Chapter 9 Table of ContentsKey Concepts and Principles
- Understanding How Google Works
- Google Ranking Factors
- Cyber Space Analogy
- My Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan
- Get High-Quality Backlinks
- Target Your Competitors' Best Backlinks
- Other Safe Ways to Get Good Backlinks
- Post "Link Bait" Content on Your Blog
- Build a Social Following
- Send Your Followers to Your Content
- Automate and/or Outsource SEO
Chapter 9: Organic Traffic
Always remember this...
A sale generated through free, organic traffic is always going to put more money in your pocket than a sale generated through paid advertising.Chapter 9 focuses on how to achieve good rankings in Google and the other search engines, which will result in a steady, ongoing stream of free organic traffic to your site. Yes, getting a site ranked in Google (and the other search engines) takes time. You can't earn Page 1 rankings overnight, or even in a week or a month. But by using the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan I'll teach you here in Chapter 9, you can and will achieve Page 1 rankings. And once you do, you'll enjoy an ongoing, steady stream of free traffic. With every passing month, more and more of your orders will come from free, organic traffic. Any extra sales you're still making through the PPC campaigns you're running will just be "icing on the cake." And best of all, the orders you get from organic traffic will have a higher profit per order since you don't have to pay a single penny for organic traffic. All the techniques I'll be teaching you here in Chapter 9 are both effective and safe. No trying to "trick" Google. No exploiting "loopholes" in Google's algorithm. No need to worry that your rankings will disappear with the next algorithm update. I'll teach you what ranking factors Google cares the most about and how to optimize those factors so google loves your site and ranks you high.
Getting a Site Ranked Does Not Need to be Complex
Although Google's search algorithm is extremely complex, what you need to do to get ranked is actually very simple. Google just wants you to build a high-quality website with lots of unique content and then market it on the web basically the same way you'd market a "brick and mortar" business locally. You don't have to - and you shouldn't! - get involved in all kinds of complex link-building schemes, content blasts, SEO blog networks, high-PR link purchases and other "under the table" tricks and techniques. All that mumbo-jumbo is exhausting, short-lived and down-right scary. No thank you! Getting ranked well in Google is really just a matter of a) learning what factors matter to Google, and then b) optimizing for those factors. If you give Google what it wants, Google will reward you with high rankings. And when you're optimized for Google, you'll automatically rank well in the other search engines as well (since they basically just copy Google's algorithm as best they can). Chapter 9 is organized into 3 parts...
- Important SEO principles and concepts (i.e. learning what Google wants)
- Part 1 of my Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan: Get High-Quality Backlinks
- Part 2 of my Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan: Content-Driven Social Marketing
Ready to get started? Let's do it!
Understanding How Google WorksLet's take a few minutes to conceptualize what Google is and to make sure you understand a few important things about how Google works. Watch this short video, then I'll summarize the 3 take-aways I want you to remember.
Take-away #1 - Google ranks individual web pages, not entire websites.This is why on-page optimization is so important and why we took the time back in the store build-out phase to optimize specific pages on your site for specific keyword phrases. Page A on your site should be optimized for Keyword Phrase A, Page B should be optimized for Keyword Phrase B, Page C for Keyword Phrase C, and so on. (Note: Your website's overall "Domain Authority" and overall "Quality Score" are important and play a major role in how well all the pages on your site rank, and we'll talk about this more later on. But it's important to recognize that Google looks at each page of your site separately.)
Take-away #2. Google rankings are unique for each specific keyword phrase.Google doesn't group "similar" keyword phrases together and show the exact same set of results for the entire group of related phrases (although it's of course quite common for highly similar keyword phrases to have a fair amount of overlap in the results). Every keyword phrase (however similar it may be to other keyword phrases) has its own unique set of top 10 results, and you'll have a unique ranking for each separate keyword phrase (aside from the singular and plural version of the same phrase, which Google now treats the same). For example, a particular page on your site might rank #7 for Keyword Phrase X, #9 for Keyword Phrase Y and #3 for Keyword Phrase Z.
Take-away #3. Google hates being tricked and manipulated.
Don't try to outsmart Google 'cuz, guess what... you're going to lose! Don't forget that Google has half the PhDs on the planet working for them! :) If you want to rank well in Google, you simply have to play by their rules. Google will penalize your site if it detects unnatural patterns and link-building techniques. Just stick to the principles and techniques we show you, and you'll be fine.
Google Ranking FactorsGoogle's algorithm considers dozens and dozens - some say it's actually in the hundreds - of different factors to determine how your pages will rank. But at the end of the day, you can really boil it all down into 3 KEY RANKING FACTORS that encompass virtually everything...
- Keyword-optimize the pages you want to get ranked
- Establish your site as a "high-quality" website
- Build your site's "Domain Authority"
Key Factor #1. Keyword-Optimize the Pages You Want to Get RankedGuess what? If you followed the principles we covered in Phase 2, you're already done with this. Good job, you're 1/3 the way done with your SEO already! :D Just to make sure, here's a quick recap of what you should have already done...
- Optimize your home page for your primary keyword phrase by...
- putting the keyword phrase in the page's title tag 1 time;
- putting the keyword phrase in the page's H1 heading 1 time; and
- "sprinkling" the keyword phrase (and closely related LSI keywords) a handful of times throughout the textual content of the page in a natural way.
- Identify 5-10 (or maybe as many as 15-20) additional keyword phrases you'd like to target.
- For each additional keyword phrase, choose the page on your site that would be the "best fit" (1 keyword phrase per page).
- Keyword-optimize each page you've chosen for the keyword phrase you've matched it with (optimize it exactly the same way you keyword-optimized your home page as outlined in #1 above).
Key Factor #2. Establish Your Site as a High-Quality SiteThere's quite a bit that goes into having a "high-quality" website and establishing a high Google Quality Score. Let me highlight the biggest items (some of which we already touched on in Phase 2)...
- Unique Title Tags. Every page of your site should have a unique meta title. In other words, no two pages on your site should have the exact same title tag.
- Abundant Unique Content. Every page on your site should have a fair amount (the more, the better) of 100% original unique content ("hand-written" content, so to speak, that doesn't exist anywhere else on the web). It's critical that you avoid a) duplicate content (i.e. content that's been copied/pasted from another site/page), b) spun content (content that's been run through some kind of "spinning software" to make it look like it's unique, when it's really just re-hashed content using words/phrases that mean the same thing) and c) thin content (pages with little or no textual content on them).
- Constantly Growing and Changing. Google hates stagnant, unchanging websites that just sit there collecting dust. You should constantly be adding new "fresh content" to your site (primarily through an on-site blog, which we'll discuss a little later).
- Good Site Health. Your site shouldn't have any "broken links" (hyperlinks that don't work) or "bad links" (hyperlinks to sketchy sites or completely unrelated sites). Your website should load quickly. Visitors should be able to easily navigate to any page on the site. Low-quality pages (i.e. any page with thin content or duplicate content) should be blocked in your robots exclusion file (as explained in the Pro's Edge box below).
If you're using a first-rate shopping cart platform like Shopify and if you built your store the right way (i.e. the way I showed you in Phase 2), most all of this stuff should be done already. Really, the only thing you need to worry about moving forward is regularly adding fresh, unique content to your site on an ongoing basis. And you'll see in a few minutes how my Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan will take care of all of this. All you need to do is follow it!
Why is Having a High-Quality Website so Important?
Having a high-quality website allows you to retain & benefit from the "domain authority" you'll be building up as you obtain backlinks (which we'll be discussing in 'Key #3' below).Think of it this way... Having a high-quality site is like having a plug for the drain at the bottom of a sink. The backlinks you get are like water filling up the sink. A low-quality website doesn't have a plug covering the drain. So the water all drains out the bottom of the sink. In other words, the backlinks you get won't do you much good and you won't build up domain authority. But a high-quality website has a plug covering the drain. So as you obtain backlinks, your domain authority will grow (just like water filling up the sink). It's kind of a strange analogy, I know. :) But it does a good job of illustrating why it's so important to have a high-quality website. You'll have a hard time building your domain authority if your site sucks, no matter how many and how good of backlinks you obtain!
Pro's Edge: How to Block Low-Quality Pages in Your Robots Exclusion File
Key Factor #3. Build Your Site's Domain AuthorityDomain authority is basically a measure of how important and authoritative your website is. You acquire domain authority through "connections" with other sites on the web. We like to categorize these "connections" into 2 buckets:
- Backlinks from other sites on the web (such as informational sites, blogs, forums, ecommerce sites, etc.)
- Connections to social networking sites (Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.), which we call "social signals"
1 + 2 + 3 = Rankings!Let me take a minute to show you how the "Big 3" key ranking factors fit together. But I want to do it in reverse order...
- Key factor #3 (getting backlinks and boosting your social signals) is how you actually build your Domain Authority so you can rank.
- Key factor #2 (having a high Quality Score) shows Google that your site is deserving of good rankings and allows you to retain the Domain Authority you're building.
- And key factor #1 (keyword-optimizing your pages) tells Google what each page is about so Google knows which keyword phrase each page should rank for (now that you've proven you deserve good rankings).
- Keyword-optimize your pages
- Have a high-quality site
- Build your Domain Authority
In the next section, I'll use the analogy of "cyber space" to kind of recap everything we've learned. Then I'll finally introduce you to my Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan. :)
Cheaters Never Prosper!
Like I said before, Google absolutely hates cheaters. The most common area where people try to "cheat" is in obtaining backlinks to their site (key factor #3). Google doesn't want you to get backlinks by trading for them or buying them. Google wants to see naturally occurring backlinks you get because your site has awesome content that other sites choose to link to. (My Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan shows you exactly how to do this!) Many (probably even most) "SEO techniques" promoted out on the web do NOT follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines (i.e. Google's rules for playing fair & marketing your site in a natural, non-manipulative way). They exploit weaknesses (i.e. loopholes) in Google's algorithm that allows them to achieve high rankings quickly. But the inflated rankings are extremely short-lived because the PhDs at Google quickly see what's happening and update the algorithm to patch the hole. And guess what happens? Everyone who was using the "black-hat" SEO techniques sees their rankings disappear overnight and in many cases have their site penalized (so it never ranks again)! PLEASE don't allow yourself to get sucked in by promises and guarantees of stellar rankings obtained overnight (or anything close to overnight). You'll spend a lot of money on a software/service that is going to do you way more harm than good! Achieving good rankings that will last takes time and effort. The approach I'll show you in my Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan uses nothing but safe, effective methods that Google approves of. In other words, I'll be teaching you how Google wants you to market your store.
Cyber Space Analogy on Building Domain AuthorityWe often refer to the Internet as "cyber space," so let's go with that concept and compare it to outer space (as in stars and planets and galaxies and Star Trek). :) In this short (embarrassingly low-quality) video we put together, pay close attention to how getting backlinks to your website builds your domain authority. Before we move on, I just want to emphasize one very important thing... All backlinks are NOT created equal. Google is way smarter than that! A single high-quality backlink is more valuable than dozens - even hundreds! - of low-quality backlinks. Just a handful of high-quality links can get you onto the 1st page of Google. On the other end of the spectrum, some backlinks are worthless and some can even get your site penalized. You may have heard that backlinks are like "votes" for a website and that Google gives the best rankings to the sites with the most votes. I'm sort of okay with this analogy, but only if we specify that some votes are WAY more valuable than other votes. It's like the electoral college for the US Presidential election. Each of the 50 states isn't worth the same number of votes. Each state's vote is "weighted" based on its population. California is worth 55 votes, Texas is worth 38, New York and Florida are worth 29, and so on... all the way down to states like Montana and Wyoming that are only worth 3 votes. Going out and getting a "California-like" backlink (worth 55 votes) is obviously going to boost your Domain Authority A LOT MORE than going out and getting a "Montana-like" backlink (worth 3 votes). And you also need to recognize that spammy backlinks are worth absolutely nothing and can even hurt your rankings or get your site penalized! Bottom line: As you're getting backlinks to building your Domain Authority, it's all about the QUALITY of the backlinks!
My Insanely Simple SEO Marketing PlanLadies and gentlemen, this is the moment you've been waiting for. :) We're done talking about SEO principles and concepts, and I'm now ready to introduce you to my Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan. I've spent years developing and fine-tuning this baby, and I'm pretty proud of it (if I do say so myself). Two of the biggest struggles website owners seem to have with marketing their store are 1) figuring out where to start and 2) choosing among the hundreds and hundreds of "SEO techniques" being advertised and talked about on the web. It's simply overwhelming! That's why I love the simplicity of the marketing plan I've put together... and why I've named it the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing plan. The 2 simple components of the plan represent the sum total of what I do - and what you'll need to do - to get a site ranked really well in Google and the other search engines.
Goals of the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing PlanLet me quickly re-state the 3 key factors for getting ranked well in Google and point at where you're currently at on each...
- Key Factor #1. Keyword-optimize the individual pages you're trying to get ranked (you've already done this).
- Key Factor #2. Have a high-quality site (you've already done this) and continually add fresh, new content to it (you still need to do this).
- Key Factor #3. Build your site's domain authority by getting backlinks (you still need to do this) and by boosting your social signals (you still need to do this).
- continually add fresh, unique content to your site,
- get high-quality backlinks to your site, and
- boost your social signals.
Part 1. Get High-Quality BacklinksThere are 2 separate components of the plan. Part 1 is about getting high-quality backlinks.
Part 2. Content-Driven Social MarketingI know what some of you are thinking...
- adding new content to your site,
- boosting your social signals, and
- even getting some natural backlinks.
As you hopefully recall, those are the 3 goals of the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan! With content-driven social marketing, you get them all in one shot!
Here's an overview of how content-driven social marketing works... Step 1 - Post hot-topic "link bait" content on your site (primarily on your on-site blog) that will appeal to "link creators" in your market (i.e. people with the means to link to your site). This takes care of goal #1 (i.e. regularly adding new content to your site) AND it gives you interesting content on your site you can send people to (more on this in step 3). Step 2 - Build a social following on the "Big 3" social networking sites of link creators in your market who are truly interested in your topic (i.e. market). Truly interested is the key here. It doesn't do you any good to get your Facebook friends to "like" your page or "follow" you. What you want is followers who are truly interested in your topic... people who are passionate about it, who talk about it out on social networking sites, and who post content about it on their own sites. I'll of course show you how to actually do all this. (Note: This takes care of goal #3: boost social signals.) Step 3 - Tell your social followers (made up of link creators) about your awesome content, then sit back and watch as...
- your followers like, share and re-tweet your posts;
- your following grows as your followers' followers become your followers; and
- your followers post backlinks to your site because they like your content (you don't even have to ask them to do it)!
Executing the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing PlanYou may be wondering...
Part 1 of the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan: Get High-Quality Backlinks
Looking Natural to GoogleSince we're going to be going out and posting/requesting backlinks to our site, it's absolutely critical that we make it look 100% natural to Google. I don't want to scare you too much here, because all of these methods I'll be showing you are completely safe. I've been using them with great success for many years. But there are many "black-hat" SEO techniques out there that are NOT safe. Link-building strategies of the past (reciprocal links, link networks, link exchange communities, splog networks, private blog networks, link spamming on blogs/forums, article blasts, buying high-PR links, etc.) simply do not work anymore and can easily get you penalized. Please don't get sucked in by promises of overnight rankings! Your time atop the rankings mountain will be short-lived, and then your site will never rank again. Just stick to the methods I'll show you here, and you'll be just fine. So what does a natural-looking link look like, you ask? Well, I'll tell you... :)
- The linking sites should be at least loosely related to your general market/topic (it looks very unnatural for a completely unrelated site to link to your site).
- The anchor text (i.e. the "blue, underlined text" that you click on) of the backlinks should be varied and different... some URL links, some domain/brand-focused links, some "click here" type links, relatively low percentage (10-20%) of keyword-targeted links (it looks very unnatural for a large percentage of backlinks to have the exact same anchor text).
- Links should come from a good mix of different types of websites (it looks very unnatural for all of your links to come from the same type of website - i.e. blogs).
- Links should be obtained gradually over time (it looks very unnatural to get dozens or hundreds of backlinks overnight).
Quality > QuantityYeah, I know, we've already talked about this (several times, I'm sure). But it's so important that I'll say it again... We are infinitely more interested in the QUALITY of the backlinks you get than the quantity of backlinks you get. Low-quality backlinks will do you no good at all (you'll seriously just be wasting your time). Spammy backlinks will actually hurt you and potentially get you penalized (so your site will never rank for anything)! The only way to build Domain Authority is by getting high-quality backlinks that Google will actually care about.
So What is a "High-Quality" Backlink?First and foremost, a high-quality backlink is a link from a website that has a lot of Domain Authority itself. Backlinks "pass" authority from one website to another website. A website that has really low Domain Authority can only "pass" a small amount of domain authority to the sites it links to (because it doesn't have much authority itself). Websites that have A LOT of domain authority obviously "pass" a lot more authority to the sites it links to. (Note: By linking to other sites, it's not like the site is "giving away" its authority. You don't need to be afraid to post backlinks on your site.) How can you tell if a website has a lot of Domain Authority? Well, there are tools that can tell you (and I'll introduce one to you here shortly). But one way to tell if a site has a lot of Domain Authority is to see how well it's ranking. Sites ranking near the top of Google's search results are bound to have a lot of Domain Authority (hence the reason they're ranking so well)! What are the other characteristics of a high-quality backlink? Let me list them for you...
- The linking page is topically related to your site.
- The linking page is on a well-structured site that looks legitimate and up to date.
- The linking page isn't plastered with all kinds of ads and paid links.
- The backlink isn't in the footer as a "run-of-site" link that appears on every page of the site (this is a clear indication that it's a paid link).
- Similarly, the backlink isn't in the "blogroll" section of a blog's sidebar (also indicative of a paid link).
- The backlink is a "followable" link (as opposed to a "no-follow link" - i.e. a link tagged with rel="nofollow" - which are ignored by Google and which do not "pass" authority).
- The backlink isn't on a directory website (directory links have become worthless).
Target Your Top-Ranking Competitors' Highest-Value Backlinks
For over a decade now, the #1 approach we've used to get high-value backlinks is to target our top-ranking competitors' highest-value backlinks. Let me explain why this approach is so powerful... The primary reason they rank so high in Google is that they have a lot of high-value backlinks, right? So it stands to reason that if you obtain the same (or similar) backlinks that they have, you'll climb to the top of the rankings too! And since they were able to obtain a backlink from the sites linking to them, there's a good chance you'll be able to as well.
Let's say you're able to obtain just a few (maybe 5-10%) of the same (or similar) backlinks as the #1 ranking site in your market. Then you're able to obtain just a few of the same (or similar) backlinks as the #2 ranking site. Then just a few of the same links as the #3 ranking site, #4 ranking site and so on all the way through, say, the #10 or #20 ranking site. Look at the end result... Your backlink profile will be AMAZING! You'll have a better collection of high-value backlinks than any one of your competitors because your backlink profile will be comprised of the "best of the best" (the best backlinks of the best sites in your market). And your backlink profile will be unique from any individual competitor since you'll have just a few of the same (or similar) links as any one competitor. Do you see how powerful this approach is? It's flat-out genius (if I do say so myself). ;) Like I said, this is the main link-building approach we've used to get ranked for all of the highly profitable stores we've run (many of which made over $5k/month and sold for 6 figures). Now, if only there was a tool that made this easy to do... :)
Introducing Rank Master ProBack in the good ol' days, we used to do everything manually. It was extremely tedious and time-consuming. We'd create dozens of complex spreadsheets, fetch backlink information from lots of different sources, and try to keep track of all our link-building efforts in Excel. There was A LOT of overlap from spreadsheet to spreadsheet and, no matter how hard we'd try, we'd unintentionally duplicate a lot of our efforts (and annoy a lot of webmasters, who consequently wouldn't give us links). Worst of all, it would take a good 20-30 minutes of non-productive time just to get set up, get our bearings and get ready to start. Eventually, we just couldn't take it anymore! We looked for a safe, effective, reasonably-priced tool that did what we wanted it to do, but we simply couldn't find one. So, just like we did with Niche Finder Pro, we decided to build our own tool. We created Rank Master Pro. Rank Master Pro makes it a piece of cake to identify the high-value backlinks of the top-ranking competitors in your market and then go after the same (or similar) backlinks yourself...
- It identifies the top-ranking sites in your market (based on the keyword phrase(s) you enter).
- It identifies the highest-value backlinks to each of the top-ranking sites you select.
- It organizes all the backlinks into 1 master list (removing all duplicates and identifying "hubs" that link to multiple competitors), sorted from highest value to lowest value.
- It helps you easily locate the backlink on the linking page and the email address of the webmaster.
- It stores email templates you've created and auto-fills "placeholders" you've inserted into the templates.
- It provides a super-slick interface for tracking your efforts to obtain the same (or similar) backlinks.
- It automatically identifies when you've obtained new links and adds them to your backlink profile report.
Basically, Rank Master Pro does all the "dirty work" for you. It seriously makes link-building about 10x easier than it used to be. And best of all, it makes it possible for you (or your customer service person or someone on your staff) to "pop in" for 10-15 minutes here and there throughout the day and actually be productive. Seriously, I'd say the #1 challenge we faced before Rank Master Pro was carving out a solid 1-2 hour block of time for dedicated link-building. But with Rank Master Pro, it takes all of ~30 seconds to log in and pick up right where you left off. It's completely revolutionized our link-building efforts. Ready for the best part? Rank Master Pro is FREE for Pro Members! :)
Other Safe Ways to Get Good BacklinksIn addition to targeting your competitors' highest-value backlinks using Rank Master Pro, there are a handful of other effective, safe ways to get 1-way backlinks to your site. I'll introduce each of them in the following video, and then I'll provide more details down below the video.
"Change of Address" Technique
This technique is highly effective and incredibly easy to do, especially with Rank Master Pro. Basically, all you're doing is finding an expired domain name that still has some high-quality backlinks pointing to it, "claiming" the expired domain as yours (it is expired, after all :) ), and then informing the webmasters of the sites linking to it that your site has "moved" to a new domain name (your domain name). Not too long ago, we did a live webinar demonstrating how to use the Change of Address technique to easily get lots of high-value backlinks.
How to Identify Expired Domain Names
It's a simple 2-step process... Step 1. Use a free plug-in like LinkChecker (for Firefox users) or Check My Links (for Chrome users) to highlight all of the broken links on the page (i.e. hyperlinks where the linked-to page URL does not exist). Step 2. Even though you know the link is dead, click on it anyway. Then manually delete everything except the root domain name from the URL (so that you're attempting to load the home page). If the home page won't load either, you know that the website is completely down and can assume the domain name is expired. Note: If you'd like to make absolutely sure the domain name is expired, you could always look up the domain name at NameCheap.com. But we typically don't bother with this step. If the home page doesn't load, it's a pretty safe bet that the domain name has been abandoned.
Broken Link Recovery
This technique isn't quite as effective as the Change of Address technique, but it's still quite effective (a much higher success rate than "cold calling" webmasters and asking for a link). It's actually pretty darn similar to the Change of Address technique, but rather than claiming that you owned an expired domain which has now "moved" to a new domain, you simply point out the broken link and ask the webmaster to replace it with a link to your site. As you should have learned earlier here in Chapter 9, having broken links on your site hurts your Google Quality Score and holds you back in the rankings. So you're doing webmasters a favor (which you may want to subtly point out to them ;) ) when you let them know about broken links on their site. Since you're actually doing something for them, webmasters are more inclined to give you a link (i.e. replace the broken link with a link to your site) to show their gratitude. One other thing I want to point out is that you can use the Broken Link Recovery technique for any broken link (i.e. bad URL), even if the website the linked-to page belongs to is still active. (Contrast this with the Change of Address technique, which can only be used if the domain name is expired and the entire website is down.) So when I find a broken link on a page, what I'll do is try going to the home page of the website (i.e. domain-name.com). If the home page is down, I can pretty safely assume the domain has expired and I'll use the Change of Address technique. If the home page is still active, it's clear that it's merely a bad URL and I'll use the Broken Link Recovery technique instead.
How to Identify Broken Links on a Page
It's really simple. If you read the expandable box above, you'll notice that it's just "Step 1" for identifying expired domain names. All you have to do is install a free plug-in like LinkChecker (for Firefox users) or Check My Links (for Chrome users). The plug-in will highlight all of the broken links on the page (i.e. hyperlinks where the linked-to page URL does not exist).
Post Followable Backlinks on Authority Forums Within Your MarketVirtually every market has at least a few "authority forums" (i.e. forums that rank well and have a lot of Domain Authority). There may not be any forums for your specific niche product line, but if you "go up a level" to a slightly broader topic you can certainly find plenty of blogs in the same general market that your niche is in. Just do a simple Google search for '[your market] forum' and look through the top 2-3 pages of results. What exactly are you looking for? You're trying to find topically relevant forums that allow its members to post "followable" links (aka "clean" links, as I like to call them). See the expandable section below on how to differentiate between clean links and no-follow links. Probably more than half of the forums you'll find use a forum platform (i.e. software) that automatically adds the "no-follow" tag to hyperlinks that users insert into their posts. You're not really interested in these forums since any links you post won't be counted by Google. (That being said, you may want to jot down the URLs of these forums - especially if they have a lot of members and seem to have a lot of daily activity - for purposes of getting direct traffic to your site, which we'll be discussing in Chapter 10.) When you find an authority forum that gives clean links, here's what to do...
- Become a member of the forum (i.e. create an account).
- Participate & contribute to the conversation for 2-3 weeks (don't immediately post a link to your site in your very first post - it will almost for sure be removed by the forum owner/moderator).
- After 2-3 weeks of active participation, either...
- a) add a link to your "signature" (which appears below all of your posts), OR
- b) pose as a customer and ask if anyone else owns [product X, as a hyperlink on your site] and if they're happy with it.
Once you've gotten a link from the forum (and it sticks for 2-3 days), you can pretty much just forget about that forum and move on to other link-building opportunities (unless it's a super popular, high-traffic forum you think you can get some direct traffic form, which we'll discuss in Chapter 10). There's no sense in trying to post multiple links on the same forum, since Google doesn't really reward you for having multiple backlinks from the same website.
How to Differentiate Between Clean Links and No-Follow Links
All you need is a free plug-in called the Moz toolbar. Here are the download links for Firefox and for Chrome. Once you install the Moz toolbar, no-follow links will be highlighted on the page. Easy-peasy. :)
Help A Reporter Out (HARO)Another cool link-building opportunity we recently discovered is called Help A Reporter Out (HARO). This site's purpose is to help reporters, journalists and bloggers find sources they can quote in stories or articles they're writing. After you create a free account, you can sign up to be notified (via email) when a reporter is looking for a source within your market or topic area. Each time you receive an email from HARO, just skim through it to see if there's an opportunity that looks interesting or promising. When you find one, simply respond with the information they requested, making sure to include your domain name (as your business name) in the response.
Find "Resources" Pages in Your MarketYes... I know this is a little "old school" :) ... but it still works. You won't have nearly as high of a success rate as you will with the Change of Address or Broken Link Recovery techniques, but you can still get some good backlinks. Just do a Google search for phrases like these...
- [keyword phrase] resources
- [keyword phrase] resources page
- [keyword phrase] friends
- [keyword phrase] "sites (that) we love"
- [keyword phrase] link partners
- [keyword phrase] links
- [keyword phrase] partners
Part 2 of the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan: Content-Driven Social Marketing
Post Hot-Topic "Link Bait" Content on Your BlogLet's pause for a minute to get our bearings. We just finished up talking about how to safely and effectively go out and get high-quality backlinks to immediately start building your domain authority (i.e. Part 1 of the Insanely Simple SEO Marketing Plan). We're now moving on to Part 2: Content-Driven Social Marketing. Like I said earlier, content-driven social marketing kills 3 birds with 1 stone...
- You'll constantly be adding new high-quality content to your site,
- you'll boost your social signals, and
- you'll even get some naturally-occurring backlinks (to supplement the backlinks you're getting through Part 1 of the plan).
Posting Content Worth SharingEasier said than done, right? Yeah, sure, everything is... but it's really not that difficult! The key is to choose topics that people are interested in and passionate about. People talk about and share things they're passionate about without even thinking about it. No asking, pleading, begging or even inviting necessary. They just do it naturally!
- You'll go nuts trying to think of things to write about (and want to jump off a cliff within 2-3 weeks). :(
- Nobody will want to read your insanely boring blog posts (and the whole social marketing thing won't work for you). :(
Who is Your Target Audience?Any literature professor will tell you that it's absolutely critical to define your target audience BEFORE you begin writing. So, who are you writing these blog posts for? Your target audience is potential customers who will be interested in buying the products you sell, right? FALSE! Your blog posts should NOT be written for your potential customers! Confused? This is probably the most common mistake we see website owners make. They write blog post after blog post written for the wrong audience. Remember, what's the primary reason for doing content marketing? It's NOT to generate sales; it's to get backlinks! The problem with writing blog posts tailored to potential customers is that 99% of your potential customers don't have the ability to link to your website! The average customer doesn't own a website themselves, so how can they post a link to your site? They can't! Your blog posts should target "link creators" in your market. Who is a link creator? It's someone who owns a website in your general market and who regularly posts content about your topic. These are the people who have the ability to link to your site. So that's who you want to target!
Coming Up with Blog Topic IdeasBlog writing is fairly easy... once you come up with a good idea of what to write about! But coming up with those ideas can be difficult, especially after you've been at it for a few weeks and have exhausted your initial list of ideas you came up with. But with some quick up-front leg work, you can set it up so blog topic ideas literally come to you! Before you start blogging, you should identify several good sources for hot-topic stories and news related to your chosen passion/topic. Either bookmark these sites or, even better, subscribe to their RSS feed to receive updates directly to your email or RSS reader. In the Pro's Edge box below, I'll share some advanced tips that will help you set up a never-ending stream of killer blog topic ideas.
Pro's Edge: "Hot Topic" Blog Post Idea Generator
Regularly Post 2+ Blog Entries Each WeekIt's important to add new blog entries regularly... at least once a week, but 2-3 posts a week is definitely preferred. Why? For a few reason...
- As we've discussed several times now, regularly adding new pages and content to your site improves your Google Quality Score.
- Posting regularly keeps your readers attentive and interested.
- Posting regularly also keeps your social profile pages active (more on this later).
Occasionally Post a Really Good "Link Bait" Post
Not every post can be an "epic" post with the potential to "go viral" within your niche. But every once in a while, you need to write a really good "link bait post" (as I call them) that you think will be extremely interesting to your social followers... something likely to be shared and linked to. This could be an embedded video, a "best of the web" type compilation of ideas/stories, an interesting graphic (or infographic) or anything else likely to generate "buzz." Your 2-3 regular weekly posts are basically "primers" for your occasional link bait posts. They keep the audience engaged and attentive, and they build up your social following so you have somebody to share the link bait posts with. But these once-a-month (or so) link bait posts are the ones where you're really trying to drum up shares and backlinks. They don't necessarily have to be "special" or insanely time-consuming to put together; they just need to be extra interesting. Check out the Pro's Edge box below for examples and ideas.
Pro's Edge: Examples & Ideas for "Link Bait" Posts
Alright, that about does it for the first step of the content-driven social marketing plan (i.e. adding interesting content to your on-site blog). In the next section, I'll show you how to build up a social following of people who are truly interested in and passionate about the topics your're posting blog entries about so you can "spoon-feed" the content to them and see the magic happen.
Build a Social Following
You're working hard to add lots of good, interesting content to your on-site blog. Now you need a social following to tell about it! Once you have a good-sized social following, you can "feed it" any content you want. You'll get to the point where every time you post a new blog entry (and particularly a really good link bait post) and tell your followers about it, you'll get several new backlinks to your site (boosting your domain authority and your rankings).
The Power of Social Networking SitesYou never heard the phrase "going viral" until social networking sites became popular. Now you hear it all the time. That's because the social networking sites make it possible. Let me explain how (using Twitter as an example)... When you post a message (called a "tweet") on Twitter, all of your followers can see it in their "feed" (i.e. a continuous list of all the tweets made by someone they're following). So let's say you have 300 followers. When you tweet something, all 300 of your followers could potentially see it (because they're following you). Now, here's where it gets interesting (and powerful). Let's say that out of your 500 followers, 5 of them see your tweet and like it enough to take 2 seconds to click the "re-tweet" button. By clicking that button, your tweet is now going to show up in the "feed" of all of their followers. Let's assume that each of your 5 followers who re-tweeted your tweet had, on average, 500 followers themselves. Now there are another 2,500 people (5 re-tweets x 500 followers each) who are potentially going to see your tweet! (And they aren't even your followers... they're your followers' followers!) Let's say that out of those 2,500 people, 20 of them re-tweet it (or comment on it... the result is the same). Your tweet is now going to show up in the feed of all of their followers, resulting in your tweet going out to thousands more people. And so it goes, on and on, generation after generation. The "share rate" will no-doubt go down a little with each generation, but the number of people potentially seeing your tweets goes up exponentially. A couple days after your initial tweet, it could be viewed by a follower of a follower of a follower of a follower of a follower of a follower of a follower of a follower of a follower (okay, you get the idea). :) Thousands of people could eventually see your tweet... all from just a handful of your 500 followers liking it enough to click "re-tweet" (or commenting on it). Oh, another cool thing I forgot to mention... Many of these "followers of followers of followers" will become your followers if they like what you're posting and want to see more of your stuff. So in addition to getting the "viral multiplier effect" working for you, your social following will be growing as well (making it that much easier to get a few initial re-tweets to get the ball rolling). (Note: I used Twitter as an example, but the concepts are virtually identical for Google+ and Facebook. The terminology used on each social networking site is just a little different.)
The Right Kind of FollowersI sense a few skeptics among us. :) Let me show off my psychic abilities and tell you exactly what you're thinking, skeptic...
Building a Social Following
Once you reach a critical mass, your following will kind of just grow organically on its own as you simply follow the social marketing plan. But you've got to get to that critical mass point first! So the question is: how do you build up an initial following? The Pro's Edge box below is loaded with techniques and tips for building up a following of people truly interested in your topic - and especially influencers. In the next section, we'll put 2 and 2 together to show how awesome blog content + a social following = 100% natural backlinks.
Pro's Edge: How to Build an Initial Social Following
Tips for getting followers (and holding onto them)
- Use the #keyword feature in your tweets, but don't abuse it. Put 1-2 in your average tweet and use them inline within the Tweet. Same goes for the @author feature. Whenever you mention a company, website, blog, person within your industry in a tweet, give them credit with the @author tag. See an example of a tweet using both of these tags here.
- When people mention you or reply to you, make sure you reply back (using the @author tag of course). That is how conversations are held on Twitter. You write @THEIRusername and they reply @YOURusername.
- Do a search at google for: [MAIN ROOT KEYWORD] + BLOG
- Check out the top 10-15 ranking websites and try to identify a handful of blogs (at least 3) that are regularly posting high quality content about your general topic (i.e. dogs). Subscribe to their RSS feeds (preferrably by email) so you get notified of each new post without having to visit daily.
- Each day, skim through the list of new posts that you receive in your RSS feed. When one catches your eye, read it, and if you like it, do the following:
- Find the author's twitter profile and 'Follow' them (it's ALMOST always linked to from the blog post page somewhere, and if not, just search twitter for their full name).
- Write a quick tweet about their story (formatted something like this: Great article about dealing with #fleas on #dogs: http://tinyurl.com/6wczsll by @lorieahuston).
- By using the @author tag you are making it so YOUR tweet shows up in THEIR Twitter Feed and they will most likely see it. They do NOT have to be following you to see your tweet when you use the @username tag.
- By crediting them, you are feeding their ego and they often follow you on Twitter. Better yet, they may retweet or reply and this will make your tweet visible to all of THEIR followers (oftentimes, they will have thousands within your specific topic).
Send Your Followers to Your ContentWhat are you waiting for?! You have killer blog content. You have a social following. Introduce them to one another and let the sparks start flying! :) Like I've said several times now, the goal here is to get backlinks to your site because people in your social following (and in their social followings) find your blog posts interesting, entertaining or useful. They'll link to your blog posts because they like your content, completely on their own. (The direct traffic you'll get to your site is a nice "side benefit" that may result in a few sales, but the main objective is to get people to post backlinks to your blog posts.) Watch this quick video, and then I'll go over a couple key points...
Make sharing, following & commenting easy. Back in section Chapter 6 of the training, I walked you through a few critical steps for configuring your on-site blog to make it possible and easy for visitors to a) share your posts, b) follow you and/or c) make a comment. Hopefully you've already gotten that all set up. If not, make sure to do so now. Mix it up! What do you think is going to happen if every single post you make in your social profile accounts is about your new blog post? You'll quickly lose your followers' interest... and likely your followers, too! :( You have to mix it up and keep it real. Share and comment on others' stories and posts. Post funny stuff. Link to fresh, interesting news stories that just came out. Even link to other people's websites and blogs (as long as they're not direct competitors). You'll of course want to post updates about your new blog posts as well, but they shouldn't be the only thing you ever post about. Use HootSuite. HootSuite makes it super easy to simultaneously post to all major social networking sites so you don't have to manually log in and post to each one separately. It's like having a single login for all things social. And with HootSuite, you can also do cool things like scheduling several posts in advance (which makes it possible to spend ~20 minutes once every few days to schedule out several posts to go out over the next several days, instead of having to log in several times each day). Consider using our link building team. Link building is extremely powerful and the key to organic rankings (aka free targeted visitors to your website)... but it's not all that easy to do yourself! There's a good-sized learning curve, and even once you "get it," it still takes a lot of time and dedication to actually go out and get links. By popular demand from our members, we recently introduced a service that basically lets you outsource your entire link building campaign to our team. You can get actual members of our team - the same team we use to get our 60+ web stores ranked - to spend time each month building backlinks to your website. Click here to learn more about our link building service and find out how we can help you improve your search engine rankings!
Automate and/or Outsource SEOCongratulations! You've just about done with Chapter 9, which is without a doubt the most intense, complex chapter of the entire training course. Before I send you on to Chapter 10, I want to take just a couple minutes to talk about ways you can either automate your SEO efforts or outsource them completely. Because SEO is a) time-intensive, b) somewhat challenging and c) easy to put off until tomorrow (or next week, or next month), it often gets neglected or completely ignored. Which is silly, isn't it?! I mean, getting ranked well in Google and the other search engines is the #1 key to your success and profitability, but a lot of store owners simply don't do it (or don't put enough time into it). SEO work is one of the easiest things to outsource, but it's also one of the scariest things to outsource. It's absolutely critical that you only hire people or firms that follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines. It's one thing to say you use only Google-safe, white-hat SEO techniques; it's quite another to actually do it! As in all things in life, you get what you pay for! And I've said it probably 5 times already, but I'll say it again... don't fall victim to a new, revolutionary tool or technique that promises #1 rankings overnight (or anywhere close to it). You're going to waste a lot of money and do more long-term harm than good.
Rank Master Pro is a must-have tool for getting high-quality, 1-way backlinks. Before we developed Rank Master Pro, I did link-building manually for years. And I can honestly tell you that this tool makes the process 10x easier! While Rank Master Pro's primary purpose is to help you obtain your top-ranking competitors' highest-value backlinks, it's also extremely helpful for several other link-building techniques (including the "Change of Address" technique and the "Broken Link Recovery" technique). Whether you plan to use it yourself or have an employee/staff member use it, Rank Master Pro is a must-have tool for getting high-quality 1-way backlinks. And the best part is that you get access to Rank Master Pro FREE with Pro Membership!
For Those Looking to Outsource All the Blog Writing...
Hate writing? Yeah, most people do... which unfortunately makes the content-driven social marketing stuff impossible. That's why we created My Blog Squad, a 100% hands-free blogging service that essentially puts your blog on auto-pilot. Our team a) researches and finds interesting hot topics to write about, b) writes 100% unique, high-quality posts, c) logs in and posts them on your blog and d) posts updates on each of your "Big 3" social profile pages (optionally). We offer 3 plans: 1 post/week, 2 posts/week or 3 posts/week. Our writers are all "born-and-raised" Americans, and talented writers to boot. Check out the plans and pricing here.