SEO For 2023 & 24

In this article I’m going to show you what’s working best in SEO right now. In fact, I use these exact strategies to grow my site client’s sites to generate thousands of visitors per month. I also ranking dozens of highly competitive keywords.

Okay, so no more fluff. Let’s get right into the steps, starting with the first strategy that’s working really well right now: curated collections.

Curated collections are basically taking information that’s scattered around the internet and putting them in one place. For example, at Exploding Topics one of our best performing curated collection types are startup list posts. Here’s where we take startups in several different industries like SaaS, fintech, education and put them all in one place, along with statistics about the startup like how much funding they’ve raised, when they were founded, where they’re located and their growth.

The big advantage of curated collections is that you don’t need to hire great writers or even produce great content in the traditional sense. You just need someone that’s willing to put in the work to find stuff that’s already out there and curate it in one place. And this curation adds a ton of value because when someone’s searching for SaaS startups and you have a list of really interesting underground SaaS startups, they’re happy with your results. So in that way it is great content. In fact, we’ve ranked dozens of these keywords for competitive startup keywords like SaaS startups, edtech startups and more. And even though our startup list posts aren’t great content in that sense you usually think, where you have some great writer that’s an expert in the space and they’re putting out their best stuff, it still provides a lot of value and that’s why these rank. Because if you’re searching for SaaS startups you want to know which SaaS startups are growing right now and probably startups that you don’t know about already. That’s really the idea behind you searching for them. So when our writer, quote unquote writer, puts this stuff together they’re providing a lot of value in that curation process.

Another example is from Backlinko. I created all these company stats pages like stats about Tesla, stats about Uber, stats about Twitter and these brought in thousands and thousands of visitors because people are searching for this information about these companies and they were hard to find. They were in a report from McKinsey that’s behind a paywall, they were in an S1 filing that’s a PDF and just the fact that we put all this stuff together in one place and curated it provided a ton of value and brought us a lot of traffic.

So how can you do this for your business? Well, the number one thing is I would look at stuff in your industry and say what information are people looking for in my industry that’s currently hard to find or scattered around and can we put it in one place? The advantage of this is twofold:

  1. These keywords usually are a little bit underground and not as competitive.
  2. You don’t need to hire amazing writers to put these together. You need someone that is willing to put in the work and put in the hustle and put in the research to find this stuff and put it together in one place in a way that provides value.

The next strategy that’s working really well right now is reverse outreach. So I probably don’t need to tell you that backlinks are still super important for ranking in Google, maybe even more important than ever before because Google is really wanting to show users trustworthy authoritative information. They don’t want to show their users content that may be untrue or not 100% accurate. And how do they figure out which sites can be trusted, which ones are an authority? Well, they use backlinks. It’s just a great metric to determine which sites are the most authoritative and trustworthy on a given topic.

So despite the fact that people for years have been saying backlinks are not important, backlinks are less important, backlinks don’t matter, it’s clear that they still do and I see Google relying on them almost even more in the future.

And the best way to get backlinks right now is definitely reverse outreach. The idea behind this strategy is instead of sending thousands of outreach emails to bloggers and journalists, you’re figuring out what they’re searching for when they’re doing research and getting in front of them there. That way you’re flipping the script and really you’re getting bloggers and journalists to come to you.

I first learned this when I was running Backlinko and I realized that to catch up to my competitors in terms of getting the same amount of backlinks they have or more, it was never going to happen with traditional outreach. Like if someone had 10,000 more backlinks than I did and I had a 10% conversion rate on my outreach emails, which is like legendary, I’d have to send 100 emails and to keep that lead because they kept getting more and more links I’d have to do that almost every single month, which just doesn’t make any sense.

And that’s when I realized I needed a different way to get links passively. I needed people to come to my site passively and link to me. And there’s a certain element of just if you do put out good stuff and get a lot of traffic you will get links, but if you want to get a lot of links and especially really authoritative links, you need to be very strategic about this. And that’s where reverse outreach comes into play.

So in terms of tangible steps, like what do you do? Well, the key is to find keywords that bloggers and journalists are searching for in your niche. Why is this important? Because imagine you’re a journalist, you’re writing an article about ChatGPT and you want to prove that this is a big deal. You want to put how many users they have but you have no idea how many users ChatGPT has. So you’re searching Google “number of ChatGPT users”.

In fact, this is a real life example from Exploding Topics that when ChatGPT was first blowing up we realized that a lot of bloggers when they’re writing about ChatGPT they would actually write about how many users they have. So we just basically put all those stats together and specifically the main stat of how many users they had. It made it easy for journalists to find.

All you need to do is figure out what keywords are journalists and bloggers in your niche searching for and what stats are they looking for and not able to easily find. And then fill that gap with your content.

The next thing in SEO that’s working really well for us now is bottom of the funnel content. So this is something that I kind of slept on when we launched Exploding Topics. We’re really focused on this top of the funnel content which is content that people are searching for when they’re not searching for what you sell. This is basically informational content. In our case it was things like business trends, SaaS trends, technology trends. So these are keywords that our target audience is searching for because they’re interested in trends but they’re not searching for like an actual solution to a problem.

Only recently did we start publishing and really focusing on the bottom of the funnel content. This is where people are much further along and pretty much ready to buy right away. Keywords like trend spotting software and Google Trends alternatives and Answer the Public alternatives. And these have helped us get in front of people that are much closer to actually… And as a bonus these keywords tend to have almost no competition whatsoever. So just by creating a good piece of content around them you can usually rank.

Now the downside obviously of these bottom of the funnel keywords is that they don’t get a lot of searches. If you look up these keywords in your favorite keyword research tool they might only get 20 or 40 searches a month. But if someone’s searching for like trend tracking software that’s such a great fit for what we sell, I’m totally okay creating a piece of content around it even if only 20 or 40 or 50 people search for it every month.

In fact, looking back at Exploding Topics I’m glad that we focused on top of the funnel in the beginning because that helped us get from zero to 400,000 visitors a month. But I kind of regret not going after bottom of the funnel stuff earlier because once we started mixing in more top of the funnel and a lot of bottom of the funnel stuff our trials started to explode. We went from literally a couple hundred trials a month to over 600 trials a month.

So the next thing that’s working well for me right now is going after AI proof content and publishing as much AI proof content as possible. So what do I mean by that? Well, as you probably know there’s a flood of AI content being published right now and most of it is generic. Right? Because by definition AI synthesizes information that already exists. It doesn’t bring anything unique to the table.

So when I see a keyword like “what is X” I usually avoid those types of keywords now because I know an AI could probably do a decent job writing that article. And yeah I’m sure if I hire like an expert that’s a human could describe what something is a little bit better but it’s not going to be like leagues better than what the AI can produce.

Instead, I’m focusing on keywords that AI can technically do but they don’t do a good job with. For example, one of our best performing pieces of content is about business trends. Now technically you can go to ChatGPT or an AI writing tool and say “write an article about the nine biggest business trends” but the quality isn’t going to be there, especially if you compare it to the post that we have on the site right now by a market research expert who looked at all the business trends, was able to synthesize information and bring their own expertise to the table. That’s something AI can’t do.

In other words, I’m really focusing on “why” keywords, not “what” keywords. What keywords are things that AI can do very, very easily. They can describe what something is very well. But to describe why something’s happening or to link pieces of information together that might not seem related, that’s something you need a human analyst to do.

The next tactic that’s working really well for me is to ride the wave and basically what that means is going after keywords that are trending up that aren’t competitive yet. And this is really important if your site doesn’t have a lot of authority yet because everyone and their mom is doing SEO right now. Organic clicks from social media are going down. More people are turning to SEO.

In fact, when startups get funding now, a lot of times they don’t just funnel that all into Facebook ads like they used to. They take a big chunk of that and they put it into SEO and content marketing, which makes most keywords really competitive.

So another factor I consider when choosing keywords is: is this keyword something that’s probably going to trend up in the future? If so, I’m more likely to go after it as opposed to a more established keyword that already has a lot of searches. And all the tools, those keywords tend to be really competitive. And I do target those keywords once in a while but I really focus on these ride the wave keywords now.

As a shameless plug, our tool Exploding Topics is the best way to find these trending keywords because our technology constantly scans different sources online to find trending topics before they take off.

The last technique that’s really important for SEO right now is known as time to value. I first heard this concept from Ross Hudgins at Siege Media but it makes total sense and it’s something I had been doing without knowing the term for it for years.

Time to value is basically how long does it take for someone that lands on your page to get what they want. So if your page has a long intro or it’s hard to scan, time to value is really high, right? Because someone lands on your page, they have to go through this long intro, they have to go through a bunch of BS and they have to really dig to find what they want.

As opposed to Investopedia which, as you can see in this example, provides time to value within like a second. You land on the page and you already get an answer to your question. And that’s one of the reasons that they outrank other sites because when you land on there it’s not like one of those recipe pages that has like 2,000 words of nonsense about how they discovered the recipe before getting into it. It’s actually the complete opposite. It puts the value, the value at the top of the page.

And the more you can do that, make time to value one, two, three, four, five seconds, the better you’re gonna rank in Google.

At Exploding Topics we do this in two ways. First of all, our intros are really short. Our intros are essentially just to let someone know that they’re in the right place. Then after that we basically start the content right away. Someone can see the first trend, the first startup, a lot of times above the fold. They don’t even need to scroll down. That way our time to value is like five to ten seconds max.

So now I’d like to hear from you – are there any strategies that I missed that are working really well for you? Or maybe you just want to share which strategy you want to try first. Either way, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll see you in the next video.

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