Let’s go back to the basics. Every website needs more traffic. What’s the purpose of SEO? Get more traffic and thus, make more sales.
Let’s start with a real life situation. Most of today entrepreneurs have a website ROI (return of investment) problem because they are the best of their business but have no idea on how to make more sales from their website. Let’s say, you are the owner of an electrical company, who just build the company website but got no profit (sales) from it because the website has no traffic at all. What should you do?
If you’re the owner of a business and you want traffic, you have to do like any other business – offer something original. Without it, link farms are useless. With it, you don’t need link farms. So #1 is to have a product or service that is different enough to justify it bubbling up to the top in the rankings.
Offering the same thing as 100,000 other electrical companies won’t cut it. Spamming blogs and online forums? We’ve all seen those links. You’ll notice that most forum software automatically puts the “nofollow” tag and/or deactivates the anchor tag if you’re not a logged in user. The search engines have been using this info for years to down rate sites with too many “nofollow” tags, so blog spam can make your site useless.
#2 is information. Not cut-n-paste jobs that you’ve gotten from other sites, but solid product information. If you’re an electrical supply house, include the odd-ball stuff that almost nobody orders, and write about it. There’s a place in California that is the #1 supplier of old DEC hardware because they do that. This has a “halo effect” on the rest of your site.
#3 is updates. Keep the front page new; keep it fresh (every week at a minimum). The main search engines won’t index your pages every day at first, but if you post updates every day, they’ll go from once a week to twice a week to every 2 days to daily. When they’re indexing you daily it’s because they like what they see.
#4 is archives. Stuff that you don’t stick on the front page any more should be still accessible. In the case of the hypothetical electrical company, say a supplier no longer offers an item. Don’t delete it! Instead, write about how that item is no longer offered, but you have several other solutions. Explain them. People look for this info all the time.
#5 – don’t do it all at once. A gradual build-out with a constant flow of new material is much better than a big data dump and then nothing because you’ve blown your budget, either in time or in money. So stick pages on-line even when they’re in their butt-ugly “under development” state.
#6 – a little trick to get Google to visit more often – while the pages are still under development but available online, go to translate.google.com and put the URL in and ask Google to translate it. As you change the content during testing, repeat. This is much more effective than submitting the URL to Google’s URL submission service. Google notices that it’s a valid site, and that it’s got new content.
#7 – don’t worry about your ranking in the search engines. It’s easier to be a big fish in a small pong. The only people who worry about that are the ones trying to make money with their Adsense or Adwords accounts.
Affiliate marketing is responsible for a large percentage of the spam you get, as well as frauds such as click jacking, pay-to-click scams, and all the other stuff you have to wade through on the net – and it’s been a problem ever since Amazon first started pushing it in the mid- ’90s.
#8 – there are shortcuts – if you have the money to blow. Most people don’t. They’ll spend a few grand on some promises, see some short-term results, and a few months later, they’re back where they were. It’s easier than hiring someone to write quality content.
Obviously, not too many people are in a position to throw millions of dollars around. For those having enough money there are shortcuts:
- Hire a stable of writers.
- Buy your competition.
- Take a bunch of industry movers and shakers out to supper and a night of clubbing and partying.
- Contests with cash prizes.
Search engines always changing their algorithms to keep one step ahead. After all, if they don’t keep searchers satisfied, they will lose market share and an advertising company (which what Google is), live and die by market share.
#9 – think locally. You’re in a better position to compete locally than someone who is trying to cover the entire planet.
#10 – make yourself accessible. This means not using a privacy service in your domain registration. Dealing with people is about trust, and the clued-in ones will do a Whois lookup to see who you are. If they see you hiding behind domain privacy services or some other spam-friendly server, they will draw a negative inference.
Many businesses that do mail-order get consistent revenue stream from walk-ins because people know where they are. Why discourage people who want to give you money? Sure they’ll use the net afterward, but by that point you’ve established a relationship. And if you’re worried about stalkers, get a couple of really big dogs 🙂
#11 – find your natural partners. These are people who can leverage your business to their advantage. In the case of the electrical business, the “natural partners” would be local building contractors, electricians, designers, renovators, and architects.
The best part is that you can start contacting your “natural partners” early in the development process to let them give you feedback – when they see you respond to specific criticisms, they buy into it. They may even ask you to do the same for them.
#12 – instead of fancy graphics, spend the money on building a database and web-based online ordering and estimating system. If they’re always hitting your site for a quote, and in an emergency they can place an order at 2 am and know that (1) the part is in stock and (2) it will be delivered ASAP in the morning, you get the order. And next time, if your price is a bit out of line, they’ll tell you rather than give it to someone else because you saved their bacon. And when someone else is stuck, guess who they will recommend. Word gets around, and soon the general public is also ordering for their projects.
Yes, it costs a lot more to develop the platform (forget about shopping carts – that’s not in the same league, and most are “one size fits none”), but it also makes the business easier to run, since it can also do inventory control, billing, etc., so it’s not *just* a web site. It’s a strategic investment in the business’ infrastructure.
#13 – don’t over-plan. This is a killer. Start with a minimal feature set, and implement it while getting daily feedback. The least buggy code is the code that doesn’t get written because someone realized that what looked like a great idea on paper isn’t such great on the market.
By doing this, you won’t conquer the world, but you have more of a chance of standing out as the one who meets the specific needs of the people who decide where the money gets spent. And you’ll be hard to displace, because everyone else is looking for gimmicks and quick fixes.
It’s not easy. It means communicating a vision of what can be done to your client. It means more involvement with your client than you may care for. It’s a larger-ticket item, so there’s more hesitation to spend – but you can always give them both options, and let them give you their money either way.
#14 – the basics haven’t changed. Well, I haven’t run into any back linking service negative aspect. You can find all this information in any reputable tech forums like forums.digitalpoint.com.
Anything that a back linking service does, you can do yourself.
- Make sure your page titles are descriptive, and add meta tags to the head of each page specifying your keywords, description, and location – you can do that in a couple of minutes with a plain text editor.
- The “submission services?” Submit to the top 3 – Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Almost everyone else is just noise, or uses one of those 3 as the source of their branded search. That shouldn’t take you more than a cup of coffee.
- There’s no need to include an xml sitemap. Sure, search engines will use it if it’s there is, but if it’s not, you will still get crawled and you’re not penalized for not having one (it’s not to their advantage to penalize you if your content is better). You can generate one XML sitemap for free at www.xml-sitemaps.com
- Don’t be a doorway page and don’t look like a doorway page. Don’t deal with people who sell you thematic templates for doorway pages. If you’re really stuck for time, grab a content management system (wordpress, drupal, whatever) and use it as a placeholder while you develop the real site, then switch public_html when the real site goes live. This lets you experiment with different content on the temporary site easily during the design phase, because feedback from the client at that point can save you a lot of grief.
- If you have content that is only semi-related, put it in a sub-domain, not in the main domain – you will lose focus. Let the sub-domain get it’s traffic, and throw a few links between them after they’re both going good.
- Keep it simple, keep it fresh. Remember that more eyeballs isn’t necessarily more value. Fewer eyeballs, but better targeted, are better.
- To take the electrical business that was proposed as an example – after the site is up and running, send out invites to a charity spaghetti supper to local contractors (all proceeds go to charity, pay what you want). The org you’re sponsoring will supply the labor and the space – you just supply the pasta and sauce. Drag large-screen plasma into the hall, and give a 5-minute talk about your site, and make sure that there’s a stack of handouts for them to take home. Work each table afterwards (just say thank you for showing up – if they have any questions, they’ll ask).
- You’ll get some local media coverage (maybe even some TV coverage), generate some goodwill, and everyone you dealt with is going to remember you. Spending $500 on that will get you a lot more results than spending $4k on SEO and link-juice.
If you’re doing this for a client, you can bill them for organizing, setup, doing the presentation, etc. Better the money go into your pocket than a SEO “expert” bank account.
by Barbara Hudson