21 Actionable SEO Techniques For 2021

Want more traffic from Google?

Then you’re in the right place.

Because today I’m going to show you the exact SEO techniques that I use to generate 438,950 unique visitors per month:

The best part?

All of these proven strategies are working GREAT in 2021.

Let’s do this!

And here are the tactics you’ll learn about in this post.

1. Discover Untapped Keywords on Reddit

You’ve probably already visited “The Front Page of the Internet” before… also known as Reddit.

But what you may not know is that Reddit is a keyword research GOLDMINE.

(Especially when it comes to finding long tail keywords.)

Hit the play button to see how it’s done:

If you prefer to read, here’s a summary of how this process works:

First, head over to Reddit. If you already know a subreddit where your target audience hangs out, head directly there.

For example, let’s say you wanted to write an article about The Paleo Diet. You’d head right to r/paleo subreddit.

If you’re not sure where your audience is on Reddit, no worries.

Just search for your topic…

…and see which threads and subreddits come up.

Finally, scan threads for terms that appear again and again. If people are talking about these topics on Reddit, chances are they’re searching for those same terms in Google.

(Which makes them PERFECT for keyword research.)

For example, when I looked at threads on the topic of “link building”, I noticed terms like “content strategy” and “content strategies”.

These are keywords that I would have NEVER thought of on my own. Thanks Reddit!

And with that, let’s move onto one of my all-time favorite advanced SEO techniques.

2. Optimize Your Site for Google RankBrain

A while back, Google announced their RankBrain algorithm.

As it turns out, this update was a game changer.


Google RankBrain is Google’s first machine learning algorithm. In other words, it measures how you interact with the results on the first page:

As you can see, the happier you make Google’s users, the higher you’ll rank.

Sure, backlinks, keywords and other traditional signals are still important. But RankBrain is quickly taking over.

In fact, Google went on to say that RankBrain was one of their “top 3” ranking signals:

(The other 2 key search engine ranking factors? Links and content.)

The question is:

How do you optimize your site for Google RankBrain?

Here are two simple, easy-to-implement tips that are working great for me right now:

First, improve your organic click-through-rate (CTR).

Google RankBrain wants to see that lots of people are clicking on your site in the search results.

That tells Google:

“People LOVE this result. Let’s boost it to the top of the page so it’s easier to find”.

But if people don’t click on your result? Google will drop your site like a stone.

And that’s why optimizing your site for organic CTR is so important.

I have a very cool strategy that you can use to improve your CTR later in this post (SEO strategy #4).

But for now, here’s a quick tip that I recently learned:

One of the EASIEST ways to get more clicks is to add numbers to your title and description tag.

Here’s a real-life example from one of my blog posts:

Research shows that people online are more likely to click on content that contains a number. So when you include a number in your content’s title (and in your meta description), you can increase your CTR super quickly.

Next, improve your bounce rate and “Dwell Time”.

Again, Google RankBrain wants you to publish a piece of content that makes their users happy.

And if users leave your site (also known as a “bounce“) after 3 seconds? That’s a user experience signal that tells Google that people don’t like your content.

In fact, my analysis of 1.3 million Google search results discovered that sites with a good bounce rate ranked above sites with a poor bounce rate:

See how that works? The better your bounce rate, the better you rank.

And the longer searchers stay on your site (known as “Dwell Time“), in general, the higher you’ll rank.


HOW do you actually improve your Dwell Time and bounce rate?

One tip that’s helped my rankings a lot is to write compelling introductions that encourage people to take action.

In other words, AVOID content like this:

If someone lands on this intro from Google, they’re going to bounce as fast as possible.

(And as we talked about, that’s bad for your SEO.)

Instead, get STRAIGHT to the point, like this:

Boom. Anyone landing on that page knows EXACTLY what my piece of content is about.

I also recommend breaking up your content into mini, bite sized chunks.

In other words, you want your content to look like this:

As you can see, this copy is super easy to read.

And it’s especially easy to read on a phone or tablet. Considering that most Google searches are now done on mobile devices, readability is more important for SEO than ever before.

And once you’ve done that, it’s time for our next white hat SEO technique…

3. Update, Upgrade and Republish Old Blog Posts

Few years ago I get an email out of the blue:

Turns out Emil used The Skyscraper Technique to achieve these impressive results.

Not only that, but Emil wanted to share his great content with the Backlinko community.

That’s when I had an idea:

Instead of writing a new post for Emil’s case study, why don’t I add it to an existing post?

So that’s what I did.

Specifically, I added Emil’s case study to this old post:

(I also updated the images and added some new tips.)

The final result?

A new and improved version of the post:

To make sure the new post got the attention it deserved, I re-promoted it by sending an email to my newsletter subscribers:

I also shared it on social media:

The result?

A 118.91% increase in organic traffic to that page.

(In case you’re wondering, no, this wasn’t a fluke. I’ve used “The Content Relaunch” several times since then, and it’s worked GREAT.)

Pretty cool, right?

It’s no secret that compelling title and description tags get more clicks in the SERPS.

(And like I mentioned earlier, more organic clicks=higher Google rankings.)

Question is: How do you know what people want to click on?

That’s easy: look at that keyword’s Google Adwords ads.

You see, the Adwords ads that you see for competitive keywords are the result of hundreds (if not thousands) of split tests.

Split tests designed to maximize clicks.

And you can use copy from these ads to turn your title and description tags into click magnets.

For example, let’s say you were going to publish a blog post optimized around the keyword “best mattress”.

First, take a look at the Adwords ads for that keyword:

Keep an eye out for interesting copy from the ads that you can work into your title and description:

As you can see, these tags include words that are proven to generate clicks. So when you include these terms in your meta tags, you’ll likely get more clicks:

And if you want to boost your CTR even more, check out this video case study:

5. Find Broken Link Building Opportunities on Wikipedia

[Note: This is an advanced SEO strategy. So if you’re new to search engine optimization, feel free to skip this tip.]

Broken link building has it all…


White hat.


There’s only one problem: finding broken links is a HUGE pain.

That is, unless you know about a little-known wrinkle in Wikipedia’s editing system.

You see, when a Wikipedia editor stumbles on a dead link, they don’t delete the link right away.

Instead, they add a footnote next to the link that says “dead link”:

This footnote gives other editors a chance to confirm that the link is actually dead before removing it.

And that simple footnote makes finding broken links dead simple.

Here’s how:

First, use this simple search string:

site:wikipedia.org [keyword] + “dead link”

For example, if you were in the investing space you’d search for something like this:

Next, visit a page in the search results that’s relevant to your site:

Hit ctrl + f and search for “dead link”.

Your browser will jump to any dead links in the references section:

Pro Tip: Wikipedia actually has a list of articles with dead links. This makes finding dead links in Wikipedia even easier.

OK. So once you’ve found a dead link, now what?

Well you could re-create that dead resource on your site and replace the dead link in Wikipedia with yours.

But that would only land you a single link (and a nofollow link at that).

Instead, I recommend tapping into The Moving Man Method.

This post will show you everything you need to know:

Now for our next SEO technique…

6. Steal Your Competitors Best Keywords

There are two ways to find keywords to optimize your content around.

Enter random keywords into a tool.


Find the exact keywords that your competitors already rank for.

Both approaches can work. That said, I tend to more luck simply stealing my competitor’s best keywords.

Here’s how:

First, find a competing site that’s already ranking well in Google. That way, you’re reverse engineering sites that already know what they’re doing.

For example, in my case, a site like QuickSprout is one that a) writes about the same topics that I do and b) is doing really well in terms of SEO.

Next, pop the site’s homepage into a keyword research tool like SEMrush.

And you’ll get a list of keywords that they already rank for.

Of course, some of these keywords won’t make sense for your business. For example, they may target keywords that your customers don’t search for. Or maybe they’re ranking for ultra competitive keywords that you have no shot of ranking for.

That’s why you want to focus on the keywords that a) your target customer searches for in Google and B) you could create awesome content around.

Speaking of awesome content, our next technique shows you exactly how to do just that.

7. Optimize Your Content to Maximize “Shareability”

Let’s face it: Most content online isn’t worth sharing.

And without shares (especially backlinks), you’re not going to rank in Google.

Fortunately, taking your content from “zero” to “hero” isn’t that hard.

For example, this post of mine about link building has done really well.

How well? It’s generated over 850,000 visits from social media, forums, blogs and search engines:

(I should point out that the guide’s design and promotion contributed to its success. But it all started with how the content itself was organized. As you probably know, when it comes to SEO, quality content is the foundation.)

Specifically, my post follows the actionable tips from this infographic:


There’s A LOT to digest from this infographic. So let me highlight two tips that are working best for me right now.

First, I use short URLs in almost every blog post.

For example the URL for this post you’re reading is simply: backlinko.com/seo-techniques.


Short URLs tend to get more clicks. And more clicks=higher rankings (thanks to Google Rankbrain).

Next, I put social share buttons prominently on the page.

You’ve probably noticed that little floating sidebar on the left hand side of this page.

From lots of testing, I’ve found that these icons SIGNIFICANTLY increase the amount of Facebook likes and Tweets that my posts receive.

Now, to be clear: Google probably doesn’t use social signals as a ranking factor.

(At least not directly.)

That said, social shares can bring you more traffic. And some of those people might link to you, which CAN help your rankings.

And now that your content is optimized for shares, you want to make sure your page’s on-page SEO is good to go.

And that’s what our next tip is all about: an on-page SEO technique that’s easy… and can help your site’s rankings.

8. Link Out to Authority Sites

With all the talk about Hummingbirds and Penguins it’s easy to forget about an important Google algorithm update called Hilltop.

Despite being over ten years old, Hilltop still plays a role in today’s search engine landscape.

Hilltop is essentially an on-page SEO signal way that tells Google whether or not a page is a “hub” of information.

So: How does Google know which pages are hubs?

It’s simple: Hubs are determined by the quality and relevancy of that page’s outbound links.

This makes total sense if you think about it…

The pages you link out to tend to reflect the topic of your web page.

And pages that link to helpful resources also tend to be higher-quality than pages that only link to their own stuff.

In other words, pages that link out to awesome resources establish themselves as hubs of helpful content in the eyes of Big G.

In fact, this industry study found a correlation between outbound links and Google rankings.

(As a bonus, outbound links are better for user experience too. After all, helpful external links help users find content that can help them learn more about the topics you discuss in your article.)

Bottom line:

Link to at least 3 quality, relevant resources in every piece of content that you publish.

This will show Google that your page is a Hilltop Hub.

That said, external links are just ONE of many on-page SEO signals that Google looks at. For a comprehensive list, I recommend watching this video:

9. Send Link Juice to Pages Sitting on Page 2 or 3

If you’re on page 2 or 3 of Google’s search results… you might as well be on page 58.

In fact, our recent Google CTR study found that less than 1% of Google searchers end up on the 2nd page.

(And yes, even quality content can get stuck on the 2nd page if it’s not well optimized for search engines.)

So how can you give those pages a boost so they hit the first page?

Use this powerful SEO technique: throw some internal links their way!

Here’s the 3-step process:

Step #1: Use Google Search Console to find keywords where you rank on the 2nd or 3rd page.

To find them, login to the Google Search Console and head over to the “Search results” report:

Make sure to hit “Average position”. That way you’ll see the average ranking for each keyword.

Then, sort the results by “Position”:

Next, look for keywords with an average position of 11-30.

If you’re getting clicks from a keyword on page 2 or 3, you can be pretty sure that keyword has some decent search volume.

For example, this page from Backlinko is ranking #17 for the keyword “site audit”.

Even though I’m on the second page, I still get 28 clicks and 14,251 impressions per month for that keyword:

Sure enough, according to the Ahrefs, that keyword gets 1k monthly searches with a suggested bid of $10.

That means that it’s worth my time to push this keyword to page 1.

Step #2: Identify authoritative pages on your site.

You can easily find the pages on your site with the most juice to pass around using an SEO tool called Ahrefs.

Just enter your homepage URL into the tool and click “Search”:

Then click on “Best By Links” in the left-hand sidebar:

That will show you the most authoritative pages on your site:

Step #3: Go to those landing pages and add internal links.

Finally, add internal links from those authoritative pages to the landing page that needs a boost.

10. Add This One Word to Your Outreach Email…and Increase Your Response Rate by 45%

When someone sees an email pop into their inbox, two questions enter their mind:

“Who is this person?” and “What do they want?”

The faster you answer these questions in your outreach emails, the better your response rate will be.

But how can you do that?

It’s easy: Use the word “because” early in your email.

Believe it or not, the word “because” has surprisingly powerful effects on human psychology.

Research by Dr. Ellen Langer of Harvard University tested whether people waiting in line to use a copy machine would let a stranger cut in front of them.

When the stranger asked: “Can I use the copy machine before you?”, only 61% people said “yes”.

But when the stranger asked: “Can I use the copy machine before you because I’m in a rush?”, 89% said yes.

(That’s a 45% increase!)

Why such a huge difference?

It turns out that the word “because” makes your request seem more legitimate.

In the world of outreach, legit messages get better responses.

(Just look at all those lame guest post pitches that flood your inbox. If they actually took the time to look legit, they’d perform a lot better.)

Here’s an example blogger outreach pitch that leverages the word “because” early on:

The person receiving that message knows why I’m emailing them after two seconds of reading.

But more importantly, the word “because” cements my reason for reaching out as more legit.

11. Write Mini Blog Posts for YouTube Descriptions

I don’t need to tell you that YouTube video results are dominating Google’s first page.

And considering that Google owns the popular video site, it’s a trend that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Here’s the best part:

There’s a dead-simple technique that can get your YouTube videos to rank for competitive keywords in both YouTube and Google: write 200+ word video descriptions.

When most people upload a video to YouTube, they mindlessly toss a few words into the description box:

That’s a HUGE mistake.

Remember that Google can’t watch or listen to your video content.

Instead, they rely on your video’s text-based title and description to determine what your video is about.

And this extra text content can help you rank for your target keywords.

For example, I recently published this video that outlines a handful of DIY search engine optimization strategies:

And here’s the description for that video:

As you can see, that’s a high-quality, 200-word video description (you may have also noticed that it contains my target keyword, “DIY SEO”, several times).

And this description is one reason that my video rocketed to the first page of YouTube for my target keyword:

If you want to learn more about YouTube SEO, check out this step-by-step guide.

12. Optimize Content For “Semantic SEO”

A few years ago, Google rolled out an all-new search algorithm called Hummingbird.

Before Hummingbird, Google only analyzed the individual keywords on your page.

But thanks to this new algorithm, Google could now understand the TOPIC of your page.

(By the way, the ability for search engines to understand topics and rank search results accordingly is called: “Semantic Search”.)

The question is:

How can you optimize your content for Semantic SEO?

Here’s the step-by-step process:

First, optimize your page around your target keyword just like you normally would.

Then, cover subtopics related to your target keyword. That way, Google can fully understand the topic of your page (not just your keyword).

For example, this page on my site is a list of 200 Google ranking factors:

Because I cover subtopics (like Google penalties and site-level factors), Google knows what my content is about.

And because Google can fully understand my content’s topic, it ranks this single page for over 2,400 keywords (according to SEMRush):

You can easily find related subtopics using a tool called LSIGraph:

This tool shows you subtopics (and terms) that are related to the keyword you typed into it. And when you use cover these subtopics in your content, it’ll be optimized for Semantic Search.

13. Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags

Here’s the deal:

If you only include one keyword in your title tag you’re leaving A LOT of search engine traffic on the table (and no, I’m not talking about keyword stuffing).

I’ll explain: A while ago I published a post called White Hat SEO Case Study: How To Get a #1 Ranking.

My target keyword for that post was, “white hat SEO”.

So I included the keyword “white hat SEO” in the post’s title.

But I didn’t stop there…

I realized that the keyword “SEO case study” also got a decent amount of searches every month:

So I decided to embed that long tail keyword into the blog post title:

And I hit the #5 for “SEO case study” in a few short weeks.

As you might expect, the keyword “SEO case study” is MUCH less competitive than “white hat SEO”.

Because of that, I got traffic almost instantly from the keyword “SEO case study”.

And as that page has accumulated links, it made its way onto the first page for “white hat SEO”.

If I had only optimized for “white hat SEO”, I wouldn’t have received ANY traffic until I hit the first page for that term.

Fortunately, my embedded long tail keyword “SEO case study” hooked me up with traffic right away.

Bottom line:

Find long tails that you can embed into your titles.

You’ll get search engine traffic faster… and eventually rank the page for more than one term.

14. Hack Wikipedia for Keyword and Topic Ideas

Want to find untapped keywords that your competition doesn’t know about?

Then stop using the Google Keyword Planner and use this SEO technique instead.

Sure, The Keyword Planner is nice for monthly search volume info…but it’s HORRIBLE at generating new keyword ideas.


Well, the Keyword Planner only gives you VERY close variations of the keywords of your seed keywords.

So if you enter a seed keyword like “weight loss”, it will spit out VERY similar keywords, like this:

If you want to find keywords that are closely related to your seed keyword — but not straight-up variations — you need a human mind.

Or better yet, the thousands of human minds that contribute to Wikipedia.

Here’s how:

Head over to Wikipedia and enter a keyword (I’m going to use the keyword “insurance” in this example):

Next, keep an eye out for sections on the Wikipedia entry that display closely related keywords and topics.

These sections are… The “Contents” box:

Callouts and sidebars:

Internal links:

And “See Also” sections:

You’ll usually come away with fistfuls of keyword and topic ideas from a single Wikipedia entry.

If you want to find even more keyword ideas, click on an internal link.

Then simply follow the same process for that Wikipedia entry.

Rinse and repeat.

15. Use “Best of” Lists to Find Awesome Link Building Opportunities

This is one of my favorite SEO tips of all time.

If you do a lot of link building, you know that a list of high-quality, niche-relevant blogs is like money in the bank.

What you may not realize is that bloggers in your niche create these lists for you in the form of “best of” blog posts.

“Best of” blog posts are simply hand curated lists of the best blogs in a specific industry.

How can you find these “best of” blog posts?

Use these search strings:

  • “[keyword] blogs to follow”
  • “best [keyword] posts 2021”
  • “top [keyword] blogs to follow” + “2021”

For example, I just did a quick search for “fitness blogs to follow”:

I found this list of 10 awesome blogs in the fitness space after about 30 seconds of searching:

These 10 blogs are PERFECT places to reach out to the next time you want to promote a piece of content or build a long-term relationship.

16. Publish Content With At Least 1,800 Words

There’s no denying it: longer content CRUSHES short 300-word blog posts.

In fact, our study of 11.8 million Google search results found that the average word count of a first page Google results was 1,447 words.

(Are long pieces of content mobile friendly? According to our data, yes. Longer content also performs great for mobile searches.)

Why do long posts work? First off, long posts show Google that you’re providing in-depth information for searchers.

But that’s not all:

In-depth content flips an important emotional switch that pushes people to share online content: awe.

University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Jonah Berger found that content that elicited awe made people 30% more likely to share it.

As you may expect, it’s REALLY hard to trigger a feeling of awe from a 350-word article…

…but in-depth pieces work like a charm.

17. Remember the “First Link Priority Rule”

Here’s an SEO mistake I see A LOT of people make:

Let’s say you have two links pointing to a page on your site… and both of those links are on same page.

Which anchor text does Google pay attention to? The first one? The second one? Both?

According to the First Link Priority Rule, only the first link.

Why is this important?

Let’s say you have a navigation bar on your site, like this:

Because your navigation is at the top of the page, Google sees those links first.

Here’s where things get tricky:

Let’s say that you drop a link to your “Recipe Index” page in a blog post.

And that link has the anchor text: “healthy recipes”.

Unfortunately, the “healthy recipes” anchor text is ignored by Big G.

Google only counts the anchor text it saw first: “Recipe Index”.

Important Takeaway:

Use keyword-rich anchors in your site’s navigation.

As you just learned, the keyword-rich internal links below them don’t count.

18. Create Your Own Keywords

This is one of the best pieces of SEO advice you’re ever going to hear:

You always rank #1 for keywords that you create.

What am I talking about?

When you create something truly original — like a brand, product, or a step-by-step system — you’re the only person optimizing for that term.

(After all, you made it up.)

And if your creation becomes popular, you’ll suddenly find yourself ranking #1 for a high-volume keyword.

Let me show you an example:

A while back I published a post called: Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days.

Now I could have optimized my post around a keyword like: “link building strategy”.

Instead, I decided to create my own keyword: “The Skyscraper Technique“.

Today, I get a steady stream of organic traffic from people searching for that keyword that I created.

How can you do the same thing?

The next time that you write about a technique that you created — whether it’s a diet tip, productivity hack or system for growing tomatoes — name it.

19. Find Undiscovered Keywords With This “Underground” SEO Tool

If you’ve been in the SEO game for a while you know that a keyword tool is only as good as the seed keywords you put into it.

In other words:

If you use the same seed keywords as your competition, you’re going to see the same keywords they do.

Fortunately, there’s a little-known tool that helps you get around this problem: SeedKeywords.com.

Here’s how to use it:

First, head over to Seed Keywords and create a scenario.

(A scenario is what someone would use to find your business online.)

Hit “create my scenario” and you’ll get a special link.

Send this link to friends, family and target customers to see what keywords they would use:

And you’ll get a list of outside-the-box seed keywords that you can pop into the Google Keyword Planner.

Now it’s time for our next actionable SEO technique…

20. Find Niche-Specific Link Building Opportunities Using Flippa

There’s no doubt about it:

Google is putting more and more weight on the relevancy of the links pointing to your site.

But where can you find link building opportunities that are specific to your niche? Flippa.com.

Flippa is like eBay for websites.

And it’s one of the best places on the web to find untapped link building opportunities.


Because people that sell their site on Flippa give away every detail about how they built their site.

That means they’ll often show you their keywords, content marketing strategy, (and of course) link sources.

It’s like a downloadable content marketing plan.

Here’s how to do it:

Head over to Flippa and click on Websites –>All:

Next, enter a keyword that describes your site’s broad niche (I’m going to use travel in this example).

You also want to set the monthly users to at least 500 per month.

Here’s a good one:

The owner of this site actually gives a list of places where he landed editorial links:

Not only does he show you where he got his links from…but HOW he was able to get them:

(Many Flippa sellers are just as forthcoming.)

Now you know that they acquired those quality links using PR.

That means you have a list of journalists that are open to covering sites in the travel space.

Can you say jackpot?

21. Use The Google Search Console to Get More (Targeted) Traffic

The Google Search Console is one of the best SEO tools on the market.

Unlike most SEO software on the market, the data you get Google Search Console comes straight from Google.

That said, there are A LOT of features inside of the software… most of which you won’t need.

So let me show you how to quickly snag more traffic using data you have sitting inside your account right now.

First, login and click on “Search results” in the sidebar:

Next, look for keywords (GSC calls these “queries”) that you already rank for. In other words, keywords that bring you the most impressions:

Then, see how many clicks you get for some of these high-impression terms. If your getting lots of impressions for a certain keyword, and not many clicks, that means that you have A LOT of potential to get traffic for that term.

You just need to boost your rankings for that keyword.

For example, I get A TON of impressions but very few clicks for this keyword (sorry, I can’t reveal the keyword. It’s a good one ).

So how can you get your site to rank higher for that keyword?

Here are a few tips:

  • Improve your Click-Through-Rate. Google searchers probably aren’t clicking on your result as often as the other sites in the first page.
  • Add More Content. Like I mentioned earlier, longer content=higher Google rankings.
  • Include visual multimedia. Try creating content with multimedia (like images and video). This type of content tends to rank better than content that’s 100% text.
  • Build links. Yup, backlinks are still super important. In general, more high-quality links will result in higher rankings.

Here’s The Next Step…

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which of the 21 SEO techniques from today’s post are you going to try first?

Are you going to start publishing longer content?

Or maybe you want to optimize your site for Google RankBrain.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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