Link building is relationship building

Seomphony - Backlinks - Photo by Emre Karatas

Link building refers to the creation of backlinks = links pointing to your site from elsewhere on the internet.

Backlinks are a form of off-page SEO. Off-page SEO, in turn, refers to search engine optimization. SEO consists of building quality signals for Google to determine the relevance and quality of your website and its pages.

Those signals include links from other websites that point back to your website. People sharing your content on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social networks also work as backlinks.

Indeed, even though this research has found that “backlinks no longer primarily determine search engine rankings”, a handful of quality backlinks will benefit your website much more than a thousand social shares.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks, also known as incoming links, are simply links from websites that point at your own website or web page from another website. Backlinks are used as quality signals by Google.

Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B.

The more votes (backlinks) your website/pages receive has a large influence on your website’s search engine ranking, popularity, and importance. However, not all backlinks are equal: some carry more weight than others.

Understanding Google PageRank

PageRank is Google’s link analysis algorithm, named after one of Google’s co-founders Larry Page. It assigns a numerical weighting (from 0 to 10) to pages on the web based on hundreds of different signals. Don’t confuse PageRank with your search ranking positions, it’s not the same. PageRank (PR) is simply a means of identifying a page’s relevance, quality, importance, and authority. The higher the PR number of a page, the more authority that page carries.

Backlinks from web pages with high PR, preferably higher than the PR of your own website are the most beneficial for your website. One backlink from a PR3 page is worth thousands of PR1 page backlinks. But often the higher the PR, the harder the links are to obtain.

Backlinks and anchor text

Anchor text is one of the most powerful SEO signals. It provides a message to Google regarding the content of a page. For example, if your website sells red widgets and the backlinks pointing at your website’s pages include red widgets’ in the anchor text, then this is a vote from another website that is independent to yours that says: “this website is all about red widgets”.

In turn, Google increases the visibility of your page in the search results, because if users are searching for red widgets, this is what Google wants to give them.

However, you should not abuse the use of anchor texts, because it will not improve your rankings. It would instead land your site with a penalty for trying to manipulate the search results.

When building links, it needs to look natural. The should be built, or they should look like having been built by people genuinely linking to your website, and not by you building them yourself or buying them.

For example: if one hundred people linked to your website about red widgets, it’s highly unlikely that they would all choose to use the same anchor text. Examples of anchor text used might include: “click here”, “cheap red widgets”, “Bob’s red widgets”, “awesome widgets” etc.

So, if you are building links, it is very important to use different anchor text for your backlinks.

Follow and nofollow backlinks

Adding “nofollow” to the links of pages that you link out to is like saying that you don’t want to give your vote to this page, although you are still happy to link to it. So if someone links to a page on your website but adds the “nofollow” attribute, then you will not benefit from this, at least not as much as you would if they left off the “nofollow” attribute which means it’s a dofollow link.

It is good to have a mix of both nofollow and dofollow backlinks. This looks a lot more natural than if all links were to be dofollow. However, the number of nofollow links that are pointing at your site are generally significantly lower than dofollow, often only 10% of total links.

How and where to obtain backlinks

If you follow Google’s advice to obtain backlinks, then they basically just say that if you create amazing content the backlinks will come automatically. This, however, is rarely the case, and you are going to have to go out there and build them yourself if you want your site to rank well.

Ideally, you will want to obtain backlinks from high-quality websites, and also websites that are in a similar niche to your own. But there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different places on the web where you can potentially get backlinks from, some of these include: other websites, blogs, forum profiles/signatures, directories, comments, social bookmarking, YouTube etc…

Anyway, you can search for page ranking services with this search.

Checking your competitors’ backlinks

One of the best ways to discover where to try and obtain backlinks from is directly from your competitors. You simply look at their own backlink profiles to see where they are getting their links from, then try to duplicate them for your own site.

There are a number of tools available that do exactly this for you, and a whole lot more. Majestic, Ahrefs and Moz’s Open Site Explorer are the big three. These are paid services, but they also provide a limited free version which can still prove very useful.

Build backlinks slowly and avoid spam

So, it’s important that everything looks as natural as possible when building backlinks. If you have a new website with a clean backlink profile and you build thousands of links in a very short time, this will raise a red flag or two with Google that may result in a penalty.

Also, you should never consider buying backlinks from people offering link building services. These will do your website more harm than good. If it’s very easy to obtain, then it’s unlikely going to be a good quality link. You should check every single link that you build, and always ensure that you have the possibility to update or remove the links if you need to in the future.

Keep track of backlinks

It’s important to keep track of the backlinks that you build because doing so will allow you to easily carry out a backlink audit if your rankings suddenly drop. You can then find the offending link and remove it. We recommend creating a spreadsheet that contains all of your links, including the date obtained, the PageRank of the page they are on, anchor text, and a contact to update or remove the link.

Actively monitoring your backlinks will also allow you to spot if your competitors are performing what’s called negative SEO. This is basically building lots of spammy links to your website that can potentially result in a penalty for you.

Finally, if you try to remove links that you believe are harming your site, but for whatever reason are unable to, then the Google disavow tool can be used to disavow these links.

Backlinks library: our top 10 articles

Why re-invent the wheel when there are so many great articles out there about backlink building? Check out these backlink building articles from the industry’s leading experts.


Link building guide for beginners.

The author claims this is the most complete list of link building tactics on the Web. It certainly is comprehensive and includes actionable items that you can execute right now as well as others that take several weeks to complete. A good guide to start off with.

A short guide to 6 ways to build backlinks

8 actionable ways to get backlinks by spying on your competitors

The first article in a series about actionable link building tactics

Five basic link building tactics


8 myths about link building, deconstructed

Fractl combed through the 26000 links they built over the years and found out that high Domain Authority sites don’t necessarily attract a lot of social engagement, most sites don’t consistently use the same types of links and certain publisher verticals are more likely to feature a lot of visual assets. and

Two very long articles about link building, the smart way.

17 link building strategies

Brian Dean’s “the most comprehensive guide to backlinks on the planet”

Web analytics visualizes the behavior of your customers

Web analytics by Seomphony - Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Web analytics means the measurement, collection, reporting, and analysis of your website visitor behavior data in order to understand and optimize their visits for a better experience.

You can use the findings for

  • market research
  • assessing and improving the effectiveness of your website and
  • measuring the results of an advertising campaign by helping to estimate how traffic to a website changed after the launch of the new campaign.

Typically, web analytics provides information about

  • The number of people that visited the site
  • Their location, device, operating system and language used
  • How they spend time on the site and where exactly
  • The pages that were the most preferred within the site
  • The number of clicks that was required to reach the desired information
  • The rate of a goal completion

Through analysis of such information, it is possible to understand the needs of the users of the website and therefore to provide content that is relevant to the users.

This is especially important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is the use of specific keywords that makes a website more likely to appear among the top search results when someone types these keywords into a search engine such as Google.

Google Analytics and Open Web Analytics are examples of web analytics tools that can be used to track the traffic of a website.

Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights and Buffer, on the other hand, can be used to analyze social media channel traffic specifically.

Web analytics versus goals

The web analytics data should always be used to measure the goals of your website.

For instance, if the objective of a web page is to convert visitors to newsletter subscribers, the analytics would highlight this by showing how many completed this task, and which pages they used to arrive to the actual subscription page.

Web analytics also enable the management of eCommerce sites to determine how many people visited the site in general, what were the most popular products on the site based on the number of visits or clicks, what was the average age of the visitors to the page, and many other demographical information of these visitors.

Types of web analytics techniques

There are generally three main types of web analytics based mainly on the scope of the data being collected:

On-site analytics

On-site web analytics tools are generally designed to measure the various variables of web users once they log in into the specific website under analysis.

Therefore, this type of web analytics can be seen as being internal and focused on the data once a user logs into a specific website.

Off-site analytics

This refers to analytical tools that provide the general analysis of the users of the internet.

In this case, these tools provide an analysis of website usage despite the fact that you own the website or not.

This is generally important especially while the owner of a website is targeting a particular market niche or target group in the internet. It helps researchers to identify potential opportunities and the general trend of internet users.

How do web analytics tools access information from a website?

There are generally two ways:

Analysis of log files

Web servers always create a log of all the interactions of the page. Web analytics can read these interactions and get the specific data required for the analysis.

Usually, web analytics tools capture the number of request to the server by clients to view the pages of the websites. This method of access to web analytics information was effective in the past when webpages consisted of simple HTML files. However, when images and other media files became integrated into webpage codes this system was deemed ineffective.

Page tagging

This is the other way that web analytics pages gather necessary data for analysis. Page tagging generally involves monitoring the number of times an image was displayed using JavaScript and cookies.

JavaScript is used while displaying images and other media files on a page and can be accessed remotely by the various web analytics tools in the market. Page tagging is more preferable in current web analytics tools due to the dynamic and highly multiplatform nature of websites that include HTML, JavaScript, PHP, Python and other software; and also the fact that websites also comprise of a wide range of images, audio and video files.


This refers to tools that incorporate both page tagging and log files as sources for data. This is a more robust and accurate method of carrying out web analytics since it taps into the advantages presented by both methods of data access.

Other methods of data analysis

Click analytics: by monitoring the number of clicks and the specific pages, links, images or content within a website, the web analytics tools is able to identify a certain aspect of the webpage usage. Moreover, this type of analytics enables for a real-time analysis of the user behavior and in the long terms be able to determine certain meaningful behaviors of the customers.

Internet Protocol address: IP address can be used to determine the location of the various users who log into a website. This can provide important information concerning the countries, regions, cities and postcode of the visitors of a website and therefore help in creating the demographics that are critical in web analytics.

Customer behavior analytics: this type of analysis ties all the various aspects of the analysis such as the number of clicks, page views, IP addresses to a particular customer. When these customers visit the web again, a cycle is developed and analyzed. This helps in understanding the needs of the customers, web optimization and funnel marketing strategies.

Advantages of web analytics

Marketing: One of the most expensive costs for any organization is marketing. Running advertisements on mainstream media is expensive and therefore all effort must be put in place to ensure that marketing ventures are as effective as possible. The only way to have effective marketing strategies is by having accurate and relevant information about the target audience. Web analytics provides information about the target audience and therefore enhances the marketing process.

Web analytics also provides an analysis of other companies or organizations providing the same services. Therefore, the management is able to compare and learn from the experiences of other market players and formulate strategies that are best suited for best results.

Knowing one’s customers is also another advantage of web analytics. Once the management is aware of the preferences and needs of their customers, they can align their production goals to those of the customers and be able to make more profit.

Web analytics provides insights that indicate the areas that the organization is not performing well and therefore provide an opportunity to make the necessary corrections.

Through web analytics, the management is able to forecast based on current trends. This is helpful in aligning organizational change to impending shifts in business and also minimizing future risks to the organization.

Web analytics enables management to identify key performance indicators that can be used to monitor and evaluate the general performance of the organization. For instance, key indicators can include data such as the number of new customers, amount of revenue generated, losses incurred, and the number of items sold online. These performance indicators can be evaluated in relations to the goals and objectives of the organization.

Web analytics terminology

Visitor: refers to an individual user that logs in to a website. However, there are other codes that access a page and it is imperative that a web analytics tools establishes that the visitor is actually human. Some web pages have verification codes to ascertain that a visitor is actually a person.

Session: refers to the duration that a visitor spends on the website in question. It reflects the entire period from the time the visitor logged into the website to the time he/she logged out.

Page View: this refers to a successful request made by the visitor to view a web page from the server. A page view does not count the other elements on the page such as images or content but counts the entire page as a single view.

Hits: refers to the successful request of an element of the web page such as an image from the server. Mostly, many managers place a lot of importance to the number of hits, however, most I experts in web analytics agree that hits are not as valuable in terms of determining the success or otherwise of a website. The reason for this is based on the fact that a lot of hits can be generated from a single webpage and this undermines the actual popularity of the website. Page views are a more preferred aspect of determining the performance of a website.

Session summary: provides a summary of the activities of the various visitors of a website. The information provided includes total sessions, total page views, total hits and the average of these various pieces of data.

Referrals: refers to the geographical information about the main source of traffic to the websites and also traffic that was generated from other websites. For instance, the web analytical website can indicate that 20% of traffic to the website was from Google Search.

Keywords: web analytics also provides a report detailing the most used keywords in relation to the Meta tags used by your website. This is very important since it provides the owners of the website to align their keywords with that most commonly used by search engines and therefore generate more traffic to the website.

Keyword searches: This is a report provided by website analytics sites outlining the actual keywords that were used by users to get referred to the website. This report includes all search engines that the customers used.

Top entry page: refers to the first page that was viewed by customers. It is not always that the home page of a website is the one viewed first. Web analytics provides data on the number of top entrances in ascending or descending order. This is critical in determining which pages on the website were most appealing to the customers.

Web analytics is a must

Web analytics is crucial to ensure the success of web-based business and organizations.

Web analytics is a tool that enables the website experience to be driven by information and therefore to become more enhanced.

Operating a website without web analytics is like driving with your eyes closed, so get yours activated today.

Keyword research identifies the terms you should associate your brand with

Seopmhony - Keyword Research - Photo by Jon Tyson

Keyword research is one of the most critical stages of your inbound marketing journey.

Fail this one and you’ll be creating content for keywords that do not match with what your actual and potential customers are looking for.

Do keyword research right and you’ll have an actual chance to meet the needs of your customers.

Now, this is not rocket science, but you have to be systematic.

That’s why we’ve created a three-step method of our own, which consists of

  • Brainstorming,
  • Valuation and
  • Selection.

We’ve come up with this keyword research method by having read tons of articles by the leading SEO experts and having tested the ideas in our client projects ourselves. In our method,

  • You first produce a long list of Keyword Ideas,
  • Then you evaluate the usefulness of each one
  • And select the ones that are the most useful for your purposes.

The first part is about creativity, not criticism. Just list down whatever you think may serve your purpose and move on. The weeding out part comes in evaluation phase and there you instead should be ruthless.

So let’s dive in.


To start with, think about your Buyer Personas: who are they, what do they regularly look for and which words and phrases do they use to look for that information?

In short,

  • The Expert type of persona performs general types of searches,
  • While his Manager usually wants product details for comparison.
  • The Top Management, instead, is interested in the long-term investment-related content.

You may have your industry-specific variations of these personas, but whoever they are, the different personas will use different keywords to search for things. When you take a look at your Buyer Persona document, you should already see a few ideas there.

Types of search intent

Now, the first thing to focus on is the search intent. Traditionally (although that is changing), three main search intents have been recognized:

  • Navigational
  • Informational, and
  • Transactional.

Navigational intent is about the user wanting to end up on a website, but not necessarily to buy or know anything.

Informational intent is about the user wanting to know something specific about the keyword he’s using in the search (for example: “what is <keyword>”, or “how to <keyword>”).

Transactional is about the user wanting to interact with something related to the keyword, e.g. register, download or buy.

In this article, we mainly focus on the buying intent.

Keywords for the two other intents should also be researched, but our first focus here is about the buying intent.

Core terms and modifiers

To begin the actual research, take those first transactional ideas as core terms (or seed terms or head terms). 

The core terms are also keywords that look obvious: that you may want to rank at #1, but you know that too many sites already share the same desire so competing with them may not be feasible at all.

That’s why you should add modifiers.

These are associated with your core terms and they make up longer phrases that are usually easier to rank for (because not as many sites want to compete with you for those rankings).

For example, if a British client was interested in video production services,

  • The keyword research could begin with “video production” as a core term. Even ”video” only might be interesting to look at just to see what all the topics are that are associated just with the word “video”. At this stage the intent is only navigational: the user wants to end up on a specific site and get information.
  • Since the persona here is interested in specific services in a specific geographical area, it makes sense to set “video production” as the core term and persona-specific modifiers to create the initial list. For example
    • the Expert in that company might be looking for “video production company in London”,
    • his Manager might be interested in “video production rates in the UK” and
    • the Top Management probably wants to hear about “video marketing ROI (or return on investment)” as compiled by specific research and/or consulting organizations throughout the globe.

Finally: you can, of course, use your imagination to come up with the persona specific keyword ideas, but rather than assuming, just ask your customers directly to verify your own thoughts. What words did they use when they first landed on your site?

Now, open a spreadsheet and note these Buyer Persona specific core term plus modifier combos down as Keyword Ideas (KI:s). Do it by persona, so

  • in the first column, note the persona name
  • and in the second column the keyword idea.
  • Put different keywords in separate rows.
  • Third, create a “Status” column and earmark each keyword as an “idea”
Harri Alatalo - Keyword Idea List

Then, check your website analytics: which pages are the most popular? Are there any words that appear in the titles or addresses of the pages that look like keywords? Add them to the KI list with “Analytics” as the Source.

Put your KIs in and check what synonyms are related to each. Pick the most relevant and note “Thesaurus” as the Source.

Put each of the KIs in Google, scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says “Searches related to <your keyword>”. This is a very important one because compared to just plain ideas and synonyms, related searches are ones that Google users have actually performed. Check what’s behind each related search by clicking on each link and pick the ones that display results among which you would like to rank.

Long Tail Keywords

(The reason that I’m seeing the monthly volume and the Pay Per Click rate here is that I’m using Chrome and a plugin called “Keywords Everywhere”)

Go to Wikipedia and search for articles with your keywords. The “Contents” section may already give you another set of ideas, but do check out the whole page and its sections.

Wikipedia IKIs

Think about what internet forums might be relevant for your purposes. Some of the global ones include Reddit and Quora. Also, you may find your industry-specific forums by searching for “<your keyword> discussion forum”. If you are operating locally, do a similar search with your native language.

In the forum, do a keyword research and consider how the topic is being addressed in the results. It’s important to understand what choice of words people are actually making when discussing your type of services and products.

Finally, browse through the categories and consider using some of the words and word pairs being used in the thread headlines.

Reddit IKIs

Next, go to and paste your (selected) words in the search box and hit the “Start job” button. This one’s really abundant so first try with one keyword only and see what it comes up with, and then give it a go with word pairs and groups.

Finally, you may want to try out some of the professional keyword research tools out there. Those include Semrush, Ahrefs and Keyword Explorer, which will all produce you very informative results. They basically behave in a similar fashion, i.e. they find you variations of your keyword ideas.

The second good thing is that they also immediately display a monthly keyword search volume, competition, difficulty, opportunity or another attribute, which you can all copy-paste or export-import to your list.

If you decide to use them, keep two things in mind:

  • Their data samples are different. This means that you may get different results for the same keywords from different tools. That’s why you should check out at least a few tools to see their results variation.
  • There may not be a free version available or if there is, the free version only allows you to perform a few research rounds per day. The paid plans, in turn, start from around 100 euros a month, though you might want to first test their free trials.

By the end of this phase you will have a long list of KI:s to choose from and it’s time to narrow them down.

Before proceeding, however, remove the duplicates by using the “Remove Duplicates” function in your spreadsheet.


Now is the time to evaluate, valuate, criticize, prune and debate. By the end of this phase, you should have a short list of a few dozen or so keywords to choose from your final list.

First, review the list and change the status to “Exclude” for the ones that you definitely know are not appropriate for your purposes. Filter them out and continue with the rest.

Next, add a column called “Volume“. To get the figures, create an account (unless you already have one) in Google Keyword Planner.

If this is your first time using GKP or you have no Google ad running, a red bar will appear on the top of the page. This can be ignored. It’s just Google’s way of encouraging you to spend money on it.

Click on “Get search volume data and trends“, paste the keyword idea list in the search field, hit the “Get search volume” and copy-paste the range figure from the “Avg. monthly searches” in your “Volume” column. There is also a Download button if you want to export the information.

Google Keyword Planner - Get search volume

Alternatively, you can outsource the whole phase to a virtual assistant, because admittedly this is very labor intensive.

I can recommend Virtuaaliassistentit in Finland. Submit your query through their contact form or chat or let me know and I’ll have their representative contact you.

Next, add a “Difficulty” column. This one shows you how difficult or easy it is to rank for each keyword. The closer the value is to zero, the easier it is to rank higher than your competitors.

To get the values, head to Moz’s Keyword Explorer and paste your keywords into the search fields.

Harri Alatalo - Moz Keyword Explorer

Here, there’s a catch: Keyword Explorer only allows you to perform a few searches per day for free. So, unless you do not want to pay, this phase will take some time. Alternatively, this is another reason to outsource the work to a virtual assistant.

Third, research the Click Through Rate. You can get this also from Keyword Explorer as it is indicated by their Opportunity value. Here, the higher the value is to 100, the easier it is to get traffic.

Finally, on your own, record your own “Importance“. Regardless of what the tools say, you know your industry and your customers the best, which is why you may also know those keywords that work or don’t.

It’s up to you what grading you want to use (1-2 or 1-3-9 or 25-50-75-100) as long as you give appropriate weight to each keyword.

By now, you list should begin to look like this:

Harri Alatalo - Keyword Selection


Now it’s time to choose. There are different methods here.

First, by using the spreadsheet filters, identify your HLSI keywords. They are those that are often looked for (High volume), where difficulty is Low, that have a Strong CTR opportunity, and that are Important for you.

Try to find at least one per persona, so you have an actual keyword to address them with.

Then, you should strive to identify at least a few per each of your Customer Journey phase.

First, pick those that associate your products, services or organization with what people look for early on in their Customer Journey.

Here, they are just starting to look around, finding information, but have no intention to buy yet. These keywords are more informational and navigational, i.e. they point the user to a direction, but will not result in a purchase.

In our example, an Expert might get online and look for “video production companies in <target area>”, “best video marketing campaigns of <previous year> or “how to buy video production services”.

Then, strive to identify whether any of the keywords are related to the consideration phase, where the customer wants to compare his options. These should be the same or similar to your competitors’ keywords so that the customer can compare apples to apples.

Third, consider which are the ones meant for conversions. These are the closest to making a sale or ones which people use to actually buy something up front.

In our “video production” example, they might be cameras, their accessories or research reports that people want to buy from research organizations to organize their buying process or to evaluate their ROI afterward. Pick the ones where your offerings actually meet a purchase intent.

Decision phase keywords are usually related to your specific product or service offerings. The monthly volume might be small, but these are strong candidates to consider because if a customer happens to use them, it means he/she is checking out whether you specifically have an offer, a trial, demo or similar available.

Thus, you could use them for example on a landing page. They might also be ones, where the core term is your or your organization’s name plus a modifier, for example, “feedback about <your company>” or “<your service> experiences”. People love social proof and these might lead the visitor to your testimonials (I hope you have one!) or Facebook page.

Fourth, you might also want to factor in a certain type of well-known industry individuals, who have a strong online presence and who you may want to influence. These are thought leaders, influencers and star performers in your global and/or local industry. They may recommend services and products out of free will or have an agreement with one of the suppliers or an affiliate program that brings them advertising income. They may use specific language and use a certain choice of words to express themselves.

The influencer section also includes the related competitions in your field where your colleagues, competitors and other experts participate. They have a “language” of their own, which may include some of your keywords. The competition organizers are an interesting reference, because their events generate a lot of traffic through their website and in social media. By using the same keywords you can “join” that traffic.

If you still have several options left, you can consider the Purpose.

Head keywords: these are the ones that work well in a headline. They are usually single-word keywords with huge search volume, like “videos” or “services”. Due to the volume, they rarely convert well, but you absolutely need to use them in your content headlines.

Body keywords: these are the 2-3 word combinations that are more specific and convert better, such as “video production” and “service processes”.

Long Tail Keywords: these are the ones you found through Google’s Related Searches, but they are also the longer phrases you may want to pick from your long list of ideas. An LTK might be “video production rates in London” and “service process maturity level definitions”.

While you work on your keyword research list, keep changing the “Status” value for which you set a column in the beginning. Leave ideas as “Idea”:s, and label serious candidates with e.g. “Consider” and the final selections as “Agreed”, or whatever values work for you.

Last: increase relevance

PHEW! So that’s our keyword research method.

Now all you really have left to do is to either

  1. Optimize your existing pages to match the newly selected keywords or
  2. Create new content that matches the keywords you do not yet rank for.

The optimization instructions are available in here.

All right. For more information about Keyword Research, you can read this How-to article, this Step-by-step video by Moz or this article by Brian Dean that gets you even deeper into the details.

Buyer Persona i.e. the one you want to sell to

Seomphony - Buyer Persona - Photo by Fahri Ramdani

The justification for creating Buyer Personas is that you do not want to market and sell to the whole world because that is a waste of your resources.

Instead, you want to know who exactly is your ideal customer  – the ones that are the most receptive to your products and services right now. Those people you can describe as Buyer Personas.

Persona-based marketing may seriously boost your metrics. For example, Marketing Sherpa reports that Persona-based websites have seen 210% increase in website traffic, 97% increase in website generated leads, 124% increase in website generated sales.

Here’s the homework:

Buyer Persona in practice

The Buyer Persona is a document, where you record the characteristics of your ideal customer. If you have several different ideal customer types, you need one for each persona.

The information should include things such as age, title, position objectives, his/her superior and subordinates, but also how he/she behaves when he/she buys and makes decisions, and especially where he/she goes to look for information.

Typical buyer personas include the Expert, The Superior, and The Top Management, but you may very well have your business specific variations of these.

The buyer persona is an imaginary character because it sums up the characteristics of a group of people into one, and as such it generalizes human behavior.

However, it definitely must be based on researched facts about the group (and not on beliefs, assumptions or opinions). Thus, the document describes your typical, real customer. Further, when you want to address new, potential customers, you need to create a separate buyer persona for each of them and plan your marketing activities with them in mind.

Create the buyer persona from actual customer data

Record the basics

A well-documented buyer persona is not just a list of characteristics but reveals the way of thinking of the persona, the way they want to develop their work and make decisions. At the minimum, include the following:

  • His/her title, his superior’s title and the titles of his subordinates
  • The industry he’s working in and the size of the organization
  • His responsibilities, objectives, measures of success and typical challenges at work
  • How and from where does he gather information to support decision making
  • How does he communicate to other when he’s promoting his ideas
  • Add an imaginary name and picture for the persona
  • Include actual customer testimonials, because they make the persona come alive through feedback that you know someone actually gave.
  • You can find additional questions to ask in here and here.

Base the buyer persona on actual customer data

You can do your first buyer persona exercise on the fly, but as soon as you can, you need to adjust it with facts. You will get these or example from

  • market research
  • researching your own customer database
  • by interviewing your customers
  • from customer feedback
  • by observing your customers’ behavior

How does he/she make decisions?

Take a step further and describe how he makes decisions. You’ll get valuable insight for the persona when you interview your real customers, such as

  • His priorities: is your product or service among the first to be acquired or is your turn after something else?
  • Success factors: what does the customer hope to achieve by buying your product or service?
  • Challenges: why does the customer not see your product or service as his best choice?
  • The customer journey: has he just started looking for information, is he comparing options or is he only missing one last piece of information so that he can decide?
  • What are the criteria based on which he’ll buy? Who’ll make the buying decision?
  • Describe the channel, the messages and the tone of voice needed to address each buyer persona. The Expert, The Superior and The Top Management all have distinct styles.

A complete buyer persona helps you deliver the right message to the right people

When you have perfected your buyer persona, you will be able to conclude

  • Who you still need to talk to
  • What information they are still looking or
  • When is the right time to deliver the information and in what format, and
  • What kind of arguments do you need to justify your message with?

Tools for creating buyer personas

You can first read this article by Contentools about buyer personas.

Here is also a very thorough introduction by Moosend to buyer personas and their creation.

You can then document your first buyer persona just with a simple text editor by brainstorming with your colleagues, no fancy tools are really needed.

However, by HubSpot is available, which will guide you step by step and produce a simple persona based on the answers you give. Or, use my template to record details in whichever order you want.

You may want to incorporate online surveys into your processes to gather persona data regularly.

You can also read a more in-depth example buyer persona in here, view an infographic about the BP content requirements and download a buyer persona template, all by the Buyer Persona Institute.

SEO i.e. how to make your content serve your customer intent?

Seomphony - SEO - Photo by Jacob Morch

SEO, i.e. Search Engine Optimization, is about creating web pages that are favorable to search engine evaluations.

Technically, what the search engines want to know is what your site and pages are about.

This is needed so that the engines can display the most valuable pages to people when they search for information.

So ultimately, SEO serves the search intent of your actual and potential customers.

For example, if your page is about cast iron frying pans, you, of course, write about cast iron frying pans in the page copy.

But in SEO you don’t leave it at that.

You need to know what places exactly do the search engines check when analyzing your site, and make sure “cast iron frying pans” is mentioned in all of those places.

If you do this well, your site will have chances to rank high on their search results page (SERP).

I say “will”, because several other factors affect ranking, too. The rules also change several times a year so you need to make SEO a continuous activity.

Here’s a good summary of SEO basics:

How to start with SEO?

The actual optimization begins by identifying the keywords that the people you want to attract to your site actually use, and then adjusting your website to match those keywords.

You can increase this relevance by doing technical, on-page and off-page SEO improvements.

That is the basic level.

On a level that actually makes a difference nowadays, you need to deliver real value continuously to your customers. You also need to build digital relationships i.e. links between your site and other quality sites. They, in turn increase your Domain Authority.

Not convinced? Consider this:

If not for anything else, then do SEO to stand out just due to this sheer volume, because there is a lot of noise out there and you want your signal to be heard.

Search engine optimization is mostly optimizing for Google

Although both Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and the rest all have their internal search functionalities, optimizing a web page is in practice optimizing for Google, because it is the most popular search engine in the western world.

And when you optimize, you need to take into account Google’s algorithm, the set of rules they use to valuate a site.

Rather than taking it as an annoyance, do consider the algorithm as your friend, because it also makes sure that when you search for cast iron frying pans, your search results will include links to websites about cast iron frying pans and not cat videos.

For the same reason, the most popular results appear at the top of the list and the less relevant on the following pages. This usually means that the ones appearing at the top have done their SEO and the others have not.

The search result page (SERP) of Google consists of the advertisements at the top and the so-called organic results below them.

You can buy advertisement space at the top as a temporary means to increase your visibility, but you have no business among the top organic search results unless you keep doing your SEO. SEO affects especially these organic results.

Next: the rules affecting ranking keep changing. What you see at any given time is a snapshot of the current situation. Today, there are over two hundred major ranking signals and they keep changing.

Meanwhile, Google itself is getting increasingly sophisticated in understanding the overall context of a page. This has caused more pages to rank among the top search results without, for example, the target keyword mentioned in the content. This means that you no longer have to obsess about exact match keyword usage in every single SEO element if you can manage your context.

Still, until you yourself have proven facts (through your analytics) that an element has an impact on your ranking or it doesn’t, my suggestion is to follow the basic SEO rules and then start testing them one by one to see what makes a difference in your case. Each audience is different.

Finally, SEO does pay off, because reaching a position in the top ten results guarantees a 90% probability for the users to click on the link to your site while the top three get 61% of all the attention.

And now for the actual stuff.

On-page SEO

Content title

  • It may sound obvious, but create a page title that describes the page content. Take no artistic freedoms here. One day, Google’s artificial intelligence will be able to interpret sarcasm, poetry, and meaning in high context cultures. Until that, keep it simple.
  • Place your target keyword at the beginning of the title or as close to the beginning as possible. This is important due to the SEO rules, but also because humans skim internet content in a so-called F-pattern, where the top left area of the screen gets the most attention.
  • Keep the title length between six words or 150 characters. This is the amount that Google shows in its search results page.
  • Make sure the title is in between the H1 tags.


  • Clear content structure: title, paragraph, level 2 headline, another paragraph, CTA, conclusion, another CTA is the rough pattern here.
  • Your target keyword among the first 100 words.
  • You may have heard about an optimal keyword density, but as long as you keep the text flowing naturally, you don’t need to do keyword stuffing or calculate the keyword frequencies.
  • Longer content tends to be better. For example, according to this research, the average length of the best articles out there is nowadays approaching 2000 words. If that sounds like a lot, you can very well start with 500 and keep increasing the length later. But it really depends on the keywords, industry and your audience.


  • Pages with images in them tend to rank higher than those without.
  • However, more pictures does not automatically equal better ranking. Valuable content dictates success.
  • Make sure you have your target keyword in the image ALT text. This is because the search engines do not yet understand image contents well so the ALT text tells them what the image is about.

Brian explains on-page SEO well in his video:

Off-page SEO

Page address (URL)

  • Avoid these: and Content management system IDs and other fluff do not help here.
  • is the best format.

Title tag

  • The title is the blue link and text that Google shows about your article or page in its search results. The title is also shown in the tab names when several browser tabs are open.
  • You can help the reader decide whether your page is what he/she is looking for by creating titles that are to the point.


  • Google shows the Description of your page in the description section in its search results. Together with the title and address, the Description is the three elements that help the reader to decide whether your page is what he/she is looking for. That’s why keep all of them very informative. You can simulate all of them with
  • Keep the Description between 115 and 155 characters (due to mobile and other device limitations).
  • If you manage your website with a content management system (e.g. Squarespace or WordPress), you may not be able to edit the three elements directly. But, for example in WordPress there is a very handy plugin called Yoast SEO that guides you in creating optimal titles, addresses and Descriptions.

Links from other pages

  • Now, this is one of the factors really making a difference in today’s SEO. It means the number and quality of the links pointing to your site and to your pages from other internet pages.
  • You can strive to create a lot of links, but even one link from a high quality (=with a high domain authority) can bring you a lot of valuable traffic.
  • You can create links for example by guest blogging, but the best method for link creation is to simply create great content that people will want to link to. What is great really depends on your industry and your specific audience.

Loading speed

  • The page and site loading speeds are related to the general usability of your content. Other factors include typography, visual imagery, overall design, and navigation. The speed is one of the most important SEO factors because the human attention span has decreased to eight seconds due to the usage of the modern digital devices.
  • You can check your site speed for example with GTMetrix. They produce a very detailed and free report that you can use to improve your site’s performance.

Local SEO

  • If you are operating in a specific geographical area, it really pays off to complete Google’s local SEO process.

CTR (Click through rate)

  • CTR is a measure that tells you how many people that saw your content clicked the page link. By improving your CTR, you can significantly improve your site ranking.
  • You can improve your CTR by writing better and more informative page titles and Descriptions and by using certain expressions in them. Here’s a list of things that you can check out:

Bounce rate

  • Even if your CTR is high, it does not automatically mean a high ranking. The reason might be your high bounce rate. BR is the number of people that left your site or page immediately (=after less than thirty seconds) after landing on it (out of all people that visited your site per month).
  • There might be several reasons for a high bounce rate, but most often it is because your content did not match what the visitor was looking for (=their search intent). That might be, because your Title, URL, and Description were not really informative or did not match what your page was about.
  • You can decrease your bounce rate by creating longer content. Another great tool is video. Both of these keep users engaged longer than great design or short articles.

SEO in short

The following picture describes in a nutshell what SEO is about (thank you Moz for the idea!). In short

  1. Choose the keyword
  2. Include it in the Title
  3. Include it in the URL
  4. Begin the first chapter with the keyword, or, at least, include it within the first 100 words.
  5. Add the keyword in the image “ALT” tag
SEO principles

The best SEO articles

Ok, those are the very basics of SEO.

I’m not even attempting to beat the best articles out there and have instead listed them below.

SEO basics

A very thorough, 16-chapter package by Search Engine Land about all things SEO. Read it to get started.

A 205-point list of elements affecting Google ranking:

On-page SEO

A thorough article by Ahrefs providing original research about keyword dependent SEO (including keyword in domain name, URL, Title, Meta Description, Headline, Subheading, Content, in the first 100 words and in image ALT tags), general on-page SEO (age of the page, HTTP vs HTTPS, page load time, content length, URL length, outbound links, broken links and social shares) as well as relevance & exact match keyword optimization.

Off-page SEO

A 21-point list of actions you can take elsewhere to optimize your page. These include posting stuff and engaging people on other sites, forums and social media.

Other proven techniques

A 16-point How-to type of article including most of what Ahrefs discussed plus a few more. The page begins with a nice infographic about on-page SEO factors that you can use as a checklist.

Another 200-point list of changes by Ahrefs that you can implement right now to start getting results.

A list of 22 technical, on-page and off-page techniques by Styla to optimize a page.

Two long, but very actionable lists by Brian Dean about advanced SEO techniques: one and two.

A long article by Matthew Barby about various SEO techniques.

Not convinced? There are opposing views to SEO, indeed

You need to deserve a high ranking, not perform tips and tricks to get poor content up there. I agree. Overpromising and underdelivering will only increase your bounce rate when they realize your content is in the wrong company.

Google is optimizing for users. That includes you, too. That’s why, SEO must be about optimizing your presence across the web for where the users are. So, understand first who your target audience is and where they spend their time, then optimize for those platforms and build organic presence.

How to measure SEO success

Planning to embark on an SEO journey? Great! Set a goal first. Here are some ideas:

Not the rank only

A simplistic way to measure SEO success used to be your page rank in search engine results page (SERP).

However, today it may not be relevant because no position is static. Quite the contrary, there are several factors making the rankings dynamic:

  1. First of all, Google keeps changing their algorithm several times a year. What works today may not work tomorrow.
  2. Also, Google is getting increasingly sophisticated in interpreting what you actually want and how to personalize the results just for you. Based on my recent projects I can confirm this myself: a customer of mine sees a different ranking for his website than I do. He’s using desktop and IE, I’m using Safari and iPhone. We are 40 kilometers apart. That matters today.
  3. Third, you probably have more than one Buyer Persona and they have different needs depending on whether they have just become aware of their need, whether they are comparing options or have decided to buy. Thus, their first search might be about “widgets”, their second about “green widgets” and the last about “best <location X> green widgets”. Finally, they might look for “experiences with <location X> green widgets by <your company>”. Thus, you must not strive for one keyword, but manage several of them as a long-term investment portfolio.

Instead: traffic, CRO & keyword portfolio

“But I want to measure my success!”

Sure! Do this:

  • Traffic: measure the increase in organic traffic compared e.g. to the year before and/or last month.
  • Conversion rates: how many visitors downloaded gated content and ended up buying?
  • Ranking: create a ranking index for the keywords and manage them like an investment portfolio.
  • CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost): calculate how much does the acquisition of a new customer cost you?

These should get you started.

In any case, absolutely search engine optimize.

But first, create great content.

You might also need to pay for ads in the beginning to gain visibility.

Every now and then you can do an SEO audit to check the health of your website.

And do consider your whole digital presence.

How long does it take for SEO to have an effect?

In our experience, it takes about ten weeks for your website to start improving its ranking.

However, there are several factors that are involved. SEO Plus has a good article that highlights these.

How to conduct a SEO audit?

SEO audit by - Photo by Dmitry Pavlov

When done the right way, Search Engine Optimization can can have a significant positive impact on your online presence.

It can determine whether potential site visitors end up on your site in the first place, and whether they can navigate it and find what they are looking for. In addition to website traffic, it can also affect the conversions you get.

This is why it’s critical to conduct an audit of your site to determine whether it’s meeting its full potential. This is especially true if you have operated a site for a long time.

Here at Seomphony, we specialize in the more scientific marketing and sales tactics, but they cannot really be utilized before your site is in shape first.

So let’s get going.

What is an SEO audit?

Simply put, an SEO audit is a health check for your site.

It is a thorough analysis of all the technical infrastructure on your site, as well as the off-site and on-site elements that could help improve your website’s usability, visibility, and accessibility.

Depending on the size of your site, the process could require a lot of time and effort, but there’s usually several things that you can correct immediately.

There are software on the market that can help with SEO audit, and it makes sense to use one again if you have thousands of pages online.

On the other hand, it is better to learn the SEO audit basics below so that you can look for and identify the right things to fix.

Who needs an SEO audit and when?

Every website can benefit from an audit especially if one has never been conducted. Roughly, the longer the site has been up, the more need there is for the audit. One way to decide about the actual audit timing are major Google algorithm updates, or for example once a year.

The fairly simple audits that I’ve done for sites with max a couple of dozen pages and articles have all easily resulted in a list of fifty to one hundred items to fix. Older and bigger sites may require a full redesign before the site begins to match current search engine requirements again.

Benefits of an SEO audit

An SEO audit determines your as-is state based on which you can determine a workable plan for improving your site’s rankings on major search engines.

It also allows comparison with competitors. SEO audit is a great benchmarking exercise that can give you an idea of what your competitors are doing. This can help you devise tactics to improve your own visibility and accessibility.

It educates you about all the factors that could affect your ranking on major search engines. This will allow you to pay more attention to them in future.

Supports you in creating a winning SEO approach to serving your customers better. By knowing the weaknesses of your website, you can create a strategy that helps you fix issues and improve your domain authority.

What does an SEO audit cover?

A Search Engine Optimization audit covers three main areas, mainly:

– Technical aspects of the site.

– On-page analysis

– Off-page analysis

Technical Aspects of the Website

A technical audit involves an analysis of the technical foundation of the site. These are all the nuts and bolts that help your site run. This type of audit makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl and index your site for easy accessibility. Some of the website features to analyze include:

DNS settings

This analysis helps you ensure that search engine bots don’t get an error whenever they try to crawl and index the site. To do this, log into your Google Search Console and check for crawl errors and the current status on your dashboard. If there is a green check under DNS, the site is good to go. However, if there are errors, you need to perform a more thorough check to get an explanation of the problems you need to address.

Server Error

On the same Google search console dashboard, look for a green check under ‘Server Connectivity’. You can go into further detail in the search console to look for any crawl errors, as well as the total server connectivity errors.

Robots.txt fetch

This is also available on the console dashboard. As long as there are no errors, you are good to go. You can also use the Robots.txt tester to ensure specific parts of your site are not being blocked.

404 errors

All sites get 404 handling errors. Therefore, a small number of these errors is nothing to worry about. However, if you are getting thousands of 404 errors, or if you experience a sudden spike in the number of errors, there could be a problem with the site. 404 errors indicate that there are missing pages, and this could mean that the server has issues, or that there are problems with the site’s performance.

To check for 404 errors, go to the Google search console dashboard and click on crawl. Click on crawl errors, and select the ‘Not found’ tab. If there are a lot of errors, will have to delve deeper to discover what the real issue is.

Site security

Search engines such as Google give preferences to sites that are secure. Therefore, having security in place can help reassure your users and even slightly improve your search rankings and traffic. Check your site on your browser to ensure there is an ‘s’ after ‘http’.


This analysis ensures Google is indexing all the pages it should. Start by going to your Google dashboard and clicking on Google Index. Select ‘Index Status’ to see the total number of indexed pages. Next, go to Google search engine and search for ‘site:[yourwebsite name]’. Look for the number of indexed pages the results page returns. The numbers should be equivalent, and any major discrepancies should be analyzed further.

HTML validation

Use a HTML validation tool to determine any errors your site has. Be extra vigilant for any fatal errors. Give the report to your web developer to improve a site accordingly.

XML Sitemap

Ensure the site has an XML sitemap to make it easier for bots to scan the pages. It’s important to ensure the sitemap is simple and straightforward, as cluttered instructions can weaken the sitemap’s integrity and cause bot confusion. To scan your site’s XML sitemap, use the free W3 syntax checker.

Malware scan

Most search engines can find viruses and malware on a site. A site that has a lot of viruses can be marked as unsafe, and visitors may be wary of browsing through its pages. Therefore, it is advisable to run a scan to check for risks.

Mobile friendliness

An increasing number of visitors access websites through their mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets. Making a site mobile friendly can help tap into this market and reach the site’s full SEO potential. The Google Developers mobile friendly test can help you determine if the site can be easily accessed and navigated on a mobile device. What you need is an ‘Awesome’ score from Google Developers. If you don’t get this message, analyze your site further to determine any issues it has that may affect its responsiveness on mobile devices.

Site speed

The speed of a site has a lot of impact on the user’s experience, and it can influence their decision to stay on a site or to visit it in future. Most of the time when conducting an SEO edit, you’ll find a problem affecting the speed of the site. The likelihood is fixing this issue will have a huge impact on the traffic volume as well as conversion rates on your pages. Websites such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights can help you determine the speed of your site on both desktop computers and mobile devices. It is important to note that you’ll never get a perfect score on these tests. However, you should watch out for certain factors and results, including:

– Code to text ratio

– The size of a page

– The size of images on your site

– Cache installation

– Minimizing or externalizing scripts to improve site speed

On-page SEO audit

A thorough on-page audit would involve an analysis of every single page on a site and that makes sense if you have a maximum of a few dozen of pages. However, this is not practical for sites that have hundreds or thousands of pages. For such sites, it is better to take a sample of 50 to 100 pages and analyze them to determine the health of the site.

Main and Footer navigation

Navigation affects the experiences your users have on your site. Navigation on the site should be simple, accurate, and intuitive. Everything should be logically arranged and keyword focused to make it easier for users to access the information they need. There should also be straightforward navigation on the page’s footer.


If the site has any breadcrumbs, analyse to ensure they are relevant and functional. Breadcrumbs can help with schema markup and improved navigation, as long as they lead to the right pages and convey the right information.


Content is king on any website, which is why it is important to ensure the site has the right information. To stay competitive, it is important to update the content on a site consistently and continuously. The articles and on-site information should always be optimized for a certain keyword relevant to the industry or target audience. These long-tail keywords improve a site’s chances of ranking highly on search engines. More information in my article about SEO Copywriting.

URL analysis

URL is the path that search engines follow to access a site. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the URL is analyzed for usability and indexation. A good URL should convey what the particular page is about. When analyzing URLs, ensure there are no numbers or symbols. The URL should be short, simple, and keyword focused.

NAP Presence

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. A business site should have this information on all pages on the site to make it easier for users to contact the owner. The NAP should be present on the header or footer to ensure it can be seen throughout the site. The information should also be consistent on all pages. For SEO purposes, you can also integrate maps on your site to make it easier for users to locate the business.

Page-by-page analysis

This involves a deep analysis of all the pages on the site. Some of the details to look out for include:

1. Page title

2. Meta description

3. Headers

4. Keyword focus

5. Relevant copy

6. Interactive and visual content

7. Internal linking

8. Alt tags

9. Broken links

10. Advertisements

11. Layout and readability

12. Spelling and grammar

13. Call to action

Off-page audit

This is the final phase of the audit, and it mostly involves backlinks and social media audits. It is important to know where traffic to your site comes from, and whether the sites are authoritative and respectable.


One of the best tools to use when determining the traffic to your site is Google Search Analytics. To access it, go to the search console dashboard, click on ‘Search Traffic’ and select ‘Search Analytics’. You’ll see a chart with information on your site’s ranking, performance, and search viability.

Search penalties

If a site has been penalized, you may have to go through quite a bit of to get it indexed again or ranking higher on search engines. There are two types of penalties, manual and algorithmic. Manual penalties are enacted by staff members in Google, and they spell real trouble for site owners. To check if a site has been manually penalized, go to ‘Search Traffic’ on the Google search console dashboard, and click on ‘Manual Actions’.

Algorithmic penalties are automatic, and represent a decrease in site traffic after algorithm changes. There are quite a number of tools to help you determine if an algorithmic update affected your site’s rankings or traffic. If you see any decline in traffic after an algorithm change, it means that your site was penalized because it didn’t conform to the rules of the new algorithm.

External links

An audit should analyze the quantity and velocity of inbound links. Ideally, inbound links to a site should increase steadily over time. If the velocity is too high over a short period of time, it could suggest that the content on the page went viral, or that there is spamming or negative SEO. Negative SEO tactics and spamming could get a site penalized. It is also important to ensure that the deep links are more than the home page links. Deep links are inbound links to internal pages on a site. Home page links are links to the site’s start page.

Inbound links should com from Top level domain sites. Generally, the most authoritative and beneficial links are from .gov and .edu sites. You can also get a lot of benefits from .com and .net sites. But: to determine the actual quality of a site and a link, use a professional tool such as SemRush, Moz or Majestic.

Another factor to consider when auditing a site’s inbound links is the link topic. The inbound links should come from relevant industries and sites, not ad-heavy or adult-themed sites.


After conducting an SEO audit on a client’s site, hold a meeting with the site owner to discuss the findings of the audit and advise on ways to correct issues and errors for improved site performance.

Want to know more?

Robbie Richards has excellent ideas about removing “dead weight” from your site.

With GTMetrix you can get a quick overview of your site’s technical health. has a good checklist for performing technical SEO audit.

Seomphony 2021