Every site needs to attract attention. Since people can only come to your site by typing your URL directly into the browser, come to your site from a link on another site another, or find you via a search engine, the topic of getting traffic from search engines is a very important one. In this article, we’ll go over SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies that many new sites would do well to follow to grow traffic to their sites.
1) Lower Your Expectations
New sites have very little trust, no authority, few pages, and very little unique content. There is absolutely no way that new sites can get high levels of traffic from SEO or rank in the top-10 for high-volume and competitive searches.? One your site is trusted, you can produce content and see your new pages in the top-10 or top-20 of Google search results withing a few days or less.? Unfortunately for new sites, it takes much longer to achieve high rankings in search engines.? New and untrusted sites without much authority must take to heart the old “it takes six months for SEO to work” approach.
[login]Instead of hoping for immediate results, new sites must instead focus on making long-terms plans.? There must be a plan to build trust and authority in their niche, consistently create optimized content, and a great overall product to which people will find it natural and helpful to link.
If you expect strong SEO traffic in the first 6 months of your site’s existence, it is not going to be easy to accomplish.? You may want to rethink your initial goals and lower the expectations from SEO until your site is trusted and has built up some authority.
2) Focus on Building Trust
New sites are given a little bit of trust by search engines, but the amount of trust new sites have is not enough to rank for any significant terms. Trust has to be built.? There are a number of ways to make a search engine view your site as trustworthy.? One such way is to maintain good practices of content creation.? You must consistently create new content that is good enough to earn links on its own.? We will touch on content creation in more detail a little later in the article.
Another great way to build trust is to get sites that are big and already trusted to link to your site.? There are many types of trusted sites.? Links from sites that belong to universities (.edu domains), non-profits (.org domains), or large companies can carry quite a bit of trust with them.? In a search engine’s mind, if a university (usually professor or student page) trusts you enough to link to you, then it is much more likely that your site can be trusted, and will likely rank higher.
3) Aim for Long-Term Authority
Since at the beginning you will not be seeing much SEO traffic, but instead focusing on long-term plans to be an SEO giant, one great strategy is to become an authority in some niche.? If you become an authority in a niche, you will earn links when other webmasters will need to link to credible sources and will link to you. When search engines see many consistent new links into a site, the search engines begin to think that this site has authority and authority is one of the biggest single determining factors in the rankings of pages within search results.
Unfortunately, if you are like most sites, you don’t and won’t have real authority.? It is up to you to make this into a non-problem.? You can mimic authority.? One way to get many links into your site is to provide some widget or an embed tag that lives on other sites.? Since every time someone uses your widget that is hosted on your site, it also creates a link to your site, over time this will create an appearance of authority when many sites link to you just by using your widget.
It isn’t easy to get a widget or embedded content to become so popular that many sites will use it, but it is good to think about this early because if you do manage to create something that useful, it will pay off incredibly in the long run.
4) Create Content
Content creation is a really important topic for all sites. There are three main considerations when creating an SEO-driven content creation strategy: 1) You must be as prolific as possible in your content creation. 2) You must balance the speed with which you create content with the highest possible quality of that content as possible.? 3) You must also have an effective and cheap content promotion strategy beyond SEO, and a link-building strategy for the content you produce.
Since this article focuses on SEO, try to write content that is likely to attract links on its own.? Such content is usually written to a high level of literacy, and is over at least 300 words per page (more is often better) of original content.? If possible, the content should have a mechanism to keep itself fresh.? That is done by letting the users control the content on a part of that page.
That way you have the high quality content you wrote yourself and another part of the page that is kept fresh by users who make your page have increasingly more content.
I probably should not have to say that your content should be original, but it must be repeated many times.? Write original, compelling content.? If you copy content, search engines will eventually detect that and will penalize you by removing your pages with copied content from the
search engine rankings all together.
5) Build Inbound Links
This is obvious, but you have to focus on continuously building links into your site.? There are a few strategies and guidelines that you should follow in order to not look suspicious.? In general, your link creation should look as natural as possible to create the appearance though you earned these links without trying.
To make the links that come into your site look natural, aim for moderation in everything.? For example, if you have many exchanged links (a situation where you link to a site that also links to you) that looks unnatural.? But also, if you have no exchanged links it looks unnatural as well since it is pretty natural for sites in the same niche to link to each other and a little bit unusual if a site has no links to and from other similar sites.
When discussing link building into your site, there is also the dirty work called “link begging.”? It is one of the least attractive SEO practices, but it is necessary to some degree.? What you do is email a few hundred respectable and highly reputable sites in your niche and politely ask if they would link to you.? Depending on the quality of your site you will have a 1% to under 10% success rate.? If you have a new, recently launched, or a somewhat non-professional looking site, expect to have a link begging success rate of very low single digit percent.? But if the sites you email are reputable, the very few links you will get will go a very long way in helping you grow trust in the eyes of search engines.? Often, a few great links is better than thousands of low-quality links.
Of course, there are a number of ways to make your link begging success rate rise, but that depends on your creativity, savvy, and resourcefulness.? And of course, the biggest determining factor in your link begging efforts is the quality of your site and product.? So as your site matures, people will take notice and be more willing to link to you.
6) Build Social Media Presence for SEO
Social media is not traditionally discussed in the same conversations as SEO, but that is changing.? Google is now crawling tweets, and search engines are also developing other ways to determine whether a site is strong in social media, and using that as a factor in determining the overall quality of the site.Just as links are a sign of popularity among websites, social bookmarks are signs of whether real people using the Web are showing signals of approval or indifference towards various pieces of content.
The important factor in considering social media when thinking about SEO is that there are no signs that the role of social media on the Web is declining.? If anything, the Social Web is growing in prominence and in order to maintain search quality, search engines will need to pay attention to the social side of the Web.? Additionally, actions of immediate friends are going to gain importance, so having a large social reach will likely reflect positively on SEO results.
7) Cross-Linking Strategy
Some of the easiest inbound links for a new site to get are ones where you also link to the person who is linking to you.? It usually requires some communication between the webmasters of the two sites and an agreement to link to one another and make the links permanent.
Since it is difficult to obtain most links from coveted and trustworthy sites, it is easy to get carried away exchanging links with other new or unestablished sites just because of the comparative ease of obtaining the links in link exchanges.
Link exchanges are much less effective now than they used to be in the past, but they still work to a lower degree.? A savvy link-exchange campaign can give you one of the best boosts when your site is still new just because many of the other methods of obtaining links are just too tough for new sites to pull off. When you do exchange links, only do so with sites in your niche that are reputable and trustworthy.? Refrain from interlinking with other unestablished sites because more often than not you will just end up in bad link neighborhoods which can actually cause you SEO damage instead of benefit.
8) Linking Out Strategy
SEO is a strange field where there are often conflicting answers to many questions. One of the biggest points of confusion that many new site owners encounter is what their strategy should be for linking out to other sites.
Most new sites try to hoard the little amount of link juice that they have and not link out, but that is often a very limiting and unnatural approach.? Since it is difficult for a new site to get other sites to even work with them, new site webmasters should feel very free and open about linking out (as long as those sites are of high quality) in an attempt to participate in as many initiatives as possible and to forge many relationships with as many people in their niche as possible.
Most of the time, a relationship is worth much more than a link.? So if you review other prominent sites or just link to them and tell them about how much you like their sites and inform them of the link you posted, moving forward it might make them friendly towards you, and you will likely be able to count on many little favors from them along the way.? That favor may come in many forms. It may be a link, a Facebook ?like,? or a powerful stumble or a an introduction to someone who can help your site.
The same linking philosophy is true when it comes to linking out to social networking sites or embedding interesting pieces of content from other sites into yours. While you don’t want to go too far with linking out, if the link you may put on your site decidedly enhances the experience of your users, you should probably add that link. You should add such a link especially eagerly if it is to a reputable site.
9) Minor On-Site Tips and Tricks
To battle the link scarcity from the outside, you can do things within your site to create more links to your pages and get those pages ranking for various terms faster than they would if you had just waited.
You must have a strategy to interlink your internal pages.? Content pages should link to other pages using the Wikipedia style within-content links. These are the most natural looking internal links, and will carry most weight.? Second, you should have sections for related topics where you can add links to pages within your site which you would like to make more prominent.? Third, you can have a table of contents section.
The table of contents within a content page creates links to that very same page. Here is an example of how to do this: In your table of contents section you can have links like I made on this Muir Woods Hiking page:
Take a look at the left side of that page after the navigation. There is a table of contents there. Each link in the table of contents goes to a section of that very same page. Here is an example of an HTML link for creating one of these table of contents links:
The subsection HTML also looks slightly different.? Here is the example of the HTML for the actual subsection:
Notice the extra #muir_woods_wildlife at the end of the URL. That is the instruction to point to a subsection of the HTML.? The subsection HTML also looks slightly different. Here is the example of the HTML for the actual subsection:
Take a look at how the Muir Woods page uses the in-text links to other pages, table of contents, and a related topics section to make the most out of the internal links it can have.
10) Keeping Sight of the Bigger Picture in SEO
Simply ranking in the top 10 or top 5 search results for competitive search terms can be very lucrative on its own. There are even numerous highly successful companies who do only one thing: rank pages in the top 10 for various competitive search terms. Yet for most companies, the effort that it takes to get into the top 10 is not worthwhile unless there are secondary goals.
Secondary goals may be to sell goods or services, or get people to make accounts on their sites, etc.? A very important distinction that webmasters should always keep in mind is that some search terms may be highly converting (get the users to do what the webmaster wants them to do) and some search terms that seem like they should convert, do not.
Keeping with the example above with the hiking site, I had originally theorized that if I optimized the site for various hiking spots around the Bay Area (the site is a local for the San Francisco Bay Area) that people would convert into signed up users at a pretty high rate.
Once I got a number of pages ranking high for such terms, I was able to track that these users were actually not converting and not signing up. They just read about hiking at parks and left my site. ?
What gave me the best conversions were searches like "group hiking in San Francisco." That might be an obvious point since the site is about group hiking in the Bay Area, but there are just not that many such searches overall, so I could not rely on those searches alone. ?
So when you are embarking on a long-term SEO campaign, keep in mind what conversions you eventually want, and how to get them in a high-enough volume.
Also make sure that your site will actually be capable of ranking in a top-10 for some searches.? Some high-volume search terms are very competitive and are nearly impossible to break into.? You don't want to see your site stuck on the 3rd page of search results after months of trying to get it to rank.
Bonus Item: Build Videos (Advanced)
Traditional SEO has mostly been centered about written content.? Yet more and more the content on the Web is in video form rather than written in text.? What some people do is make videos and maintain their own channel on YouTube that parallels their on-site content strategy.? That way they can embed the video into their blog with their written text.? This results in a fuller engagement of the users with the sites? brand.
From the blog, users can click on the video channel and then see the related videos in your channel, leading them to spend more time surfing content from your brand or site.? This longer engagement of the user with your site often leads directly to higher levels of conversion.? Additionally, many people believe that having text, photos and videos on your page makes the page appear more ?interesting? in the eyes of search engines which see it as you offering more content to your users, and rank you higher since they perceive that as potentially being a higher quality page.