Amongst the commercial blogosphere there is huge interest in the dark, and mysterious art of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. There shouldn’t be. Not because paying attention to Search traffic is bad, or that wanting to rank higher in Google is evil, simply because it’s not rocket science, and anyone can do it. Even you.
If you want get more traffic from Search engines, this post is for you. Read on….
The Big SEO Secret: It’s Easy
Before we get to the list, (I don’t mind if you scroll, but this next bit is important too…) let me explain what i mean by “it isn’t rocket science”: Manipulating Search engine rankings for sites that naturally find it difficult to get incoming links and attention, say affilate sites, many ecommerce type operations and much of the web1.0 shopping experience sites is very hard, and it takes a lot of skill and knowledge to achieve.
It’s become harder and harder over the last few years to game Google, and many SEO’s are now wondering if it’s time to give up trying to “manipulate” G results and simply start feeding Google more of what it wants — the unfortunate result of which is a huge increase in workload, namely copywriting and Linkbaiting.
That’s the thing most SEO’s won’t want to tell their clients. That there is no magic wand, mystical powers or Search engine hoo joo to be had anymore, it’s all down to 3 things:
- Links and
That’s not to say those tasks don’t require skill, but it really is that simple.
I’ll give you a full checklist in just a minute…
Avoid the Snake Oil Merchants
There are still die hard SEO’s out there that spend all their time trying to game the system, but most of them are pretty shit at it, only a very few have enough resources to manage it. There are also, a whole slew of con merchants masquerading as SEO’s, just as there are fake designers in the web design field, basing their credentials on the fact that they’ve read a few articles, or bought a keyword tracking tool.
These people are idiots, and should be avoided at all costs.
At the end of this article I’ll point you in the direction of a few quality resources for further reading.
3 Ways to Immediately Increase Search Engine Traffic
Now you’ve patiently read though all of the above, or impatiently skimmed to the bottom, it’s time to get into this list.
1. Write Better, More Specific Copy and Linkbait
Good copywriting encompasses many things, titles, subject matter, the post and url’s to name the most important. It also goes hand in hand with The Art of Linkbaiting. Here’s a checklist for more search engine friendly copy:
Title’s are everything.
- Titles should be short, snappy, and attention grabbing – think about how you skim through your RSS reader every day, and bear that in mind when writing titles.
- Preferably, title’s should contain keywords related to your topic — that should come naturally, if you have to jam them in there, its either a bad title, bad copy, or you’re a lunatic.
- If your blog software writes titles like this: My Blog Title | My Post Title, you need to change them to this: My Post Title – My Blog Title. Many people will tell you it’s even better to ditch the “My Blog Title” bit all together, in order to not dillute the important keywords in the title, but they’re forgetting the importance of branding, and with blogs, establishing some brand recognition goes a long way toward gaining links and attention.
- Titles are akin to advertising, and the best ones make promises, and deliver
By far the best resource out there for blog titles is Brian Clark’s Magnetic Headlines series of posts on the excellent Copy Blogger site.
There’s been much written, both online and off about copywriting, and as a writer of small talent, it’s not for me to get into the in-depth details of it. I am good at linkbaiting though, and am constantly studying what kind of post are being linked on del.icio.us, Digg and other “link sites”.
It’s the much discussed art of linkbaiting that this post will focus on. Remember, we’re talking about getting search engine traffic right? Here’s a checklist for writing good linkbait (we’ll discuss why links are important a little further down).
- Study the popular bookmarks on del.icio.us to get a feel for what people are linking to
- Such things as HowTo’s and Lists are always good fodder for linkbait and you should be aiming to get onto those pages by writing appropriate copy. (you want to be there, because being there will gain you links, and links = traffic, more on that soon…).
- Use html lists, headlines and other visual means of breaking up posts in order to make them easier to read and skim
- Link out, link often and link generously — Really, forget any rubbish you may have heard about depleting page rank, or any concerns you have over sending away traffic, and work on providing links to great resources your readers will love — they’ll thank you for it, and link to you for it.
- Fight bloggers block by getting inventive, and doing some research.
Some of the best blog specific resources for copy writing, and linkbaiting are:
2. Make it Easy for People to Link to You
All of the above tips on writing more attractive, useful and linkable copy are geared to two things:
- Providing what your readers want
- Gaining links
Links are the currency with which one trades on the web, the lingua franca of the internet and key to ranking, and traffic. Hint: They’re really, really important ok?
Essentially, you’re looking for this:
- Links coming to your posts, from many different sources
- Links preferably have relevant keywords in the text used to make the link and again preferably come from sites on a similar topic
- Links from trusted, authoritative sites
Apart from writing great linkable copy, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your posts get linked, and hence ranked aswell as get more bang for your buck per link.
- Encourage readers to submit your posts to Digg and del.icio.us, or more specific link sites depending on your subject matter. Those categories in del.icio.us for example, are exported by users to their own blogs (targeted, keyworded link text = good), and they often kick off a knock on effect [pdf] that can have wild implications for your Search traffic.
- There are varios widgets for most blog software to do the above for you, just have a search through your blog softwares list of plugins.
- Where possible, make sure your urls contain your keywords. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not because Search engines pay particularly more attention to urls with keywods, but because people often just paste urls into comments, blog posts and forums where they are automatically linked by the software. Those links, contain the keywords, and it’s keywords in links, from authoratitive, trusted sites, that are what we want.
- Place a “link to this post” widget on your blogs templates
- Ask other bloggers in your niche for links — but don’t make a pest of yourself, nobody likes to be hassled, and some people turn down link requests on general principle (me for example..). See Trisha’s thread in the Performancing forums on link exchanges for a lively discussion on the merits of the dreaded link exchange. — My personal advice is dont bother, do the other things listed here and all of it will fall into place.
- Network like crazy, see below…
Although there are lots of posts out there on links, I couldn’t find much that would add value to what i’ve written above. If you have resources to share, please post them in the comments.
3. Networking, the Unsung Hero of Blog SEO
You read little about networking in this context. Many bloggers into SEO are facinated with the technicalities, despite it being a very simple thing to do and thus miss one of the biggest opportunities to gain links, readers, and traffic.
Done right, a well built network of contacts, friends and like-minded bloggers can seriously help you get the link love you need, both directly and indirectly. Here are a few tips and resources for working your network for better Search traffic:
- Read Chris Garrett’s Networking for Blog Success
- Comment and participate on blogs within your niche — Get to know the people around you
- Email with them, LINK to them, they’ll reciprocate, trust me.
- Expand outside of blogs — find forums, newsletters and groups in your topic
- Use social bookmarking sites to discover related topics (see right hand side) and hence expand your groups, newsletters, forums and blogs search even further
- Above all: Be generous. If you respect your network, and work hard to be part of the community surounding your topic, the rewards can really pay of — never abuse it, it tends ot backfire in all kinds of horrible ways.
4. Bonus Tip
There’s always a bonus tip, didn’t you know?
If you’re really set on learning more, more than my overview here — and if i really can’t dissuade you from getting caught up in what i consider a massive waste of time for the majority of bloggers (technical seo) then at least pay attention to the right people 🙂 Here’s a list of my favorite, and most authoratitive SEO blogs:
- Graywolfs SEO Blog
- Search Engine Watch
- Aaron Wall’s Threadwatch.org
- Greg Boser’s WebGuerrilla
- Matt Cutts – Google
- Jill Whalens HighRankings Forum
- Aaron Wall’s SEOBook.com
- Digital Point Forums
- Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal
- Todd Malicoat’s Stuntdubl.com