We gathered some of the most creative SEOs out there and asked them to put together a list of essential hacks any business should implement in 2016. They shared some of the strategies that worked for their campaigns and explained concisely how they can be implemented so that it can be a useful effort for others as well.

  1. Reverse engineer competitors content
  2. Drive traffic through less competitive keywords
  3. Long tail keywords can send huge amounts of traffic when this strategy is approached in the correct way
  4. Piggyback on the popularity of the latest news and events in an industry or location
  5. Use images and video more effectively
  6. Collaborating with clients more to leverage digital PR opportunities
  7. Ego baiting is a very simple, fast and easy to execute SEO strategy
  8. Detect and delete hidden spammy links on your website
  9. Create content marketing pieces using data which is readily available 
  10. Focus on long tail keywords that converted!

1) Reverse Engineer Competitors Content

The internet is the perfect place to learn from the mistakes and successes of others. Many people try to reinvent the wheel which is often a complete waste of time. Most online activities carried out by successful online marketers leave a trail. This means I can find a successful online campaign such as a content marketing campaign and easily reverse engineer it.

Most successful content campaigns have a range of social signals that indicate that it’s a success. A large number of positive comments and sharing on various social media platforms is a clear sign that a competitor’s content strategy is working.

2) Drive Traffic Through Less Competitive Keywords

The quality and relevance of content continues to be a huge factor in successful online marketing campaigns. You read 10x content by Rand Fishkin. This is where we are going.  Two effective ways to do this in 2016 include focusing on long tail keywords and trending news and events in an industry or locality.

3) Long Tail Keywords

It may not be possible to rank highly for shorter, more popular keywords in the search engines.

However, long tail keywords can send huge amounts of traffic when this strategy is approached in the correct way. Simple ways I have achieved this in the past include adding location names or dates to the end of keywords. Long tail keywords give those with less resources an opportunity to get traffic larger competitors ignore. In many cases, the traffic generated through a long tail keyword strategy is more targeted than high level, expensive keywords too.

4) Piggyback on the popularity of the latest news and events in an Industry or Location

Working in an industry or niche which provides local, national or international updates on a regular basis gives a website owner or internet marketer an opportunity to rank highly for popular keywords. By adding keyword rich articles to websites about this news, trend or event, it’s possible to piggyback on the popularity of the latest news, trends and events associated with your industry.

This results in traffic competitors may not have considered.

5) Use Images and Video More Effectively 

The popularity of images and video will continue to increase. These formats should be used to pre-sell websites, products and services in the coming year. Encouraging more likes, shares, tweets, pins and other sharing activities will be essential as more people realize how powerful video and images are.

More competition will exist online in 2016. However, using the hacks and information I’ve described above has the potential to improve the SEO activities of businesses and online marketers who wish to increase website traffic in the next twelve months.

6) Collaborating with clients more to leverage digital PR opportunities

A strategy that we’ve been developing and implementing more and more at Screaming Frog, is collaborating with our clients more to leverage digital PR opportunities. Folks in SEO have been talking about the similarities between PR and SEO for some time now (indeed did I, several years back), but not all understand how to think like PRs do and how to spot (or generate!) opportunities for press attention. Some of the most valuable links you can get are from mainstream media and news websites – these links are great for SEO as well as referral traffic, brand awareness and trust signals. ‘PR’ is great because it can mean a number of different things, at least one of which will be right for your business;

  •       Corporate news flow
  •       Profile pieces and interviews
  •       Internal customer data
  •       Surveys
  •       Industry press
  •       Media requests
  •       Linkbait
  •       Newsjacking etc.

Whether starting small with local, industry or niche publications, or going in for a big fish in trying to make national and international news, PR is a great way of acquiring valuable, trusted and relevant links. Whatever your strategy or approach, my recommendation would be to try and push the boundaries of creativity, to make your angle as hookable as possible – there are many other PRs and SEOs doing the same thing all day, every day, so your ideas need to be creative, have a hook and be able to cut through the noise. Don’t make people happy, make them ecstatic; don’t make people angry, make them furious; don’t make people smile, make them belly laugh!

7) Ego Baiting is a very simple, fast and easy to execute SEO strategy

The process of ego baiting as the name suggests is to boost the ego of a site owner with the intention of receiving a backlink in the process. This can be accomplished by simply composing a Top 20 or Top 50 or even Top 100 sites or blogs in X Industry.Ego Baiting is a very simple, fast and easy to execute SEO strategy that will allow any site in any niche to gain links from important, authoritative and relevant sites within the same industry.

Simply write a description for each blog that you like within the Industry your client or your site is in and rank them in order of brilliance. Include a link if you wish to each blog, publish the post and then send an email to each blog owner letting them know of your post so that they can stroke their own ego levels and share a link to the post on their site and social media profiles.

You can take this approach a bit further if you wish by making the post into an awards celebration and physically sending each blog owner a reasonably priced award in the post. The backlinks will follow and these relevant authoritative links will give you a gradual rise in organic search traffic that will just keep rising and rising in the long term.

8) Detect and delete hidden spammy links on your website

If you are using WordPress for your website, you know this CMS is often updating its service. And if you manage a lot of websites, it may happen that you forget to update your WordPress. Those situations can lead to SEO issues and for instance to spams. Today, I’m sharing a tips to get rid of these spammy links. Even if Askimet is pretty good at detecting those links, hackers get better and better at spamming WP sites.

First, crawl your website.

You can use an onsite SEO crawler like OnCrawl to analyze your links performances and get quick results. It displays the repartition between internal and external links. Depending on your linking strategy, repartition between internal and external can seem quite fair. But you need to focus on your external links.

9) Create content marketing pieces using data which is readily available

One thing which many companies don’t always realize is that they are potentially sitting on a great content marketing piece using data which is readily available to them.  In a company’s CRM, there lies a lot of data which can be used for content marketing ideas. For example, a jewellery company will have data on the types of ring they sold, how much the ring was, what gemstone it was, when they sold it…the list could go on. From this, you could derive a really great piece of interactive content marketing which shows which part of the country spends the most on engagement rings, or which stone is the most popular in a certain region. Because the piece would be data driven, and the data is from a credible source, this kind of piece is likely to get some high authority links pointing back to it.

High authority domains such as press websites are also likely to link to survey-led pieces. One example of this is the Hayes & Jarvis “UK’s Favourite Cocktail” piece, where 1000 people were asked what their favourite cocktail is. This data was then reformatted to make it look good, and it was revealed that the Pina Colada was the UK’s favourite cocktail. The data also found that the Pina Colada was most popular among females, and the most popular city was Manchester. The piece was subsequently linked to by a number of press websites, including Metro.co.uk and Telegraph.co.uk, but one of the reasons behind this is because the data came from a survey company which many publications use and trust. If data doesn’t come from a reputable source, the high authority domains are unlikely to want to link to it, because they can’t be sure that the data is accurate.

10) Focus on long-tail keywords that converted!

It’s a simple concept but often overlooked: build your strategies around long-tail, no volume keywords that you know have converted, instead of building strategies based solely on keywords with the most search volume.

How to do it (part 1): There are two approaches you can take. First – do you have any historical data prior to (not provided)?

  • For one of our clients, we had been creating content around their highest volume target terms and it drove traffic, but none of it converted (fail!).
  • So, we flipped the script, and instead pulled a years’ worth of data only on the organic keywords that actually resulted in a conversion and created content based only on these terms.
  • We did this despite the fact that these terms showed no monthly search volume (according to Keyword Planner) and drove only a handful of sessions each month.

The result: The new content we created brought in little traffic, but nearly all of it converted!

How to do it (part 2): What about 2016 when you don’t have organic keyword data from Google anymore?!

Of the keywords we found that converted for our clients, they all had these similar traits:

  • They were very long tail: containing at least 5 to 7 words within the search query
  • They were this long because they were often intention-based and semantic searches (e.g. someone speaking their query into a mobile device ‘how do I buy…, where do I buy…, best place to buy…’, etc.)
  • Because visitors were searching such complex terms, they were often further along in the conversion funnel and as a result, more likely to convert!
  • Although Google claims these terms have no volume – they often appeared repeatedly in Google’s ‘searches related to’ section, and in Google Suggest (indicating clearly someone is searching for them!)

With these commonalities in mind – you can find these high value no volume target keywords for your own site by doing the following:

  • Export your queries report from Search Console for the max 90-day date range
  • Use the LEN function in Excel and pull the character count for each query
  • Narrow down to only search queries made up of at least 20 characters or more
  • Organize this narrowed list from A-Z to find common themes (for example: how do I…, where do I…, I want to…, etc.)
  • Then – make content around these themes!
  • HAVE NO FEAR! Even though most of these terms will show little to no search volume in Keyword Planner, they are potentially likely to bring in at least some traffic that will have a much higher intention of converting.
  • Enjoy having less traffic, but more conversions and more money!

Special thanks to our contributors: Lukasz Zelezny (Hacks no.1-5), Patrick Langridge (Hack no.6), Aires Loutsaris (Hack no.7), Emma Labrador (Hack no.8), Alex Humphries (Hack no.9), Amanda McGowan (Hack no.10).

This article was originally published on SEOmonitor.com