It's well established (although often forgotten) that when promoting a website you shouldn't restrict yourself to online methods. Getting the site's title and URL known by offline methods such as posters, newspaper classifieds and flyer drops can be very effective. After all, pretty much everyone is online now -- and many of them for much of the day. So they can just type the URL directly into their browsers.Obviously the more people who view your site the better. And there's an indirect benefit in that it will significantly increase the likelihood that bloggers will link to it voluntarily. This offline linkbait can be very powerful. Take the case of the nomadic Aussie comedian Jimbo. He has a very unusual companion: a goat called Gary. This friendly herbivore, who sports a colourful cap, always turns heads wherever he goes. He also gets into a bit of strife occasionally. One time he ate some flowers outside Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art. This faux pas put his owner Jimbo into a spot of legal bother,
although the case was eventually thrown out of court.In any case Gary and his owner became very widely known as a result of this and other escapades. So now all Jimbo has to do to get social media buzzing, and some mainstream media attention, is to take Gary for a walk through the CBD.
All that social activity is a boon to Jimbo's site in several ways of course. And the odd dofollow link results from online news reports such as this one
.This phenomenon is well worth noting if you are a webmaster or blogger. If you can manage to do something consistently eye-catching
and perhaps a bit eccentric while remaining true to yourself, there's a good chance you can use it to benefit the URL's standing on social media and the search engines.
I have written before about how blogging seems to lift the search engine rankings of the main domain. This is partially due to the fact that Google likes updated content. After all, if your competition for certain keywords hasn't changed his site for a year, and you've been writing posts regularly on a blog that's part of your main domain, then clearly your domain is more "alive" than his. It's just a small effect but it could easily be enough to lift you above him in the SERPs.
Frequency aside, there's also the subject matter of your blog posts. If a page on your site targets certain keywords, and you have lots of blog posts about them as well, it seems logical that Google will look more favourably on that inner page. After all, you've shown the search engine that you have lots of expertise in this area. (Of course you can't say this for certain, and there is some disagreement about this in SEO circles, like there is on so many subjects related to the discipline.)
That said, I'm pretty confident that this effect does apply. Here's a case in point:
Recently, I built a site to help small and home businesses in Perth. Just one of several pages listed flyer distribution services. I did some link building to the main domain, and to one inner page on the site. And there was an internal link between the flyer distribution page and the home page that I had right from the start. But other than that I did nothing.
Anyway, after a couple of months that particular page was at the bottom of Google's second page for "Perth flyer distribution". It stayed there for a while.
In the last several weeks I wrote a couple of blog posts about flyer distribution, listing them under the blog category "flyers". Since they have been indexed the separate page listing the service has crept up onto the bottom half of page one. I have had a few calls as a result.
Now, maybe it would have ended up there anyway. But in the whole time this rise happened I've done no link building to that page from other sites. And I've done none to the main domain either aside from creating Twitter and Facebook page accounts (but they were very recent , and I can't find them in Google yet). So, it seems very likely that this recent rise has resulted in major part from those blog posts being indexed.
So, the obvious takeway lesson is to keep writing in your blog about keywords you're targeting in your main pages. You'll get some long tail keyword search traffic to those posts anyway. And they seem to give the other pages a bit of an SEO boost as well.
In the past, the most effective way to get the attention of journalists was though press releases. Nowadays, however, you can connect with them directly on social media.
While they're found on all such sites, they seem to be most accessible on Twitter. (They love Linkedin as well, but they're on there more to connect with peers and potential employers rather than the general population.) So anyone with a website should make a point of using Twitter to seek out journos in their niche -- preferably ones from their own country -- and build rapport with them.
Journalists are always on the lookout for knowledgeable and interesting people who can supply them with compelling content. And if you've gotten on their radar by tweeting and impressed them with your expertise, there's a good chance they'll ask to interview you at some stage. If you can get them to mention your website when they do so it will help you enormously, even if you don't get a backlink from it.
Speaking of backlinks: Remember also that many journos maintain blogs hosted on their employers' sites. Getting a backlink from a highly ranked, frequently indexed website like News Ltd. or Fairfax is very powerful. It's like getting a .edu link.
So keep an eye out for these blogging journos. Engage with them on Twitter and comment thoughtfully on their blogs. From time to time you can send them links to your own blog posts that they might find interesting. Sometimes they'll like your blog post enough to quote it, along with a link. But even if you haven't blogged about something yourself and merely point them to something interesting, they will often include a "hat-tip" link to you as a mark of appreciation.
I know this works from several years experience of writing political blogs. Over that time I have received many links back to various blog posts from big name bloggers such as Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair. They've helped enormously with traffic and SEO. (While both of these particular blogging journos aren't actually on Twitter, plenty more are. And it's clearly the easiest way to connect with them.)
Over the last several years I've built numerous websites and blogs. I've sometimes regretted doing this because they've taken a lot of my time. Only a few of them have made any money, although that certainly wasn't the main reason for building them. They were mainly just to teach others about my passions, record what I was learning, learn about SEO, and just basically have fun. On occasions I've worried that this was a waste of time and effort. But ultimately I think that building multiple sites has been worth it. This is because websites are akin to investments. And as any good financial advisor will tell you, you should have several of them running (I think they call it "diversifying your portfolio").Basically, if you build multiple websites, you'll find that some bear traffic fruit while others do not. You can then concentrate on those ones that are working. In the meantime, you can figure out why the others aren't doing so well and then solve the problem at your leisure. You learn a lot about SEO doing things this way, too. For example, I have one blog that's in the online marketing field (a blog about blogging, mainly).
Being in such a saturated niche it took ages to get even a few hits per day from the search engines. One of my political blogs, on the other hand, was much easier to draw traffic to. That's because the subject wasn't nearly as competitive, and I was targeting very specific, often topical keywords. Having gained those insights, I can then apply them to the online marketing blog. For example, I can write more posts that are quite specific and topical -- less evergreen -- to increase the number of people arriving via search engines. If I hadn't built multiple sites and instead focused entirely on that marketing blog, I may well have built up the traffic slowly. But I wouldn't have had the comparison to reflect upon, and therefore wouldn't have realized that there were other approaches available to me.
These days, because of all Google's recent algorithm changes, the focus is on putting really good quality content on your site, connecting with other bloggers and webmasters in your niche and getting one way voluntary backlinks coming in organically. However, the old easy methods of backlink building like free classified ad submission shouldn't be forgotten. They can still help lift your search engine rankings a little. This was confirmed to me recently. I have a new site called Perth Business Help and I wanted to promote the page on which I list details of my social media lessons.
I wasn't really thinking about SEO. I just thought that the free classifieds might be a way to get some leads. So I posted ads to close to twenty of them
. Some did include a clickable backlink. However most, if not all, of these were nofollow. I didn't do any other link building at all aside from a couple of blog comments (which were nofollow). Anyway, a week or so after placing the ads I did a search of the keyword phrase I was targeting in them to see how the ads fared. I was surprised to see the web page itself showing up on the bottom of page one for it.I did link back to the main URL in a few of those classified ads as well. And that has clearly risen in the rankings for searches for the three words in the domain. It was nowhere to be seen a week ago. Now it appears on page 2.
Also, a page I've built no backlinks for at all has moved up the rankings for another local search
.I have to conclude that this is pretty much entirely to the free classified ad posting, since I've done almost no other backlink building. And the site is still pretty new.As I mentioned, just one or two of the free classifieds sites I posted to gives dofollow links. Maybe this was all that was needed to confer the entire benefit that I've seen. But if not, it must mean that the other backlinks must have helped a little too. If so, this lends weight to the argument that nofollow links aren't entirely lacking in search engine benefit after all.
You can learn a lot about SEO by browsing blogs, forums and websites. But this tends to be a piecemeal and gradual approach. You can save a lot of time by reading a comprehensive ebook from start to finish. SEO Secrets
by Australian copywriter Glenn Murray is such a resource
. SEO Secrets covers a lot of ground. It takes you through all stages of building a website that are required to rank it highly in the search engines. It covers aspects of SEO such as keyword research, site structure, hosting, duplicate content, blogging with Wordpress, link building, linkbaiting, social media, content syndication a
When you've finished reading this ebook you'll have a very clear idea of what SEO actually is, and how to best approach the creation of a new site. With this knowledge you'll be able to lay strong foundations that will ensure you'll be heading in the right direction. Your site will eventually draw quality, targeted search engine traffic for years to come. Over many months Glenn struggled to the top of several keyword searches in a highly competitive niche by applying the concepts he describes in the ebook. So there's no doubt that they work.
That's what I think is the great strength of SEO Secrets
: It has undeniable authority
. As you'd expect from someone who makes his living as a copywriter, it's very clearly written. This is a real asset for someone such as myself, because I'm not a big fan of technical content. The more "geeky" stuff in SEO Secrets is very easy to understand.There are a couple of negatives, however. Firstly, there is some content that is a bit out of date. For example
there are references to Yahoo Site Explorer and other sites that are no longer in use.There is also no specific mention of Google's algorithm updates such as Penguin and Panda. Clearly some prospective buyers are curious about whether the book contains advice on these specific issues because Glenn mentioned this recently in a blog post.But the lack of such an update is not a major drawback, in my opinion. If you follow the content creation guidelines in the ebook you will have a "Panda and Penguin proof"
website anyway.In summary, SEO Secrets is an excellent ebook for anyone with a new website. It's also great for someone such as myself who has been blogging and making websites for a while, and already has much knowledge in the area. The clear, succinct and comprehensive information it contains is something I have returned to often and will continue to do so.
When you have learned a bit about SEO you are constantly monitoring your rankings for various keywords. It can be quite stressful -- particularly nowadays. That's because keyword positions in the SERPs are more volatile than ever.
Almost every time I log in and check my rankings for this site, for instance, I see a slightly different position. For example, I was in position two for Aussie searches for the keyword phrase "SEO tips" for a long while. But over the last nine moths or so, the position has been moving up and down quite often. This variability seems to have been at its greatest over the last couple of months. Some days I'm in position eight or nine, then the next day I'm at five. Then I'm at three, then down to nine again. I've seen a similar level of volatility in my rankings for a couple of my other sites.
This can cause you a lot of angst because you see a huge fall in traffic if you drop out of the top three results
. And there's even a substantial difference between positions one and two, and between two and three.
It's not a huge issue for me since I'm not depending entirely on income generated from my sites. But for business owners who had become accustomed to holding the top spot in Google for a targeted keyword phrase, the present volatility must be making them nervous wrecks!
I think this phenomenon is due mainly to the increasing sophistication of Google's algorithms. It's clearly becoming increasingly human-like in its ability to asses the quality and relevance of a web page.
So, how do you deal with this issue? Of course you can do things to lift your rankings, but it's increasingly difficult to dominate them consistently. If you're a webmaster, the whole issue is largely out of your hands. I think the best policy is just to not worry about it so much and accept things.
You should also remember that as long as you've done the fundamentals, there's a good chance that you'll reclaim your previous position eventually or at least not fall too far down the list.
That said, there's always a chance that a webmaster has decided to knock you off your perch for a certain keyword and will just keep plugging away until he does this. In that case there's not a lot you can do.
So, just keep adding quality content, sharing on social media sites, building and most importantly earning
links. If you keep at it you will be rewarded by the search engines eventually, even if it's not in exactly the way you'd like.
In the past, I used to submit lots of articles to directories to build backlinks. That all changed when the Penguin Update hit. While it is still worth doing this occasionally, I'm really cutting down on this practice of article marketing -- and not just because it's less beneficial for SEO than it used to be.
I think a much better approach is to do two things with the quality content that you would normally use for articles. Firstly, use it in guest blogging campaigns. This is a form of backlink building that is still very powerful (although I suspect this will wane in time because it's so popular).
Secondly, the vast majority of your good writing should be placed on your own blog. This is because each post gives you another opportunity to snag some more "long tail keyword" traffic. Consequently your visitor numbers will rise slowly but inexorably. And with lots of great stuff on your blog, there's an increased chance you'll draw those all important natural links.
Then there's the fact that since your blog content is found nowhere else, Google definitely knows it's yours. If you use it for article marketing, however, it's more likely to get ripped off by others, and it will be harder to prove you were the person who wrote it. It can also be dispiriting when you see people using articles and not including the links back to your site as they are supposed to.
There's also a real confidence boost that comes from seeing all that content up there on your blog. It's quite amazing how much you can actually write. When you realize this, you are motivated to do even more blogging. But if you've spread a lot of that material around the web, you don't get that sense of achievement.
With article marketing, however, your content is all over the place. It can help to lift your profile and get your name more widely known, of course. But people will only see one or two articles at a time so the effect is diluted. However, if you have all that quality content on one place in a blog, it's far more impressive to people who visit it. They can tell that you really know what you're on about. So it's an excellent way of building authority in the eyes of your readers.
I've been reading a lot of blogs about blogging lately. And there seems to be a consensus that bloggers should write timeless or evergreen content rather than topical stuff.
Now, there's no denying that if you can rank fairly highly for your evergreen content then it will have the best long term effect. But remember that there will be a much greater number of bloggers competing over those keywords -- particularly if you're in an already crowded niche. In that case it could be almost impossible to rank for some generic keyword combinations, even long tail ones. That could be very disheartening.
That's why I'd recommend putting some topical stuff in occasionally amongst the evergreen stuff. It's so much eaiser to rank for. And it can still be highly relevant. So, keep an eye out for developments related to your niche being covered in the mainstream media. Look out for highly specific keywords such as the names of individuals, organizations, locations, companies and products. Put those in your blog titles and write thoughtful, opinionated or even downright provocative posts about them. Chances are you'll be seen by quite a few people, and you may score the odd backlink to that topical content as well.
And it should be remembered that some topical content can end up drawing visitors for a surprisingly long time. I've found this with a couple of my political blogs. I've kept an eye out for news makers who weren't very well known at that point. I've put their names in the post titles and written some thoughts on stories related to them. Because I got in early and received some comments on those posts, they've ended up high in the SERPs and stayed there. When these people have popped up in the news some time later, my content has continued to appear high in searches for them.
It's almost like being a talent spotter. In that game if you find someone early, before they're famous, then represent them, you can reap the rewards for many years.
So that's another thing to consider. An example might be a person in your field of interest who is slowly gaining a strong profile, or maybe a local landmark, business or organization that is becoming more widely known than before. Write about many such topical subjects and some will bring short terms surges of traffic. And a few may well end up drawing visitors over several months, even years.
Blogging is a great way to draw links. If you write interesting and unique content about your favourite subject and share it on social networks you're sure to draw some of them to specific posts. But this is usually a long, slow process.Most bloggers take this approach. Unknown to the general public, they keep chipping away writing their thoughts on the subjects they love. So there's a lot of competition between them, particularly in popular niches. Even with backlinks accumulating fairly regularly it's hard for any one blogger to rise above the pack. But there's one way to really get your blog firing in both social media and the search engines, and quickly. That's to blog about a particular subject that lots of people are interested in, and to be a primary source of information about it.A perfect example of this is Michael Smith News. This is about something not only specific but topical: the AWU scandal involving Australia's PM Julia
Gillard. This blog
was only commenced a few months ago but it has already attracted eye-boggling traffic numbers. One day recently, for example, it received 90000 hits. A basic backlink check reveals numerous links, particularly from other blogs
. Sure, the guy behind it was quite well known already, being a former broadcaster who lost his job with Fairfax as a result of his interest in the scandal. That high profile would have helped a lot ...But the main reason so many people link to his blog is because it regularly includes previously unknown documents, as well as podcasts of interviews
with protagonists such as self-confessed fraudster and bagman Ralph Blewitt. It is therefore primary source material. And Michael Smith is not just reporting on developments, but actually driving them as well. (For example it was his complaint to police that has prompted them to reopen the case, causing a lot of grief for the PM.)Needless to say, very few bloggers would have the time, commitment or contacts to keep breaking news in the way Smith has been. But the success of his blog is something for all bloggers to keep in mind, no matter what field they're in.