely awesome stuff.

    And awesome stuff takes time to create.

    Brian Dean is the poster boy for this. He publishes just one article a month on his SEO blog Backlinko, but you just know that every time you see that email popping into your inbox he’s going to have produced something AMAZING.

    Something like this:


    I mean, a 1 million domain study! He doesn’t mess about!

    And what does that hard work mean?

    It means links:


    And of course traffic:


    297 referring domains and top 100 rankings for 615 keywords in 6 weeks.

    That’s HOW TO DO IT.

    The takeaway: If you can publish an amazing post every single day, then great, do it! But otherwise, stick to a schedule where you are confident that everything you publish will be the best of the best.

    Ok, now for the not so cool part.

    Our focus on premium quality, keyword focused content has meant that…

    Part 4. We Said “No” To A Lot Of People 🙁

    Look, I hate saying no to people, I really do.

    But the fact of the matter is that 90% of guest post pitches SUCK.

    And the 10% that don’t suck…

    Well even when we do accept a pitch and solicit a draft, I’d say that only about 50% of the actual post submissions meet our current quality standards/content strategy.

    Which means that all in we’re currently saying no to around 95 guest post pitches out of 100.

    So, if we have said no to you, then PLEASE don’t take it too personally.

    And of course, that means that if we have published a guest post from you over the past 4 months… then you ROCK dude!

    How You Can Apply This To Your Blog

    Guest posts are great and are something you should absolutely accept on your blog.

    But only when the guest post is top quality.

    Don’t just accept content for content’s sake — especially when the motivation behind it is clearly just to grab a quick backlink for SEO purposes.

    Guest posting has picked up a bit of a bad rep over the past couple of years, but that really shouldn’t be the case. In fact, a good guest post should be a triple win:

    • A win for you: you get a great piece of content that you are proud to post on your blog
    • A win for your readers: the post is something that your readers will get real value from (whatever that value is for your blog)
    • A win for the author: they get to show their expertise in front of your audience and hopefully pick up some new readers

    So, if you get 1,000 words (the new 500 words) of meh…

    then say NO.

    If you get any amount of words of awesomeness say:

    Hell yeah!

    Part 5. We Made Sure All Our Posts Were Properly Optimised

    Well who would have believed it? An SEO blog, from an SEO software company, making sure that their content is SEO optimised.


    What We Did

    Nothing drastic.

    We just made sure that every post had:

    • A short, keyword focused URL (blog/target-keyword/)
    • The target keyword in the title tag (preferably near the start)
    • The target keyword in the post title (and therefore the H1 tag)
    • The target keyword in the meta description (for dem click-throughs)
    • We used the target keyword a couple of times within the post
    • We sometimes used the target keyword in an H2 or H3 tag
    • The featured image generally had a filename like ‘target-keyword.png’
    • We included the target keyword within alt tags where appropriate

    Basically, we tried to keep YOAST happy.


    But never to the detriment of user experience. I would always rather see a red circle there than force something in for SEO purposes.

    We also added internal links to new posts from existing content (and vice versa).

    How You Can Apply This To Your Blog

    Basically, just follow SEO best practices.

    See our recent SEO tips post for over 100 ways to optimise your site.

    Part 6. We Promoted “All The Things”

    If you’ve had an email from us recently asking you to take a look at one of our posts… well, I’m sorry.

    Actually, strike that… I’m not sorry.

    The thing is, if we have sent you an email, then we’ve carefully selected you because we:

    a) genuinely think you’ll be interested in what we have sent your way
    b) think that you are AWESOME

    We’ve not taken this approach to post promotion:


    For each post we sent out a maximum of 20–30 emails to people that we hand picked because we felt they would be likely to share.

    In some cases, this was as simple as reaching out to those we had included in our post:


    And guess what? Most were more than happy to share


    Even though you’ll notice that we didn’t specifically ask them to 😉

    So, email outreach works when you do it right (yay!). Oh, and if you’re wondering how not to do it, then read this.

    How You Can Apply This To Your Blog

    Content without promotion is doomed to failure. Indeed Derek Halpern of Social Triggers — who knows a thing or two about growing a blog — advises spending 20% of your time creating content and the other 80% promoting it:

    It’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more. Or, in other words, create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.
    Derek Halpern, Social Triggers

    Which means that if it takes you a day to write an awesome blog post, then you should spend 4 days promoting it.

    If this seem a bit much, here is a (non exhaustive) list of ways you might promote a new blog post:

    • Share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, G+ etc)
    • Share it on Reddit, (for marketing posts) etc
    • Reach out to anyone included in the post
    • @ Mention sites you included in the post on Twitter
    • Create a prospect list of other influencers who may be interested in the post and reach out to them
    • Follow up on those emails
    • Repurpose the post into a video, blog, slideshare presentation etc
    • Comment on related blogs and mention your post
    • Participate in niche forums and mention your post
    • Answer questions on Quora, Yahoo Answers etc and mention your post
    • Syndicate the post on Medium, Linked In Pulse (or relevant sites in your industry)
    • Contribute guest posts to other blogs and link back to the post

    I’m sure you can think of a few more, and as I’m sure you can see, the time soon adds up.

    But, it’s worth it.

    Part 7. We Fixed Some Technical SEO Stuff

    The final part of our SEO strategy is the boring technical bit. Here are some things we tweaked/fixed and why.

    We Moved House

    The blog had previously been located on a subdomain (

    We decided to move it to a subfolder instead ( as this is accepted SEO best practice and may have a little impact on domain authority/rankings.

    We Fixed Broken Links

    Broken links — both outbound and inbound — are bad news for Google and users.

    We wanted to find them and fix them!

    To find broken inbound links (backlinks), we ran the “Broken Backlinks” report in Ahrefs Site Explorer.


    We then setup 301 redirects using a wordpress plugin called “Redirection


    To find and fix broken outbound links (+ any broken internal links) we used a wordpress plugin called “Broken Link Checker”.


    I guess there’s a few more broken links since we last checked 😉

    We Sped Up The Site

    Speeding up loading time is good for user experience + faster load times correlate with higher rankings.


    So we smushed, compressed, combined and cached, until our load speed reached an acceptable level (although there is still room for improvement).


    Here’s a great guide to speeding up a WordPress blog. For site speed in general (including a free testing tool) check out this awesome resource from

    A Quick Recap On The Full SEO Strategy

    Here’s a quick recap (or a TL;DR version if you like) of the full SEO strategy we implemented on the Ahrefs blog:

    1. We conducted a content audit and removed low quality posts which weren’t bringing in any traffic
    2. We created a 6 month, keyword focused, content strategy
    3. We cut down the post frequency on the blog and focused on quality over quantity
    4. We upped our quality requirements for guest contributors
    5. We made sure all new posts were properly optimised for their target keyword
    6. We promoted all new content heavily
    7. We fixed a number of technical SEO issues

    As I mentioned right at the start, this strategy lead to an 89% increase in organic search traffic within a period of 3 months, with traffic continuing to grow week by week.


    And notwithstanding the actual traffic data from Google Analytics (which is of course the most important metric) we can see a steady rise in the number of organic keywords the blog is ranking for.


    Note that data is only available from December as that’s when we switched to the subfolder from the subdomain.

    As we’re only half way through the first content plan, I would expect to see continued organic growth as we add more articles and target more keywords over the coming months.

    And after that?

    It will be time to create another 6 month plan!


    Over To You!

    If you’re struggling to grow your blog’s organic search traffic, then this SEO strategy can work for you too. It takes careful planning, focus and hard work, but when you start to see that upwards curve in Google Analytics…

    It will all be worthwhile!

    If you have any questions regarding the overall strategy, or any of the individual parts, then please leave a comment below!

    David McSweeney

    David is the owner of Top5SEO and a white hat SEO evangelist. SEO case studies make him a lot happier than they should, and he has a tendency to overuse ellipses...

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    Shows how many different websites are linking to this piece of content. As a general rule, the more websites link to you, the higher you rank in Google.

    Shows estimated monthly search traffic to this article according to Ahrefs data. The actual search traffic (as reported in Google Analytics) is usually 3-5 times bigger.

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    • At

      Really interesting. Although I don’t know if I could go nuclear on a news publishing website…

      • yeah, need to be careful with that one!

      • I guess a better alternative in that case would be to improve internal linking (i.e. reducing the number of clicks it takes to reach an article from the most highly trafficked pages), improve the content on the articles themselves and re-promote them (if appropriate…this approach would probably work better for evergreen content), or archive them (if you really have to keep the articles for whatever reason) and then seal off the archive with a disallow via robots.txt so that Googlebot won’t even bother crawling them. What do you think, David?

    • I am impress too much…Thanks for the idea of the strategy.I should apply this to to my future clients and Suggest to SEO Masters as well.more power ahrefs.

    • MWS

      I learn lots of things from your posts and its really very helpful for us to optimise our blog. I am 100% sure if I follow the SEO strategy for blog optimisation, surely blogs will rank on higher position and generate traffic.

    • Tobias Dean

      I was only talking to a colleague last week about how you guys had really stepped things up over the last few months from a content perspective so it’s great(but not surprising) to see you’re reaping the rewards.

      • thanks a lot, Tobias! many hard decisions were made and like David said, there’s nothing pleasant about saying “no” all the time 🙁

      • thanks Tobias, much appreciated 🙂

    • great stuff guys, very high quality stuff, keep it up

    • seorobothu

      Great advice, Thanx i ll test it and update:)

    • Well nice share,it is complete guide.Many webmasters do one huge mistake…they try to implement only part of campaign and process they find and than just move to other without even analysing anything..just want to jump to final stage…and in most case they jump to offpage SEO…link building..etc
      Well it is important to bring traffic and bots to website but most important is when they came..what they will find?Speed,user experience,html/text ration,how content is optimized with right content and keywords,is content taged properly …One thing most people don’t realise is that CTR and bounce rate is also very important for SERP,junk traffic will negative impact your SERP because of bounce rate…simple if your competitors have lower bounce rate and higher CTR it is right to conclude content on that website is better from user perspective than on website where users just click BACK button.…even on many websites content is good and not problem at all ‚but if site loads slow it will have same result.
      So it is very important to do onpage SEO first or at least in same time.

      • yep, I would expect user signals to become increasingly important to SEO as they are harder (although not impossible) to ‘game’

        • Miloš Milosavljević

          The new share button on google search results is going to be interesting to watch re: SEO
          expecting share bots very soon…

    • Miloš Milosavljević

      That was a very nice, long, instructive, keyword rich and topically relevant post. Thank you 🙂

    • How often Ahrefs updates the information about the domain rating, backlinks, etc etc?

      • as far as I am aware that data is getting updated every day (Ahrefs is constantly crawling the web), but I’ll double check with the technical team 🙂

        • I asked this because some people say that Ahrefs update very quickly only big sites. My website is very small and I waited for almost two months. My Domain Rating is changed only 2 days ago.

    • Interesting Strategy.

    • Nice work.I read it every words ‚dots and commas.Thanks.

    • Wow
      Great blog post
      I will try this strategy
      Thanks for this Information

    • Good article, thanks for sharing your knowledge! Very useful tips.

    • You said no to my draft as well… That made me sad 😉 But now I understand!

    • Nord

      Well, actually for the first time this post was like “Meh~meh~meh~m…Nuclear what?” Now I just in some kind of shock and I just can’t find the correct word for all what you have done. You did great and hard work and show all your progress in step-by-step for. Keep on guys your awesome! Thanks for this treasure 🙂

    • Did

      I started on my previous company blog with deleting huge loads of irrelevant & duplicate content. But I never thouhgt so far that after a few years of lifetime contents should be reviewed and some of them deleted…
      Thx for these explanations!

      • a content audit is definitely something you should be doing periodically to ‘keep the house clean and tidy’

    • Great Golf Deals

      great information but do you think this strategy will apply to a pure e-commerce site?

      • this strategy is more for increasing blog traffic, although many of the same principals apply. You might want to check out my specific ecommerce SEO case study here

        • Great Golf Deals

          Awesome. Great stuff and exactly what i was looking for!

    • miserman

      And.…no Web 2.0?

    • Bridget Holland

      That’s a really interesting post. I’m especially impressed by the approach to creating your keyword strategy. ‘Can we make something better?’ Ties right in with the Google mantra of wanting to direct searchers to the best content — if you don’t think you can win, go play somewhere else where you can win!

      • Absolutely Bridget. One of the biggest mistakes people make in SEO is by starting with the question “how can I rank number 1?” when instead Instead the first question should be “Do I deserve to rank number 1?” If the answer is yes, then you can move on to the “How” question.

    • Thanks for such a nice information…hi David one question…so we give the 80% time for link building for the particular post.. Is there any link quantity to get a rank.

      • Hi Jassi, it really depends on a number of factors: the niche, the competition, the domain authority of your site. You can use Ahrefs batch analysis tool to grab the link data for the top 10 search results at once — that’s a good place to start. Also, bear in mind that the 80% is as much about amplification/shares as link building (more eyes on your content = more links further down the line)

    • lol true 😀

    • Noted your change in weekly frequency and quality and it’s a welcome change 🙂 I skipped the announcement posts anyway. Deleting your older posts was a brave move. Didn’t think if it could impact traffic!

      How did you shortlist the 25 to 30 people whom you emailed for promoting content? I believe you must have an existing relationship with them rather than using tool to find out influencers. And besides getting them to share on social, did you actively build links to new/old content pieces?

      Overall am happy to see your rise in traffic. Onwards and upwards from here!

      • Hi Chintan, that’s almost another article right there in regards to selecting who to target for outreach. It really depends on the content.

        Certainly if you can leverage existing relationships that’s the best place to start — but you don’t want to be emailing the same people every time you publish a post, that would just get annoying.

        I wouldn’t say we have been particularly aggressive in building links, more putting our content in front of the people that can help to amplify it, which leads to links down the line. Although that being said, some proactive link building would give everything a further kick.

        We’ve also tried to include shareable/swipeable media wherever possible too (videos, custom graphics, infographics) and like I said reaching out to the people you mention in the post would certainly be the starting point.

        • Thanks for the insights David 🙂 Keep up the great work!

    • Good article David <3

    • Hey David,

      I never would’ve thought of deleting posts not getting traffic within last 30 days for starters, but it does make a lot of sense, and I have changed directions compared to 2 years ago. One thing I also need to improve is the keyword strategy, and LTP is one popular tool I constantly hear about. Thanks for sharing these in depth tips David! Have a good one!

      • LTP is a great tool and the advanced features give you access to even more useful information (title competition etc). Definitely one for the toolset 🙂

    • Daryl Wathen

      As someone who has read your blog before and after the changes made to y

    • Daryl Wathen

      As someone who has read your blog before and after the changes made to you blog, I have definitely noticed the increase in quality and I must commend the Ahrefs team, I find myself sharing your articles much more lately. Keep it up!

    • Jonathan Prichard


      Excellent article! I’m having some challenges doing the content audit in step 1. I’m guessing this is an issue a lot of your readers will have.

      Here it is:

      We only have around 200 pages on our website. However, when going to behavior/all pages, GA shows 5000 pages.

      Many of these pages don’t really exist. Examples: adwords urls, urls that were typed in incorrectly by the visitor (ex: /suport instead of typing /support)

      I tried using advanced filters (remove “?” , “php”, /old, etc) and have narrowed it down to around 500 pages but I’m wondering if there is a better way to filter out all the garbage that doesn’t really exist.

      I’ve asked Google Analytics support but haven’t had any luck on that front.


      • Hi Jonathan, how many pages is Google showing indexed with a site: command?

        • Jonathan Prichard

          Thanks for your reply! 549 pages. But GA shows 5000+

    • Thank you for great detail. I actually disagree on deleting low performing contents as it seems you are only concentrating on traffic number instead focusing on end user’s needs. There might be a low performing article which also has useful information. Why not create more contents?

    • Rajesh Jhamb

      Awesome write up.

      Great Job

    • Wow! Thank you so much David. It is really help me to reconsider about the seo strategies which I have been applying to my customers.

    • Guillaume Tessier

      Thanks so much for sharing this step by step SEO Strategy guide David!
      This is such a great piece of content even for beginners.
      I’m not sure you said how much time it took you to apply all this? Just to have a rough idea.
      Do you have any idea which changes were the most rewarding? Would you recommend to follow the steps in the same order as you listed them?

    • Rob Mayzes

      Would changing pages to noindex have the same effect as deleting them? Can’t find an answer to this anywhere!

    • heena

      Awesome article.. full of new things which i have learn from this informative artcile.. keep sharing these type of article.
      Thanks a lot.

    • Hi David — great article! So when you deleted the old articles that didn’t have referring domains, you didn’t redirect them? They just became 404 errors?

      Is there a reason you chose to delete them over just redirecting them or unpublishing them? Is it because you wanted to clear your backend of them?

    • Nassim Bojji

      Hey @davidmcsweeney:disqus
      I wonder what their before and after exact traffic numbers were, instead of just the 89% increase. thx!

    • Good job, as usual! 🙂
      Sometimes, less (content) is more (traffic) !

    • Kingori Kariuki Patrick

      While I agree with your article about quality of the posts, I disagree with your keyword research methods. The school of thought about focusing on topics is a strong and a sound argument, and we cannot ignore it in keyword research. My argument is that keyword research should be integrated with topic research. Apparently, a number keywords should form a topic and a number of posts should form definite major topics. Google has developed an algorithm that not only see quality per posts but also how these posts relate with each other to form an outline of well thought-out ideas. My argument is that when your site has properly-managed-content, Google can be able to understand you, thus, assign ton of thousands of keywords that relate to that topic. The approach of targeting 1 keyword is long gone. Even if you target 1 keyword, Google will offer you other related keywords that it thinks are in your topic. Instead of waiting to be understood by Google, we should integrate topics and keywords. Some people have, in fact, moved a step further by developing urls that help crawlers understand content as fast as possible. Whenever I come across such a site as my competitor, I am always aware that I am facing real competition.

    • Does anybody know if Google has changed someting on it’s logarithm from sept30th17?

    • Good tips to everyone. Sure it will give good result. Thank You

    • Very helpful blog post and very informative and gracefully and your guideline is very good. Thanks, I ll tray this my website.

    • seo

      this approach would probably work better for evergreen content), or archive them (if you really have to keep the articles for whatever reason) and then seal off the archive with a disallow via robots.txt so that Googlebot won’t even bother crawling them.

    • Hello David, as per you links are more important, but according to Eric Enge (Stone Temple) content is more important. Just see (the image ) my discussion with him

    • Hello David, as per you links are more important, but according to Eric Enge (Stone Temple) content is more important. Just see my discussion with him