Infographic: 24 Steps to Help Get You Unstuck in the SERPs

This is, without a doubt, the most common question I’m ever asked:

How do I get my website unstuck from page 2?

Doesn’t it seem like almost every time you try to get a site ranking, Google reserves a special spot just for you right on page 2.

I’ve spent many hours working on both my own sites, as well as client sites, to get moving again in the SERPs.  Google’s algorithms are complicated, but more oftent than not, its just a few small changes that need to be made in order get unstuck.

I’ve 80-20’d the process and have come up with a list of essentials that need to be tackled before you can expect to move forward.  Below, find 24 steps that will help you debug those page 2 blues.

how to get unstuck from page 2 in seo


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  • Hey Matt,

    First of all, great looking site! Second, awesome content – I’ve bookmarked several of your articles and usually go over them again whenever I’m not sure about something. And third, a couple of questions:

    Onsite Tip #5: I have a homepage article called Best Dog Leash Guide and I plan to publish a post about 10 Best Canine Tethers. The homepage article is a buying guide while the other is just a top 10 list. Both are talking about “dog leashes” but are targeting quite different keywords. Does this fall under tip #5? And if so, what should I do? I’m thinking of just merging the two, but then I’ll have this ginormous 5,000 word article. Any thoughts?

    Onsite Tip #1: This is a bit of a contradicting tip for me because in your e-book, I seem to remember that the main keyphrase should only be mentioned 2 or 3 times for every 500 words. Tried it myself and that seemed to increase the rankings. Although it coincided with my diggity links purchase so I’m not sure which is which. Any thoughts?


    • Tip #5 – I’d say you’re pushing dupe content. Just merge them into one article and enjoy ranking for all of the keywords both pages would have targeted.

      Top #1 – Re-read the e-book. Your numbers are wrong. 🙂

      • Matt, perhaps we are confused by the wording, but I too thought you recommend to repeat the kw phrase 2-3 times every 500 words. Could you shed some light on what is the recommend KW density for longer (1000-2000 word articles)?

        • Don’t worry too much about the keyword phrase. Get it once or twice in the SEO tag and H1 then maybe sprinkle it in the content. Be random about it.

          Density is all about single-word. Aim for 2-4%.

          • Hi Matt!

            Great post as usual :). I just wanted to ask again, because I don’t yet fully understand:
            Let’s assume I want to rank for “electric shaver reviews”. Should I try to aim for 2-4% density for the word “electric”, 2-4% for “shaver” and 2-4% for “reviews”? Because you said it’s all about single word.

          • Hi Matt, I have read your post many time. Your post is so informative . I want to apply your guide to my site but how to add review or best kw to my existing page with density is 2 -4%. The those keywords will appear 60 time in 2000 words article. Visitor maybe feel a bit bored.

          • How about using synoynyms instead? Or hiring a decent writer? If I’m trying to write engaging content on the “best fabric softener” I don’t need to use the word “best” 200 times in a 2000 word article to keep the reader engaged. Variety is the fruit of life.

  • Great infographic Matt and just what I need for a stuck page. What affiliate cloaking method would you recommend for a non-Amazon link? And Amazon links while I’m asking?

    • I rarely see ecommerce pages without words being able to rank, unless they have an absurd amount of link juice.

  • Hi Matt, would you say linking to your own YouTube channel or BBB page is enough of an outbound authority link or should it be something not in your control, nor about your business, that is relevant to your niche. I.E. if your page is about search engine optimization, should you link to the MOZ article that inspired your content or is simply linking to your MOZ profile enough?

  • I ve been putting of changing and pimping up my site for over a year now, but after reading this I took it step by step and changed everything 😀 Hopefully I will get from my “stuck” 3-4th place to the top where I belong (and once was). Thx for the infographic 😉

  • Kudos Matt! What a great face lift for this huge blog, the new design looks really amazing… and your content keeps getting better by the minute my friend.

    Bookmarked this infographic!

  • Hey Matt,

    one more question to this infographic:

    I found some links in the webmaster tools pointing to my site from websites which contain chinese or arabic language. We are talking about 3-5 links here and I have no idea where they came from.

    What shall I do? DIsavow them or just leave it as it is?

  • Hey Matt!

    I find the article really useful, but a question came up after reading your post and analysing the anchor text distribution of one of my sites with webmaster tools.

    Question: Let’s imagine:
    If I submit a link to reddit with a PMA/EMA anchor text link to a website of mine, in the beginning all there is, is 1 link. After a while webmaster tools has found the same link on more than just one page. The same link appears on a reddit categories page, reddit user page, reddit most popular page, reddit comments page, etc…
    Does each and every one of these links count towards my anchor text ratio? Because webmaster tools now shows a total of 27 links from reddit, simply because I submitted one link.

    If each link counts (which I doubt), I come to the conclusion that having a PMA or EMA anchor text link, which goes viral on reddit, would be the absolute worst case, because your anchor text ratio would be f*****.

    So how do I weigh these links? Count it as one link only? Because the same principle applies to all webpages having category pages, etc…

    I got many links from web 2.0 properties like tumblr, wordpress & wix following the same principle. I hope you get the idea and understand what I am trying to say here :). English is my second language, so I apologize for not being able to express myself clearly.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards


      • Thank you! 🙂

        And what if I have different links (with different anchor texts) to the same page from different pages of the same domain?


        domain1/pageA links to domain2/pageA with “best beard shaver”
        domain1/pageB links to domain2/page A with “read more”

        or from subdomains like tumblr.com and wordpress.com to the same page?


        subdomain1.tumblr.com links to domain2/page A with “best beard shaver”
        subdomain2.tumblr.com links to domain2/page A with “read more”

        Thank you for your kind help!

          • Thanks 🙂 Last question:

            If I want to rank my website for multiple keywords, let’s say “best beard shaver” and “beard shaver reviews” and I want to know how many EMA I have, do I have to distinguish between these 2 keywords.

            So the link anchor text “best beard shaver” is not an EMA for the keyword “beard shaver reviews” and vice versa? Which means that I had to analyse the anchor text distribution for each keyword I want to rank for separately?

          • My rule of thumb would be… any anchor that has the word best, beard, shaver, or reviews is considered a target anchor. I’m not tabulating EMAs.

          • What do you think about press releases to get non-optimized anchor text? Let’s say there are no PMD/EMD anchor links in the release only URL/generic…

          • ok 🙂 Still got one more question on my mind:
            Let’s say my domain is “beardexperts.com”, is “beardexperts” a branded or target anchor? (talking about KW such as best beard shaver, etc)

          • Hi there! It is about 1 month ago when I published my press release via prweb.com. In the beginning results looked really great and my main KWs jumped from about 26/28 to 17/18 in a 3 weeks period and I expected even more improvement in the following days/weeks. Now about another 10 days later, rankings dropped back down and got even worse than they were before to 30/33, butI did not change anything on the sites or off-page.

            I am really confused by that and maybe you have some advice? Could duplicate content be the issue? I have another money site on a similar topics, like:

            Site 1) Best beard shaver reviews (was featured in the press release)
            Site 2) Best beard shavers for long-hair beards

            Maybe these examples don’t make sense, but the similarity is kind of the way my money sites are similar to each other. It kind of feels like whenever my sites are starting to improve, they drop back down and it gets even worse… frustrating 🙂

          • Hi Daniel. Just like this infographic details, there are many ranking factors that could culprit here. I wouldn’t blind-spot yourself into blaming it on one thing. In particular, duplicate content is not the bad guy in this situation.

  • Hey Matt,

    Thanks for share. I find one of my sites get strucked, following the Tip #5. I’m cancelling the redundant articles. Do I need to do something more to let google know no redundant contents on my site anymore?


  • Hey Matt

    quick question:

    What do you think about 301 redirecting expired domains to diversify anchor text? Afaik anchor text passes the redirect?

    • Right. But 301s are very tricky. You’re also passing the relvance which may or may not be what you want.

  • Hey,
    in the comments you said that anchor text distribution is counted per page. If I have 2 money pages on the same domain and 1 of them has a really bad over-optimized anchor text distribution, does that affect the second money page with a great distribution?

    • No, it doesn’t. But if these money pages are on the same topic, then you have yourself a duplicate content issue.