12 Expert SEO Tips for 2021: How to Drive More Free Traffic

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Want to drive more organic traffic to your website?

I’m sure you do.

At the heart of organic traffic is SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

The better optimized your site is for search engines, the higher you’ll rank for your target keywords, and the more visitors you’ll get.

For everyone interested in SEO, I have an excellent round-up style show for you today.

To help you get up to speed with the latest SEO techniques and methods that are working right now, I invited a bunch of friends of mine and experts who make a living online to share their top SEO tips.

I asked them what’s working today in terms of driving more search traffic to their sites, and they shared some insights, resources, and tips that are easily replicable for your sites.

Tune in to The Side Hustle Show this week what’s working now in the world of SEO, including how to:

  • find easy-to-rank-for keywords
  • perform a free SEO site audit and identify easy SEO fixes
  • use content editors to write better-optimized content

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1. Link to Relevant, Authority External Sources

A relatively new tactic of mine that seems to be having a positive impact is adding relevant outbound links in my posts.

Not just outbound links, but outbound links to authoritative sources. For years, linking out was an afterthought for me. I didn’t want to link out a lot as I wanted my visitors to stay on my site, dive deeper into my content, and sign up for my stuff!

But it makes total sense that Google would reward you for linking out to high authority, reliable sources that add value to your post and demonstrate it’s more thoroughly researched. (See what I did there?)

On Side Hustle Nation you’ll see that I’m often doing this for industry statistics or metrics, or for definitions. My main goal being to add additional information, context, or data to back up a point.

This has become an SOP checklist point for me whenever I’m going back and updating older content, and it’s something I do on new content.

I’m sure there are probably easier ways to do this, but what I do is pop the domain I’m thinking about linking to into Ahrefs Free Domain Authority Checker.

This tool will return a site’s domain authority score from 1-100. All things being equal, the higher the number, the better.

2. Link Internally to Relevant Content

The next tip is from Spencer Haws of NichePursuits.com, and his tip is to be strategic about adding internal links to other highly relevant posts on your site.

Spencer has had a lot of success increasing his organic traffic by simply adding more, highly relevant, internal links to posts on his sites. He said it doesn’t take long to do, and it’s something a lot of site owners are neglecting.

Spencer explained that he feels like Google is putting a lot of value into relevant and in-topic internal links than ever before, and he’s been seeing a large increase in organic traffic from doing so.

Managing internal links on a large site can become challenging. So, Spencer has built a tool to make this process easier called LinkWhisper.

LinkWhisper is a WordPress plugin that will help you identify “orphaned” pages on your site, as well as pages that could use more internal links. It also suggests the most relevant pages and summarizes how well your site is internally linked.

3. Use Search Console to Find Internal Linking Targets

Stacy Caprio of Her.ceo is also having a lot of success adding internal links to her posts.

When Stacy first started out, she said she didn’t think much about internal linking and used to think, “why would that help?”

Now she’s more experienced with SEO, that’s changed. This past year, Stacy said that she’s really started to see how creating relevant internal links on her own sites really helps with SEO.

She said that creating internal links alone is often enough to boost the rank of certain keywords on her sites.

The way Stacy approaches building internal links is by going into Google Search Console and finding keywords that are getting impressions but are ranking on page 2 or at the bottom of page 1.

Stacy then picks keywords she wants to give a boost to in the organic results. She types those keywords into the WordPress search box on her site, and this pulls up pages mentioning those keywords.

She then goes into those posts and adds 5-10 internal links using variations of the keywords she wants to improve in the search results.

Stacy added that you don’t want to always use the exact keyword as the anchor text, as you can end up over-optimizing for it.

Stacy said there are a few reasons why adding more internal links to a page can have a positive impact on your SEO;

  • It helps identify ‘orphan’ pages.
  • It demonstrates to Google that your site values the page.
  • It gives search engines more chances to find the page.
  • It distributes authority throughout your site.

Fun fact: Stacy’s Side Hustle Show episode, in which she talked about buying cash flow in the form of online businesses as a fast-track to financial independence, is one of the top 10 most downloaded episodes of all time!

4. Find Low Competition Keywords

A strategy Jon Dykstra from FatStacksBlog has been using for a long time, and what he calls a “very simple” one, is focusing on publishing content around low competition keywords.

Jon said he doesn’t swing for the fences going after big or valuable keywords, and rarely targets “buyer intent” keywords, since those tend to be more competitive by nature.

Instead, 95% of Jon’s content is targeting “easy to rank for” low competition keywords. The interesting thing is that Jon doesn’t focus on the search volume of these keywords.

For example, ahrefs may say a keyword only has 10-100 searches a month, but if it’s low competition and he thinks he can rank for it, he will target it.

Jon said something that a lot of other people overlook is that if you write a detailed 1,500 or 1,800-word post, you’ll naturally rank for a lot of other longtail keywords, too.

So, an article targeting a seed keyword that has an estimated volume of say 10 searches a month, could actually drive hundreds of visitors.

In fact, Jon said the average traffic he gets to his posts across his wide variety of sites is around 300-330. Which, when you consider he’s not investing any time into promoting his content or building links, that’s a decent number.

Jon monetizes his websites primarily with display ads. He said he adds affiliate links where relevant, but they don’t really convert well.

So, that’s his SEO strategy in a nutshell. He does what he calls “high volume publishing”, and is able to drive millions of visitors to his sites every month with this approach.

Check out my chat with Jon on building a 6-figure blog fast.

5. Build Content Silos Around Low Hanging Fruit

The SEO strategy Steve Scott from HappierHuman.com uses on all his websites is to build entire content silos around what he calls “low hanging fruit keywords.”

Similar to Jon’s strategy in the last tip, Steve targets low competition keywords so that he doesn’t have to build links to rank his content.

He’s also happy to target low-volume informational keywords, and monetizes primarily with display ads.

To find these keywords, Steve types a bunch of keywords related to his topic into ahrefs.

Ahrefs then populates the top 10 results for these keywords, and Steve simply looks at the domain ratings of all the sites ranking for a keyword and how it compares to his own site.

For example, one of Steve’s sites has a domain rating of 67. So, when he looks at the top 10 results for a keyword, if he sees at least two websites with a domain rating of 60 or lower, he will write up a piece of content for that keyword.

Steve said the more websites within the top 10 with a lower domain rating than his site, the higher he expects to rank after writing a quality piece of content.

Finally, Steve echoed what Jon said. He’s happy to target a keyword with at least 50 searches per month as he knows he’ll end up ranking for lots more long-tail keywords and driving hundreds, or even thousands of visitors to the post.

6. Target “Super” Long Tail Keywords

Carrying on the theme of low competition long-tail keywords, the next tip comes from Debbie Gartner of TheFlooringGirl.com.

To pick up some easy traffic, she recommends targeted “super-long tail” keywords.

To do this, Debbie uses ahrefs to populate lists of keyword ideas related to her niche. She then sorts the list by ahrefs’ keyword difficulty score.

Debbie starts out sorting the keywords by a difficulty score of 0 to 5. She then looks for the least competitive long-tail keywords that will work well for her blog.

Then Debbie sorts her list by a difficulty score of 6 to 10. Again, she looks through and picks out the long-tail keywords that she wants to target.

Debbie said that by doing this, she was able to find 93 article ideas in just one afternoon recently. She then sends the article ideas to her VA, who she has trained to write in her voice and optimize her articles.

Debbie said she focuses on the articles she can make affiliate commissions with first, as she gets a better ROI than with ad revenue on informational articles. She also explained that she expects each post to take 4-6 weeks to start ranking well.

An example she shared was an article she published following this strategy at the beginning of April. In May, that article made a little over $100 in commissions, and when we spoke near the end of June it had made $180 for the month of June.

On The Side Hustle Show, Debbie shared how her blog basically pays her to answer questions.

7. Use Google Autosuggest for Keyword Ideas

The next tip comes from Ben Adler, creator of the keyword research tool KeywordChef.

Ben also publishes content around low competition keywords, and he built KeywordChef to emulate the manual processes he was using to find keywords.

To start, he used Google’s auto-suggest feature to come up with a list of keyword ideas. He does this by starting to type a keyword in Google, then seeing what keywords Google suggests in the dropdown.

For example, if you have a dog blog, you could start to type “why do dogs _____” into Google.

google auto suggest

You’ll probably see autosuggestions like:

  • Why do dogs bark?
  • Why do dogs eat grass?
  • Why do dogs have whiskers?
  • .. and so on.

All of these could be perfectly good keyword ideas, but you need to know the estimated search volume to ensure there is a demand for the keyword.

To do this manually you can use a Chrome Extension called KeywordsEverywhere. This tool adds the estimated volume next to every keyword where it appears in the search results.

(I’ve been using the UberSuggest extension, which also includes a “Keyword Difficulty” score on how hard it’s going to be be to rank.)

Finally, you only want to target low competition keywords to give yourself the best chance of ranking well.

To evaluate the competitiveness of a keyword, Ben simply looks at the top 10 results for a keyword appearing in Google.

Ben is primarily looking for as many forums and sites with user-generated content as possible. He looks at these types of sites, like Quora and Reddit, as low competition since anyone can post content on the pages, and therefore they’re not well-optimized.

This is the process Ben has been using to find keywords and rank content without backlinks for a long time — and it’s exactly what KeywordChef will do for you automatically.

8. Use a Content Editor to Structure Your Articles

Tami Smith from FitHealthyMomma.com suggested using SurferSEO to draft and structure your blog posts.

SurferSEO analyzes the first page competition for your chosen keyword. It then gives you direction on what it’s going to take to write a piece of content that will rank well.

For example, SurferSEO aggregates the articles ranking and will tell you:

  • How many words your article should be
  • How many subheaders you should use
  • How many paragraphs you should aim for
  • Some of the LSI terms (secondary keywords / variations) you should include
  • ..and much more.

Tami said there are a couple of ways you can approach creating optimized content using SurferSEO:

  1. Write an article how you want to, then plug it into SurferSEO and see what changes the tool suggests.
  2. Start by putting your keyword into SurferSEO, and then follow its suggestions as you write your article.

Either way, the goal is to end up with a high “content score” according to the tool. The more of the suggestions you match up, the higher your score will be.

Tami said she’s optimized older articles with SurferSEO and seen the article and keywords climb the search results as a result, so she’s a big fan.

9. Guest On Podcasts to Leverage Your Name and Build Links

Podcast guesting is one of my all-time favorite SEO strategies. For John Doherty of GetCredo.com, appearing on podcasts is an easy way to demonstrate your expertise and to build backlinks.

Not only can you get branded links back to your homepage from the show notes, but John also said you should try and mention specific resources from your website. This way, the host of the show will add links to deeper pages within your site and send listeners to those resource pages, which is better for SEO.

I’ve done this extensively on other shows with high-priority posts of mine like this one on side hustle ideas. A stroke of luck and uncharacteristic foresight was assigning it an easy-to-say URL (sidehustlenation.com/ideas) when I first drafted it.

To find relevant shows to guest on, you can search your topic in any podcast directory, or join sites like PodcastGuests.com, PodMatch.com, and RadioGuestList.com.

On The Side Hustle Show, John shared his unique “high touch affiliate marketing” business model where gets paid to play matchmaker between clients and service providers.

10. Produce High-Quality Tools

An SEO tip that has been working well for Shirag Shemmassian lately is producing extremely high-quality tools to help people get stuff done.

Shirag said a lot of people create infographics or generic checklists, but these really don’t move the needle for people.

Instead, if you create a high-quality tool that serves as an ultimate resource for something, you can drive a lot of views, clicks, and generate a lot more trust in your brand.

An example he shared is the MCAT study schedule he and his team created.

Whether they have one, three, or six months to study, students can download this day-by-day calendar. On top of being a great resource and lead magnet, it also helps funnel students into his higher lever MCAT support packages.

Shirag explained that with content creation, sometimes people focus on producing massive amounts of content without going into extreme levels of depth.

“If you put in the work that other people are unwilling to do, I think it will pay dividends for you,” Shirag told me.

If you want to learn more about how Shirag leaned into SEO to build a multi-6-figure consulting business in the grad school admissions space, definitely check out our full interview.

11. Consider Using an Aged or Expired Domain When Starting a New Site

Anyone who has started a new website from scratch knows how hard it is to get traction and how it can take months to see any progress.

Mark Mars from NicheWebsite.Builders provided a tip to help skip what is known as the “sandbox” period. To do this, he recommends buying an aged domain instead of registering a new domain.

Mark uses aged domains himself, they sell them to clients at NicheWebsiteBuilders, and he said he’s also seen the use of aged domains becoming more popular as more people see the results.

He said he’s built sites on expired domains that were making thousands of dollars a month in just a few months, instead of a few years compared to a new domain.

With an aged domain, even though it’s more expensive to start, you’re leveraging the trust Google already has for the site, and the authority the domain has from the backlinks that are already pointing to it.

12. Perform a Site Audit

Robert Brandl from WebsiteToolTester.com said one of the best things you can do to improve the SEO of your entire website is to run an SEO site audit to identify things you can fix.

There are a few tools that will do this for you. Robert uses Ahrefs, and said the site audit feature uncovers the following things that may be having a negative SEO impact:

  • Any broken links, both internal and external
  • Images that are too large and need compressing
  • Missing SEO title tags
  • Redirect chains
  • Missing alt text
  • …and much more.

SEO aside, Robert said running SEO audits have saved him thousands of dollars in lost revenue by identifying broken affiliate links.

Check out my full interview with Robert to learn how he’s built and marketed his affiliate review sites.

Is Your Website Leaking Money?

I've reviewed hundreds of websites over the last 10 years. Here are the most common (and costly) website mistakes.

Get the free guide and plug up those holes!

You'll also receive my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter. Opt-out anytime.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

2 thoughts on “12 Expert SEO Tips for 2021: How to Drive More Free Traffic”

  1. Hello sir,
    What a fantastic post! You clearly explained about how to drive more free traffic. Got very clear knowledge about drive more free traff. But I want to add some examples sitelist to your post.
    I’m going to have to share this post.


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