The Wayback Machine is well known as a useful tool for viewing the way websites looked in the past. It’s always fun to pop in a URL from your favorite websites to see how far they’ve come since the early days of the internet (and maybe make fun of them a little). But the Wayback Machine happens to be a pretty helpful tool for SEO as well. Here are ten ways we’ve found you can use the Wayback Machine to improve your SEO strategy.
The complexities of SEO are exacerbated by the limited visibility we have into Google’s algorithm. Google claims more than 200 signals make up the main web search algorithms. When Google told us content, links, and RankBrain are the biggest contributor, it didn’t exactly unravel any mysteries of how to improve rank.
Q&A sites are a huge source of information and learnings. We use them for discovering searchers’ interests and pain points, which in part can drive a content strategy. Next to learning, Q&A sites are also great for establishing yourself as an authority in a given topic. I’m sure you’ve heard the advice – if you want to drive new leads or position yourself as a thought leader, hang out on a Q&A site. It’s solid advice.
There are many XML sitemap generators available for purchase, or even for free. They do what they’re supposed to – they crawl your site and spit out a properly formatted XML sitemap. But sometimes there’s a problem with these XML sitemap generators. They don’t know what URLs should (or should not) be in the XML sitemap. Sure, you could tell some of them to obey directives and tags, like robots.txt and canonical tags, but unless your site is perfectly optimized, you’ll need to do some work by hand.
We all know that links are an important part of SEO. They help users and bots navigate a site and give search engines information about its quality and authority. With links confirmed as one of Google’s top three ranking factors, we’ve all been reminded of the importance of quality, relevant backlinks. In order to get those backlinks, we have to put a good amount of effort into link building, and that often proves to be a big challenge. There are scaling issues. There are research and outreach management challenges.
If you’re not checking your client’s HTTP headers, you’re not giving them good service. I’m not talking about the stuff in between theand tags, either. I’m talking about the server response that you get before you get all that nice HTML, or that fancy PDF, or whatever else your client’s website is slinging. That’s because, well, your client’s website isn’t slinging anything. It’s being slung by a server, and the server’s HTTP response is the first thing a web browser – or a web robot like Google’s crawler – will see.
Whenever I’m working on a linkbuilding campaign for a client, I’m always trying to think of it from a journalist perspective. I worked at The Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper, when I was in college, and constantly proofreading my colleague’s work for spelling and grammar errors isn’t the only thing that’s stuck with me. Lucky for me, I know people who remained in the industry who I could pester with my questions. And even luckier, they happen to be my best friends.
SEO is hard work. Pitching it to prospective clients shouldn’t be. To support our pitching process, sometimes we’ll generate an SEO opportunity analysis following our introduction call. It’s a great sales tool, but an even better tool for understanding if the client is a good fit (and vice-versa). The following is for those who need to get buy-in from someone else in order to go after the SEO work that they want.
Imagine you’re the new agency, SEO lead, or even junior level assistant for a huge brand. You know, the kind of household brand name people know. The kind of company you read about in college or in case studies for their wicked brand recognition, reach, and authority metrics. Cool feeling, right? I remember that feeling from working with my first big client and I still get it today, seven years later. But what I don’t remember were any college courses that discussed marketing at scale. In fact, this topic still isn’t getting the blog playback that it should.
On January 15, 2016, I helped lead an intro to SEO session for the brilliant students of Drexel University in Philadelphia in their New Media Marketing class (led by Jed Singer of Socialight Media and Professor Lawrence Duke). Joining me was the incredible Emma Still from Seer Interactive.