This may be of some interest.
SEO is tough.
It’s time-consuming and hard to implement.
But what if you don’t have the time to go through a 21-part training series? Or what if my SEO tool doesn’t give you the step-by-step instructions you need?
What other options do you have?
Well, today I thought I would make your life easier by sharing 21 of my own SEO and content marketing worksheets and templates to help you get higher rankings in less time and, best of all, with less effort.
Let’s start off with the basics.
In marketing, we all use terms that might be a bit confusing.
Sure, you probably know what SEO is and what it means, but what about terms like CPC?
Or more complicated ones like CAC, BANT, LTV, or even NPS.
I’ve created marketing acronyms glossary that breaks down what each marketing acronym stands for and what it means.
So, when you are reading any marketing blog or book, you’ll now know what these “unusual” acronyms and words mean.
If you want to rank for local-based terms, it’s not just about optimizing for keywords. There’s much more to local SEO and a lot of it has to do with your landing page.
Here’s a template that breaks down the anatomy of an optimized local landing page.
What’s cool about this template is that it breaks down the percentage of impact each element will have when it comes to your SEO.
The easiest way to find keywords is to use tools like Ubersuggest.
Just type in a keyword…
You’ll see a report that looks like this…
Then click on “Keyword Ideas” in the left-hand navigation.
But as you go through the list of thousands of thousands of keywords, how do you know which ones are valuable?
Sure, in general, if a keyword has a high “volume” it means it is searched a lot, which is good. And if it has a high “CPC” it means that advertisers are willing to spend a lot to advertise on that keyword, which again is good because it typically means that the keyword drives qualified traffic that causes purchases.
And if a keyword has a low SD (SEO difficulty) that’s great as well because it means the keyword is easier to rank for.
When looking for keywords, ideally you want ones that meet all 3 of those requirements.
But just because a keyword doesn’t meet all of those 3 requirements doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for you and your strategy.
There’s actually a lot of hidden gems out there that don’t meet all of those requirements because marketers don’t know they are lucrative.
So to help you find the best ones, I’ve created a 220 profitable keyword cheat sheet. It breaks down keywords that have buyer intent for all industries.
Now, I want you to go back to Ubersuggest to perform a keyword search and look for keywords that contain some of the phrases within my profitable keyword cheat sheet. Those are keywords you’ll want to target.
Seriously, just spend 5 to 10 minutes hunting for keywords. Perform at least 10 searches and you’ll find some gold.
As you are doing the keyword research, you’ll find that it may be difficult to remember and keep track of all the amazing keywords you are finding, which leads me to the Ubersuggest keyword planner spreadsheet.
You can use it to keep track of the keywords you want to focus on first, second, third…
Trust me, it will make your life simpler.
There are over 200 factors in Google’s algorithm.
But let’s face it, you aren’t going to optimize for each of them because it takes too much time.
And even if you have the time, where do you start, and which ones do you fix first?
Well, an easy solution is to go here and put in your URL.
You’ll end up with a report that looks like this…
And if you click on any of the error boxes, it will break down what to fix in order.
You can then click through and get details for each SEO error.
And although I highly recommend that you fix your errors in the above report (it’s a great way to boost your rankings), you don’t want to just keep playing defense.
You want to start playing offense with your marketing and make sure that you are doing things right as you release new pages or make changes to your website.
So I’ve created an SEO factors cheat sheet that breaks down important factors that you need to think about when creating new pages on your site.
It’s great to pass along to your team members and your content writers as well (and even your developers!) so you can make sure that everyone is on the same page.
And don’t worry, it doesn’t break down all 200 factors as that would be too overwhelming… it focuses on the important ones that you need to get right from day 1.
But if your team does want something more detailed, I’ve also created a thorough SEO checklist that is 20 pages long.
Anytime my team is doing major changes like a redesign or change our site structure, I make sure that they go through that checklist as it helps ensure we at least maintain our rankings if not increase them.
Supercharging your content
Content marketing is a key ingredient to more search traffic.
But these days, there is so much content on the web. How do you make sure that your content stands out and ranks?
Just think of it this way, there are over a billion blogs on the web.
Let that sink in.
That’s such a large number it comes out to roughly 1 blog for every 7 people.
Do you think we really need more blogs?
Not really… we just need good ones.
And one way to make your content better is to use data and research that can be integrated within your content as that helps create more backlinks.
For example, look at this post I created on the future of content marketing. It contains tons of charts and data.
People loved it so much that it generated 414 backlinks from 110 referring domains.
PS: If you are wondering how many backlinks you have or any piece of your content has, just put your URL in here.
And best of all, I did it all without even sending one outreach email.
But of course, you probably don’t have the time, resources, or team to do the custom research we did.
So how do you create content that contains data, amazing insights, and research that people love? Well, I’ve created a data sources document that you can use to easily find all of the information I just mentioned.
It will break down sites that contain unique data, charts, and research that you can cite within your content so you can naturally build more backlinks like me.
And on top of that, if you really want to supercharge your content and make sure that it not only drives traffic but more importantly sales, here are a few more templates and worksheets I’ve created for you:
- WHIPS – the WHIPS template breaks down the cycles people go through before they purchase. Such as someone could be a window shopper, in which they are interested in purchasing something, but maybe not from you. Or they may know that they have a problem and are just looking for the right solution. No matter what situation your potential customers are in, the WHIPS template breaks down each of them so you can create the appropriate content that fits their needs.
- 20/20 Rulebook – whether it is you who writes your own content or if you have writers, have them follow the 20/20 Rulebook. It breaks down the 20 rules that your content needs to follow if you want it to do well. Now in many cases, you won’t follow all of them, but your goal is to get as close to 20 as possible.
- Content creation template – if you want my framework to write blockbuster blog posts, follow the content creation template. It’s a 20-page process, but once you use it a few times you’ll quickly get the hang of it and find that it’s easy to remember. And I’ve found that when people use it to write 6 blog posts, by the 7th they don’t even need to look at it because they know the steps by heart.
I know my content has grammatical and spelling errors every once in a while, but my content does well.
One of the reasons is I follow the templates and worksheets that I’ve mentioned above.
But it is because I put a lot of emphasis on editing.
See, once you write content, let it sit for a day. It will give you time to think about how it can be made better.
And the next day, you’ll want to go in and edit it.
Don’t worry, editing doesn’t have to take a lot of time… I’ve broken down our editing hacks into 3 worksheets:
- 10 Commandments – this worksheet breaks down the 10 things to look for when editing. If you are short on time, start with this worksheet because you can typically get your editing done in less than 30 minutes by following the steps.
- Editing checklist – and if you have someone dedicated to editing on your team, have them complete this checklist each time they edit any content.
- Step-by-step editing guide – for those of you who really want to master editing, here is a 27-page guide that breaks down each step of the editing process. I’ll be honest with you, it is a bit overkill, but it is great if you have someone dedicated to just editing.
You may find the editing process a bit overwhelming, and if that is the case, stick with the checklist or the 10 commandments.
Fine-tuning your content
Whoever says editing is the last step of content marketing is lying.
Going the extra mile by fine-tuning little things and making those small tweaks is what can help your content go viral.
Look, no matter how good of a marketer one might be, you will make mistakes. Even if you make very few, there is always room for improvement.
If you have already published hundreds (if not thousands of blog posts), don’t worry. You can tweak them still.
So, lets fine-tune your content to get that extra traffic.
Every little bit adds up, right?
It’s how I grew my SEO traffic to over 4 million visits a month:
- Headline formula – as David Ogilvy once said, you spend 80 cents on the dollar in the headline. And it’s true, 8 out of 10 people will only read your headline, but only 2 people will click through and read the rest of your copy. So follow this headline formula swipe file to create amazing headlines.
- Constructive criticism – having the attitude that you can always get better will help you beat your competition. The moment you think you know it all is the moment you lose. This worksheet will teach you how to critique your own content without being biased. I love using it to critique my competitions’ articles as it helps me better understand how to beat them.
- WordPress SEO cheat sheet – you’re probably using WordPress like me. And if you are, fine-tune your blog with this cheat sheet. It’s an Excel file, but you can use Google Sheets to open it up.
Don’t forget to build links
Link building sucks. But if you don’t build links, you won’t rank well.
I wish there was another way… but there isn’t. 🙁
As you are building links you may be wondering, am I building the right links or the wrong links?
Are my existing links good? Do I need to disavow any of them?
For this reason, I’ve created a link-building scorecard. You can use Google Sheets to view it.
It will help you keep track of your links, which ones are good or bad, and what you need to fix so that you can reduce your risk of a Google penalty.
Once you download the link building scorecard, you’ll also want to download these two worksheets:
- Link building search operators – this worksheet teaches you how to use advanced search parameters within Google to find new link building opportunities. It is simple yet very effective.
- Outreach templates – once you find link opportunities, you’ll have to send outreach emails to convince sites to link to you. Here’s my outreach template. It contains 24 pages of outreach emails that you can use to build more links.
I know I’ve given you a lot of templates, worksheets, and cheat sheets, but you don’t have to use them all.
Use the ones you need and just save the rest for later. It will make your life easier, helping you get results faster and in less time.
And if you are wondering how much time you should spend on each task, here is the SEO taskmaster worksheet.
It breaks down all of the SEO tasks you need to complete, how long each will take, the importance of each one, and how to prioritize them because there is no way you can do everything in one day.
So, what do you think of all of these templates? Are you going to use them? And what has worked for you that I didn’t discuss here?
The post SEO Pack: 21 Worksheets, Templates, and Cheat Sheets appeared first on Neil Patel.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
State governments have offered confusing guidance on what qualifies as “essential” or “nonessential” businesses, leaving it up to individual companies to designate themselves.
Living in times of coronavirus means getting comfy with pandemic lingo. Phrases like “social distancing,” “self-quarantine,” and “flatten the curve” are cropping up everywhere, and if you don’t get smart to them, you’re going to get left in the dust.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Posted by BritneyMuller
Earlier this week, I hosted a webinar all about featured snippets covering essential background info, brand-new research we’ve done, the results of all the tests I’ve performed, and key takeaways. Things didn’t quite go as planned, though. We had technical difficulties that interfered with our ability to broadcast live, and lots of folks were left with questions after the recording that we weren’t able to answer in a follow-up Q&A.
The next best thing to a live webinar Q&A? A digital one that you can bookmark and come back to over and over again! We asked our incredibly patient, phenomenally smart attendees to submit their questions via email and promised to answer them in an upcoming blog post. We’ve pulled out the top recurring questions and themes from those submissions and addressed them below. If you had a question and missed the submission window, don’t worry! Ask it down in the comments and we’ll keep the conversation going.
If you didn’t get a chance to sign up for the original webinar, you can register for it on-demand here:
And if you’re here to grab the free featured snippets cheat sheet we put together, look no further — download the PDF directly here. Print it off, tape it to your office wall, and keep featured snippets top-of-mind as you create and optimize your site content.
Now, let’s get to those juicy questions!
1. Can I win a featured snippet with a brand-new website?
If you rank on page one for a keyword that triggers a featured snippet (in positions 1–10), you’re a contender for stealing that featured snippet. It might be tougher with a new website, but you’re in a position to be competitive if you’re on page one — regardless of how established your site is.
We’ve got some great Whiteboard Fridays that cover how to set a new site up for success:
- Launching a New Website: Your SEO Checklist
- 10 Basic SEO Tips to Index + Rank New Content Faster
- How to Rank: The SEO Checklist
2. Does Google provide a tag that identifies traffic sources from featured snippets? Is there a GTM tag for this?
Unfortunately, Google does not provide a tag to help identify traffic from featured snippets. I’m not aware of a GTM tag that helps with this, either, but would love to hear any community suggestions or ideas in the comments!
It’s worth noting that it’s currently impossible to determine what percentage of your traffic comes from the featured snippet versus the duplicate organic URL below the featured snippet.
3. Do you think it’s worth targeting longer-tail question-based queries that have very low monthly searches to gain a featured snippet?
Great question! My advice is this: don’t sleep on low-search-volume keywords. They often convert really well and in aggregate they can do wonders for a website. I suggest prioritizing long tail keywords that you foresee providing a high potential ROI.
For example, there are millions of searches a month for the keyword “shoes.” Very competitive, but that query is pretty vague. In contrast, the keyword “size 6 red womens nike running shoes” is very specific. This searcher knows what they want and they’re dialing in their search to find it. This is a great example of a long tail keyword phrase that could provide direct conversions.
4. What’s the best keyword strategy for determining which queries are worth creating featured snippet-optimized content for?
Dr. Pete wrote a great blog post outlining how to perform keyword research for featured snippets back in 2016. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of likely queries, you need to look at keywords that you rank on page one for, that trigger a snippet, and that you don’t yet own. Next, narrow your list down further by what you envision will have the highest ROI for your goals. Are you trying to drive conversions? Attract top-of-funnel site visitors? Make sure the queries you target align with your business goals, and go from there. Both Moz Pro and STAT can be a big help with this process.
A tactical pro tip: Use the featured snippet carousel queries as a starting point. For instance, if there’s a snippet for the query “car insurance” with a carousel of “in Florida,” “in Michigan,” and so on, you might consider writing about state-specific topics to win those carousel snippets. For this technique, the bonus is that you don’t really need to be on page one for the root term (or ranking at all) — often, carousel snippets are taken from off-SERP links.
5. Do featured snippets fluctuate according to language, i.e. if I have several versions of my site in different languages, will the snippet display for each version?
This is a great question! Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do international/multi-language featured snippet research just yet, but hope to in the future. I would suspect the featured snippet could change depending on language and search variation. The best way to explore this is to do a search in an incognito (and un-logged-in) browser window of Google Chrome.
If you’ve performed research along these lines, let us know what you found out down in the comments!
6. Why do featured snippet opportunities fluctuate in number from day to day?
Change really is the only constant in search. In the webinar, I discussed the various tests I did that caused Moz to lose a formerly won featured snippet (and what helped it reappear once again). Changes as simple as an extra period at the end of a sentence were enough to lose us the snippet. With content across the web constantly being created and edited and deprecated and in its own state of change, it’s no wonder that it’s tough to win and keep a featured snippet — sometimes even from one day to the next.
The SERPs are incredibly volatile things, with Google making updates multiple times every day. But when it comes down to the facts, there are a few things that reliably cause volatility (is that an oxymoron?):
- If a snippet is pulling from a lower-ranking URL (not positions 1–3); this could mean Google is testing the best answer for the query
- Google regularly changing which scraped content is used in each snippet
- Featured snippet carousel topics changing
The best way to change-proof yourself is to become an authority in your particular niche (E-A-T, remember?) and strive to rank higher to increase your chances of capturing and keeping a featured snippet.
7. How can I use Keyword Lists to find missed SERP feature opportunities? What’s the best way to use them to identify keyword gaps?
Keyword Lists are a wonderful area to uncover feature snippet (and other SERP feature) opportunity gaps. My favorite way to do this is to filter the Keyword List by your desired SERP feature. We’ll use featured snippets as an example. Next, sort by your website’s current rank (1–10) to determine your primary featured snippet gaps and opportunities.
The filters are another great way to tease out additional gaps:
- Which keywords have high search volume and low competition?
- Which keywords have high organic CTR that you currently rank just off page one for?
8. What are best practices around reviewing the structure of content that’s won a snippet, and how do I know whether it’s worth replicating?
Content that has won a featured snippet is definitely worth reviewing (even if it doesn’t hold the featured snippet over time). Consider why Google might have provided this as a featured snippet:
- Does it succinctly answer the query?
- Might it sound good as a voice answer?
- Is it comprehensive for someone looking for additional information?
- Does the page provide additional answers or information around the topic?
- Are there visual elements?
It’s best to put on your detective hat and try to uncover why a piece of content might be ranking for a particular featured snippet:
- What part of the page is Google pulling that featured snippet content from?
- Is it marked up in a certain way?
- What other elements are on the page?
- Is there a common theme?
- What additional value can you glean from the ranking featured snippet?
9. Does Google identify and prioritize informational websites for featured snippets, or are they determined by a correlation between pages with useful information and frequency of snippets?
In other words, would being an e-commerce site harm your chances of winning featured snippets, all other factors being the same?
I’m not sure whether Google explicitly categorizes informational websites. They likely establish a trust metric of sorts for domains and then seek out information or content that most succinctly answers queries within their trust parameters, but this is just a hypothesis.
While informational sites tend to do overwhelmingly better than other types of websites, it’s absolutely possible for an e-commerce website to find creative ways of snagging featured snippets.
It’s fascinating how various e-commerce websites have found their way into current featured snippets in extremely savvy ways. Here’s a super relevant example: after our webinar experienced issues and wasn’t able to launch on time, I did a voice search for “how much do stamps cost” to determine how expensive it would be to send apology notes to all of our hopeful attendees.
This was the voice answer:
“According to stamps.com the cost of a one ounce first class mail stamp is $0.55 at the Post Office, or $.047 if you buy and print stamps online using stamps.com.”
Pretty clever, right? I believe there are plenty of savvy ways like this to get your brand and offers into featured snippets.
10. When did the “People Also Ask” feature first appear? What changes to PAAs do you anticipate in the future?
People Also Ask boxes first appeared in July 2015 as a small-scale test. Their presence in the SERPs grew over 1700% between July 2015 and March 2017, so they certainly exploded in popularity just a few years ago. Funny enough, I was one of the first SEOs to come across Google’s PAA testing — you can read about that stat and more in my original article on the subject: Infinite “People Also Ask” Boxes: Research and SEO Opportunities
We recently published some great PAA research by Samuel Mangialavori on the Moz Blog, as well: 5 Things You Should Know About “People Also Ask” & How to Take Advantage
And there are a couple of great articles cataloging the evolution of PAAs over the years here:
- What’s the deal with “People also ask” boxes? (2016)
- How the “People also ask” box is evolving (2017)
When it comes to predicting the future of PAAs, well, we don’t have a crystal ball yet, but featured snippets continue to look more and more like PAA boxes with their new-ish accordion format. Is it possible Google will merge them into a single feature someday? It’s hard to say, but as SEOs, our best bet is to maintain flexibility and prepare to roll with the punches the search engines send our way.
11. Can you explain what you meant by “15% of image URLs are not in organic”?
Sure thing! The majority of images that show up in featured snippet boxes (or to be more accurate, the webpage those images live on) do not rank organically within the first ten pages of organic search results for the featured snippet query.
12. How should content creators consider featured snippets when crafting written content? Are there any tools that can help?
First and foremost, you’ll want to consider the searcher.
- What is their intent?
- What desired information or content are they after?
- Are you providing the desired information in the medium in which they desire it most (video, images, copy, etc)?
Look to the current SERPs to determine how you should be providing content to your users. Read all of the results on page one:
- What common themes do they have?
- What topics do they cover?
- How can you cover those better?
Dr. Pete has a fantastic Whiteboard Friday that covers how to write content to win featured snippets. Check it out: How to Write Content for Answers Using the Inverted Pyramid
You might also get some good advice from this classic Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin: How to Appear in Google’s Answer Boxes
13. “Write quality content for people, not search engines” seems like great advice. But should I also be using any APIs or tools to audit my content?
The only really helpful tool that comes to mind is the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, but even that can be a bit disruptive to the creative process. The very best tool you might have for reviewing your content might be a real person. I would ensure that your content can be easily understood when read out loud to your targeted audience. It may help to consider whether your content, as a featured snippet, would make for an effective, helpful voice search result.
14. What’s the best way to stay on top of trends when it comes to Google’s featured snippets?
Find publications and tools that resonate, and keep an eye on them. Some of my favorites include:
- MozCast to keep a pulse on the Google algorithm
- Monitoring tools like STAT (email alerts when you win/lose a snippet? Awesome.)
- Cultivating a healthy list of digital marketing heroes to follow on Twitter
- Industry news publications like Search Engine Journal and, of course, the Moz Blog 😉
- Subscribing to SEO newsletters like the Moz Top 10
One of the very best things you can do, though, is performing your own investigative featured snippet research within your space. Publishing the trends you observe helps our entire community grow and learn.
Thank you so much to every attendee who submitted their questions. Digging into these follow-up thoughts and ideas is one of the best parts of putting on a presentation. If you’ve got any lingering questions after the webinar, I would love to hear them — leave me a note in the comments and I’ll be on point to answer you. And if you missed the webinar sign-up, you can still access it on-demand whenever you want.
We also promised you some bonus content, yeah? Here it is — I compiled all of my best tips and tricks for winning featured snippets into a downloadable cheat sheet that I hope is a helpful reference for you:
Free download: The Featured Snippets Cheat Sheet
There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to win your own snippets when you’re armed with data, drive, and a good, solid plan! Hopefully this is a great resource for you to have on hand, either to share around with colleagues or to print out and keep at your desk:
Again, thank you so much for submitting your questions, and we’ll see you in the comments for more.
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Thank you for reading.