On Page SEO Factors to Get Right
In this blog, we have to explain the all the top On page SEO factors that Necessary for achieving High ranking in the Search engine like google, yahoo etc. This blog also explains the Top 100 Tips for On Page SEO.
The Title Tag
The title tag is probably the most important ranking factor on your page in terms of SEO benefits. It is also vital in terms of persuading Google searchers to click on your link in the SERPs. In the *source code of your web page, the title tag looks like this:
<title>Title Goes Here</title>
*The source code is also an essential factor with regards to SEO, as it allows search engine bots to better read your page and page elements.
Search engines look at the words in your title tag to determine what your page is about. Therefore, you should try to get your main keyword phrase into the title.
The closer to the beginning of the title tag your keyword is, the better it will serve you. If I was writing a web page about the health benefits of Olive oil, the important phrases in that search terms are Olive oil and health benefits.
If I do a search on Google for health benefits of Olive oil, here are the title tags of the top five pages ranking for that term.
Olive oil: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, and Warnings – WebMD
Olive Oil Benefits – Learn all the Wonderful Benefits of Olive Oil
Benefits of Olive Oil with Omega 3 Fats
Why Olive Oil Is Good for Your Heart | Olive Oil Benefits
Olive Oil: Benefits, Dangers & Side Effects - Drugs.com | Prescription Drug Information, Interactions & Side Effects
All of these pages are from authority sites in the health niche, so they will have a massive ranking advantage over smaller sites. Anyway, the point is that you can still see they’ve included the main keywords in the title tag.
All five pages have the phrase Olive oil near the beginning of the tag, and some duplicate that phrase at the end as well. Where possible, always try to get the most important words at or near the beginning of the title tag.
The big omission in those titles is the word “health”. Not one of those five pages includes that word in their title tag. However, all five of these sites are massive health authority sites, so Google can pretty much assume the benefits refer to health.
Only the first page in the ranking does not use either the word health or benefit(s), but that is WebMD. WebMD is an authority site that Google trusts for all health-related searches.
The way Google has evolved over recent years means it can now accurately determine a searcher’s intent. If someone searches for health benefits of Olive oil, Google will understand that they are looking for the kind of information provided by that #1 ranked WebMD article. WebMD has earned their reputation.
When creating your title tag, try to write one that not only includes the words that make up your main phrase or concept but something that entices people to click your link when they read the title. Keep your title tag to 70 characters or less. Any longer than that and it gets truncated in the search results.
Title tags on every page of your site should be unique. Never use the same title tag on two or more pages.
It is worth monitoring the click-through rates (CTR) for your pages. If the CTR appears low, you can tweak the title tag to see if you can increase the CTR. The Title and Meta Description tags are the two variables you have the most control over in your quest for better CTR in the Google SERPs.
The Meta Description Tag
The Meta Description tag is not as important as the title tag, but you should still create a unique, interesting and enticing description on all of your pages nonetheless. Google will sometimes use the Meta Description tag in the search results, as the description of a listing, so it's worth creating a good one just in case.
In the source code of your web page, the Meta Description looks like this:<meta name=”description” content=”Description goes here.”/>
Here are the Meta Descriptions of the top five pages ranking in Google for the Olive oil term we used earlier.
1. Find patient medical information for Olive Oil on WebMD including its uses, effectiveness, side effects, and safety, interactions, user ratings and products that have it.
2. Olive Oil will protect your heart, lower your cholesterol, relieve PMS symptoms, fight aging and inflammation, optimize your brain’s capabilities, and boost your overall health!
3. Olive Oil is one of the best sources of omega 3 fats, which greatly influence your gene expression and overall health.
4. Olive oil supplementation helps reduce triglyceride levels in adults, lowering your risk of heart disease.
5. Olive Oil information from Drugs.com | Prescription Drug Information, Interactions & Side Effects, includes Olive Oil side effects, interactions, and indications.
As you can see, all five Meta Descriptions include the main keyword phrase Olive Oil. However, they don’t use the words "health" or "benefits" as much as the page title.
What you will see is other related words and phrases appearing, like protect your heart, lower cholesterol, supplement/supplementation, risks, heart disease, etc.
These are some of the niche vocabularies for the search term, and it’s a great idea to get some of the important vocabularies into the Meta Description (and title if you can fit it in).
When I write a Meta Description, I always create it at the same time as I do the title tag. I want them to complement each other. I will have a list of the most significant words and phrases in a hierarchy, with the most important ones at the top.
Top of my list for this search term would be Olive oil and health benefits (or just benefits if my site was a health site). Lower down my list would be phrases like lower triglycerides, heart health, and side effects, etc.
The most important phrase, in this case, Olive oil, would go into both tags. The Title would be written to include any other vital keywords related to the search term (like health benefits), while the Description would be used to include some of the niche vocabularies.
Combined, the Title and Meta Description tags would work together to cover the most important words and phrases related to my article.
The Meta Keyword Tag
The Meta Keyword tag is a place where you can list keywords and key phrases related to your web page.
In the source code, it looks like this:
<meta name=”keywords” content=”Keyword1, keyword 2, etc”>
A few years ago, search engines actually used the Meta Keyword tag as a ranking factor, and so took notice of the words and phrases inside it. Today, however, the search engines do not give you any boost in rankings for this tag. It is my belief that search engines may use it to spot spammers and award penalties to those who still think it might be a ranking factor.
Any page that has a keyword stuffed Meta Keyword tag is breaking the webmaster's guidelines as laid down by Google. I also believe that webmasters who do this are penalized, depending on the extent and frequency that they try to exploit this tag.
I personally do not use this tag on my sites and do not recommend you bother with it either. If you do want to use it, make sure you only include a small number of keywords. Note too, that they must relate to your content, meaning every single word or phrase you include in this tag is actually on your web page (important).
Let’s have a quick look at the Meta Keywords used by the top five sites for the Olive oil search term.
1.Olive oil, effectiveness, satisfaction, ease of use, uses, user ratings, user reviews, side effects, safety, interactions, medical information, medical advice, natural treatment, warnings, products
2.Does not use the Meta Keyword tag.
3.omega 3, Olive oil, sources of omega 3, benefits of Olive oil, omega 3 deficiency, omega 3 benefits
4.triglycerides, Olive oil, triglyceride levels, Olive oil vs fish oil, Olive oil benefits
5.Olive Oil side effects
It is interesting to see that the pages ranked #3 and #4 are from the same website. Therefore, Google is ranking two articles from the same site for the search term health benefits of Olive oil. What I want you to look at are the Titles, Meta Descriptions, and Keywords for both of these articles.
See how they are both unique and tailored to the main topic of the article. This is something you need to do on your own site. Every page, even if it is a similar topic to another page, MUST have a unique title, Meta description and Meta keywords (if you use them).
Headlines on Your Page
As a webmaster, you obviously have control over the headlines in your "on-page" content. You have several sizes of headlines, ranging from the biggest H1 header, all the way down to the smallest H6 header.
In your web page source code, an H1 header looks like this: <H1>Your Headline Here</H1>
H1 is the main headline on your page, and because of this, the search engines give keywords in this heading the most attention. In SEO terms, your H1 headline is the one that has the biggest effect on your page ranking.
However, just because it helps to rank your page, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can use more than one. Only ever use one H1 header and place it at the very top of your page as the opening title.
Try to get the main keyword for the page into the H1 header, preferably near the start of the headline.
As you write your content, break it up with H2 headers. If an H2 section has sub-sections, use H3s for those titles. I rarely use H3 headers on my own pages as H1 and H2s are sufficient in nearly all cases.
Be aware that H2 and H3 have a very little effect on rankings, so I don’t recommend you try to add keywords to these unless it makes sense to do so. Just don’t go out of your way to add them.
The opening H1 headers for my top five pages ranking for health benefits of Olive oil are:
Find a Vitamin or Supplement
Exciting Olive Oil Benefits That Make You Healthier, Happier, Younger and Stronger!
Olive Oil: This Almost Perfect Natural Oil Could Slow Down Your Aging Clock
Olive Oil Supplementation Lowers Your Triglycerides
The page ranked #1 (WebMD) is again the odd one out here due mainly to its authority, thus making it rank more easily. It does use a second H1 right under the first, and that one is Olive Oil. I don’t recommend you create two H1 headers on a page. WebMD gets away with it because of Google’s tolerance for authority sites.
As you can see from the other four pages, the H1 headers all include Olive Oil at or near the beginning of the headline. We’ve also got other niche vocabulary appearing in these headlines too. Most importantly, make sure your headlines read well for your visitors.
When you add an image to your page, the source code (in its simplest form) looks like this: <img class='lazy' data-src=”Image URL” alt=”ALT Text”/>
You might also have width and height parameters as well.
The Image URL in that code will be the URL to the image (which includes the image filename). Google can read the image filename in this URL, so it makes sense to help Google out and tell them what the image is. If the image is a bottle of Olive oil, call the file “bottle-of-Olive-oil.jpg”.
If it’s an image of Olive in the sea, call it “Olive-swimming-in-sea.jpg”, or whatever else helps to best describe the image. The opportunity is clearly there to insert a keyword, but don’t overdo it. Only insert the most important word or phrase.
The other important part of this code is the ALT text. This is the text shown in browsers when images are turned off (not visible to the user). It’s also the text that is read by text-to-speech software, often used by those with sight impairment.
Use the ALT tag to describe the image with these users in mind. You can put a keyword in there, but again, don’t stuff them.
A couple of the top five pages in Google ranking for "health benefits of Olive oil" have used images. Let’s look at the source code of those images. Here I have cleaned up the HTML code so that you can only see the filename and ALT tag):
1.<img class='lazy' data-src=”/Olive-oil-hand.jpg” alt=”Olive-oil-hand”>
2. <img class='lazy' data-src=”/Olive-oil-beats-common-diseases.jpg” alt=”Olive oil beats common diseases”>
You will notice that the filename and the ALT tag in each example are the same. This is fine and I actually recommend you do this as well.
You may want to experiment by creating a different filename and ALT tag for an image. However, if you do, I suggest you don't use different keywords in each. Both of these should contain the same description, one for the search engine and the other for visually impaired users.
If Google thinks you are trying to get different keywords into the filename and ALT tags of the same image, they might label you a spammer. At the end of the day, it’s just easier to use the same sentence for filename and ALT tag, and it looks more natural too.
Spelling & Grammar
If the spelling and grammar are bad on your site, visitors will not be overly impressed. This can lead to higher bounce rates and less time spent on the site. For no other reason than this, it’s a good idea to check both.
Google views spelling and grammar as quality signals. The odd mistake won’t make a difference, but pages with lots of errors will probably not rank too well in the long-term. A site that has lots of pages with poor grammar and spelling throughout is unlikely to rank for anything much.
Links on the Page
Your web pages will include links to other web pages. These web pages may be on the same site (internal links), or point to pages on a different website (external links).
Over the course of time, web pages may be moved or get deleted. It is important, therefore, to check links periodically to make sure they don't become broken or dead links.
The most common broken links on a page tend to be external links since we have no control over pages run by other webmasters. They can remove or rename their pages without notice, and when they do, your link becomes broken.
Fortunately, there is a good free tool that can check for broken links on your site called Xenu Link Sleuth.
This tool will find all broken links, both internal and external.
Internal links on your site can also get broken if you rename a page, or delete one. I use a lot of internal linking on my sites to help visitors navigate, and also to help Google spider, or crawl, my content. Changing a filename of a page could break dozens of links, or hundreds even if you run a large site.
To prevent this from happening, I use an internal linking plugin that automates the linking of words and phrases to pages. If I rename or delete a page, I can simply change the settings in the internal linking plugin and all the internal links on my site then update automatically.
You can read more about the internal linking plugin that I use, and how I go about my internal linking here: http://ezseonews.com/int-link
But what about linking out to other websites? Is that a good or bad idea?
Well, linking out to other websites is natural. Think about writing a research paper for a minute. It’s natural to cite other papers as your source of reference, and you do that by linking to those references.
Similarly, when you create an article for your site, it’s natural to “cite” other web pages by linking to them. These might be pages you used for research or pages you found interesting and relevant to your own content.
In other words, they are pages that you think your visitors would appreciate you sharing with them.
The one thing you need to be aware of is that links to other site's pages are votes for them. If those other pages are spammy or low quality, those links can actually hurt you.
This is because Google assumes you are voting for spam and maybe in some way connected with the pages you link out to. After all, why would you otherwise bother?
Therefore, if you link to a page that you don’t necessarily endorse for various reasons, then it is important to use the "nofollow tag" in the link. The source code of a link with the nofollow tag looks like this.
<a href=”http://Thesisscientist.com” rel=”nofollow”>The Other Site</a>
I personally use the “nofollow” tag for the vast majority of all outbound links. Unless of course, the site I'm linking to is a recognized high authority site within my niche.
In these cases, I’ll usually leave the nofollow out because I want Google to associate my site with these authority sites. In other words, I'm telling Google that I endorse these sites.
While we are on the subject of "nofollow", if you allow visitors to comment on your content (recommended), then make sure their links are all "nofollow". That includes any link used in the comment itself and any URL that they include in their mini-profile, which typically links to the commenter's name and points to their own websites.
Note that the "nofollow" approach will probably mean you get fewer comments than a site that doesn't use the "nofollow" tag. This is because other webmasters see very little in it for them if Google ignores their link.
However, if you don’t do this, you’ll quickly find that as the comments build up, you will get dozens and then hundreds of outbound links – site-wide - to pages you have no control over, and no idea of their quality or reputation.
The "dofollow" approach, on the other hand, would probably get you a Google penalty in time, plus a heap of unwanted SPAM comments.
Spying on Competitors for Content Ideas
One of my favorite ways of generating content ideas is to spy on my competitors to see what they are adding to their website.
The easiest way of doing this is to subscribe to your competitor’s RSS feed, and then monitor that for new content.
If you collect RSS feeds from several competitors, you can enter them all into a single “collection” (one RSS feed) using a service like Feedly. Feedly then notifies you of any new content, across all of the sites, as it's uploaded.
You can see from the above image how I have added three feeds from three different websites, all related to juicing, into a collection I aptly named “Juicing”. If I click on the “Juicing” item in the menu, it shows me new content from all of those feeds in the collection:
This really is a great way to find new content ideas. Let your competitors do the research to find out what their readers want, then apply their ideas to your own site. Another upside of this is that you can be the first to comment on their new articles, and that can lead to more traffic to your site.
You can extend this method by using Google Alerts to monitor keywords in your niche. If, for example, you had a website about bee colony collapse, you could set up an alert at Google for that.
So whenever new items appear in the SERPs that relate to bee colony collapse, you get notified right away. Notifications can be sent via email, or they can be included in an RSS feeds, which you can then add to your Feedly account.
Once set up, you have your finger firmly on the pulse in your niche, and any breaking news in it gets delivered to you right away, ready for your own “breaking news” article that you can post on your site. Share any new story via social media, and you can quickly find these articles attracting both backlinks and traffic.
The topic of web content could actually fill a blog of its own. In fact, I have written a blog called “Creating Fat Content” which extends the ideas here and is available on Amazon. See section at the end of this blog if you want a link.
What Google Tells Us About Site Design
Google gives us a lot of information about site design, which we should consider as best practices. Put another way, Google knows how their search engine works, and therefore knows the site design elements that work best for them.
Google lists all these Standards in its Google Webmaster Guidelines, but let’s go through some of the important points here.
Create a Sitemap
Google wants you to create a sitemap and submit it to their Webmaster Tools, and I recommend you do this. If you are using WordPress, there are many plugins which can create sitemaps automatically for you.
Google also suggests that you have a sitemap for visitors as it helps guide them to relevant parts of your site. I actually think this is less important than a sitemap for the search engines since a good navigation system on the site (plus a good search facility) will do that job for you.
It is my experience that users would rather use an intuitive navigation system, one that effortlessly guides them around the site's pages, than a long list of hyperlinks in a sitemap.
Make Sure Your Site Has a Clear Hierarchy
We’ll look at the hierarchical structure of the site soon, but for now, just know that Google expects EVERY page on your site to be reachable through a static link on another page (not necessarily the sitemap).
I’d go one step further in suggesting that every page on your site should be no more than two clicks from the homepage, and the more important pages no more than one click away from the homepage.
Keep Links on a Page to a Reasonable Number
Search engines can actually spider every link on a page, even very long ones, so I can only assume this guideline is for the benefit of users. If you have certain "calls to action" that you want visitors to make, the fewer links (and other distractions) there are the better.
Dynamic Pages Vs Static Pages
Dynamic pages often contain the “?” character before some parameters. Google suggests you try to make static pages rather than dynamic pages, though if you have to use dynamic pages, try to keep the parameters to a bare minimum.
A Robots.txt File
Robot.txt files are used to set rules for your site, e.g. stopping search engine spiders from crawling specific pages; effectively hiding them from the SERPs.
A robots.txt file sits in the root folder of your site and basically contains a series of allowing or disallow commands, telling spiders/crawlers which pages they can and cannot access.
Google suggests that if you have pages on your site that you do not want spiders to crawl, then use a robots.txt file. If, on the other hand, you want the spiders to crawl every page on your website, then do not create a robot.txt file, not even a blank one.
If you are a WordPress user, you may be wondering about all of the script files and folders. My advice here is to check out SEO for everyone • Yoast for the latest advice on WordPress robots.txt files.
With the Yoast SEO plugin, you can easily control which pages Google shows in its search results, and which pages it doesn't, all done from within your WordPress Admin area. Here is a link to the article:
Check Your Site in Different Browsers
Unfortunately, different web browsers can display a page very differently. It is therefore wise to check your site in a range of different browsers to make sure it looks good for everyone, irrespective of what browser they are using.
You might not be able to get your site looking perfect in every single web browser (there are a lot of them around these days) but you want it to at least look good in the top five, namely Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer (soon to be replaced by Microsoft Edge (codenamed Spartan), Opera, and Apple Safari).
Do a Google search for browser compatibility testing for various free services that allow you to test your site in a variety of browsers.
At the very minimum, you should check in mobile browsers. A responsive theme is a must-have these days. Responsive themes adjust how your site displays, depending on the browser resolution of the visitor.
At the time of writing, between 45%-60% of my own site visitors (for a variety of sites) are coming in on mobile devices.
For WordPress users, I used to recommend a plugin that switched themes for mobile users. However, the themes it produced were a little crude. I now recommend that you buy a responsive theme.
I personally use the Genesis theme framework. You can see a range of themes that use Genesis here: http://ezseonews.com/studiopress
On that page, click the “Shop for Themes” link in the top navigation menu. Look for the themes labeled HTML 5 as these are the responsive options. You can click those theme thumbnails to get more details and to see a demo of each one.
Try loading some of those themes in your desktop computer, your tablet and your phone, or use an online browser emulator if you don't have access to multiple devices. See how each theme changes the site design according to the screen dimensions of your device?
This type of responsive theme will keep mobile users happy, without compromising the experience of desktop visitors.
Monitor Your Site Load Times
Site visitors will not hang around if your pages take a long time to load. Therefore, don’t add unnecessary bloat to your pages. Create light, fast-loading pages with optimized images to make sure they load as quickly as possible.
Page load speed is certainly a factor used in the Google algorithm, and although it is not a major one, it is still worth noting.
I personally use a free service for checking page load speeds. Here is the link: http://gtmetrix.com
We’ll come back and look at this tool in more detail later in the blog. OK, so those are the guidelines from Google specifically about site structure. I recommend you head on over to the Google Webmaster Guidelines and familiarize yourself with them all. Seriously, they’ll help to keep you on the right side of Google.
A Note About Exact Match Domain Names
An exact match domain (EMD) is one that uses the main keyword phrase you are targeting as the domain name, e.g. http://buyviagraonline.com (if you wanted to target “buy Viagra online”).
Typically, EMD websites target very few keywords, placing all their eggs firmly in the “EMD phrase” basket.
If you are starting a new website, choosing a domain name will be the first task you’ll need to do. Many people who teach SEO will still tell you to go for an EMD because it offers ranking advantages over non-EMDs.
This was true in the past, but not now. In fact, on September 28, 2012, Google released an update that aimed to reduce the ranking ability of poor quality EMDs.
This news shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the more switched on SEOs because two years earlier, Google's Matt Cutts announced that the company would be looking at why EMDs ranked so well when he spoke at PubCon, Las Vegas, in November 2010.
The problem with EMDs today is that Google scrutinizes them more closely. This means there's always an added risk of them receiving penalties, whether they deserve it or not. Because of this, I recommend you look for a brandable domain name instead, and try to find one that people will remember easily.
What Is a Low-Quality EMD, Exactly
I would say that any EMD that is not a brand or company name is at risk of being labeled low quality. The reason is simply that site owners choose EMDs to rank for a particular phrase.
Webmasters have traditionally looked at their keyword research and found a phrase that is commercially attractive, that is, low competition, high search volume, and high AdWords Cost per click.
Once found, they register the phrase as an EMD. Their sole intention is to then rank well for the phrase and monetize the webpage(s) using Google AdSense. Any website that is set up with the primary goal of ranking for a single phrase is a glorified doorway page, and we know what Google thinks of those.
One thing that makes a lot of these low-quality EMDs stand out is the high percentage of backlinks that use the exact same keyword phrase as the anchor text. The problem for EMD owners is that using one phrase over and over is largely unavoidable.
This is because it’s the name of the website, and therefore creates many of the same-looking links pointing back to the page. This is why I suggest you avoid them unless it is your company/brand name.
Summary: Any EMD that you choose solely for its potential profit is likely to cause you problems going forward.
Good Site Structure
The way you structure your site is extremely important, not only for the search engines but also for human visitors. Good organization, coupled with a clear and intuitive navigation system, is not only practical but vital.
From a human point of view, it makes sense that content on a similar topic can be accessed from the same section of the site. For example, if you have a website selling bicycles, then all the mountain bikes should be grouped together, all of the road bikes in another section, and maybe bikes for children in yet another part of the site.
If you’re using WordPress as a site builder, then organizing your site like this is extremely easy. You simply create a category for each section and assign posts to the most logical category. While it is possible to assign a post to more than one category, I recommend the one-post to one-category approach.
This makes for a tighter organization and serves the webmaster, the site visitor, and the search engines, better. If you need to categorize your articles further, e.g. having all 26-inch frame bikes on the same page, then use tags instead of additional categories for the frame sizes. We will look at tags a little later.
One of the most overlooked pieces of the SEO puzzle is internal linking. This not only helps the search engines to spider your pages more easily, but it also helps visitors find other related content within your site.
With WordPress, there are plugins that can help you automate some of the internal linking on your site. For example “Yet Another Related Posts Plugin”, that’s YARPP to its friends, is a free WordPress plugin that will automatically create a related posts section at the end of every article on your site. https://wordpress.org/plugins/yet-another-related-posts-plugin/
You can configure YARPP so that it can only find related posts within the same category. This helps to create a tighter, more natural silo, when articles link to related content on your site.
This example shows related posts in the sidebar of the site. However, a great place to include them is at the end of the actual article. That way, when your visitor has finished reading one article, they immediately see a list of related articles that might also interest them. This helps to keep visitors on your site for longer.
Linking Pages on a Site Together
Another form of internal linking, which I think is extremely important, links within the body of your actual articles.
For instance, if you are writing an article about the “GMC Topkick Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike”, you might like to compare certain features of the bike to the “Mongoose Exile Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike”.
When you mention the name of the Mongoose Exile bike, it would help your visitors if you linked that phrase to your Mongoose Exile review. This would also allow the search engines to find that article, and help them determine what it's about, based on the link text.
This type of internal linking helps to increase indexing of your site, as well as the rankings of individual pages.
Tags - Another Way to Categorise Your Content
Tags are another way to categorize content if you are running a WordPress (or similar content management system) site. When you write a post, you can include a number of these tags, which further helps to categorize the piece.
For example, if you wrote a post about the “Dyson DC 33 Animal” vacuum cleaner, you would probably put it in the category “Dyson”, as that is the most logical “navigation label” for your visitors. These tags will help to categorize the posts within the Dyson category, along with every other brand name category on your site.
WordPress actually creates a page for each of these tags, and each of these tag pages can actually rank quite well in Google.
Let’s look at an example. These four vacuums all have a HEPA filter:
1.Eureka Boss Smart-Vac Upright.
3.BISSELL Cleanview Helix Upright Vacuum Cleaner
4.Miele S2 Series Lightweight
The first vacuum will be in the Eureka CATEGORY with all other Eureka vacuums.
The second vacuum will be in the Hoover CATEGORY with all other Hoover vacuums.
The third vacuum will be in the Bissell CATEGORY and, the fourth vacuum will be in the Miele CATEGORY.
All four vacuums are tagged with “HEPA filter”, so will also appear on the HEPA Filter “tag page”.
Additionally, the first three vacuums would also appear on the “Upright” tag page.
When people visit your site, they’ll be able to narrow down their choice by Brand (using category navigation), or by looking for specific features (using tags to navigate).
A Word of Warning!
I advise you to use tags wisely and sparingly. Don’t tag every post with hundreds of tags. Think about your tags carefully and only include the most relevant ones for each post.
The Use and Misuse of Tags
A lot of people do not really understand the significance of tags and see them as a “keyword list” similar to the Meta Keywords tag. To that end, they create long tag lists for each post. Here is a screenshot of some tags assigned to one post I saw:
This was actually only about 25% of the total tags listed on that page. It just kept scrolling down and down. In SEO terms, this is bad practice. Very bad!
To understand why long tag lists are a bad idea, let’s look at what happens when you create a post.
When you publish a post (article) on your blog, WordPress will put that same post onto several pages of your site, including:
1. A page specially created to show the post (the main page).
2.The category page.
3.The author page.
4. For every tag assigned to the post, that post will appear on the corresponding tag page. So if you tag a post with 25 tags, it means that post duplicates across 25 tag pages.
Can you see how that one post now duplicates on multiple pages of your site?
Duplicated Content on a Site Is NOT Good!
Another big problem with using too many tags occurs when only one post uses a particular tag. In that case, the tag page will only have the one article on it, meaning it is almost identical to the main post page created by WordPress for that article.
How to Use WordPress Tags Properly
Get into the tag mindset. Before you use a tag on a post, think about the tag page that will be created for that post. Your article will appear on each of those tag pages you tag it too.
So when you create a new tag for a new post, you have to ask yourself whether you will use this tag on other, relevant posts. The rule of thumb is to never create a tag if it is unlikely to get used by several other posts on your site.
With this in mind, here is what I suggest you do
During the design stages of your site, make a list on a piece of paper of all the tags you want to use (you can add/edit this list as you build out your site, but at least have a list you can refer to).
As you create posts on your site, refer to the tag list you wrote down, and use only tags on that list. By all means, add new tags over time, but make sure the tags are going to be used more than once. Don’t create a tag that will only ever be used for a single post on your site. Also, only use a few of the most relevant tags for each post.
Finally, never use a word or phrase for a tag that is (or will be) the same as a category name. After all, WordPress will create pages for each category as well; so think of tags as an “additional” categorization tool at your disposal.
Fortunately, there are a number of good plugins to help manage tags if you work with WordPress. Just visit the Plugin directory and search for “Tag Manager”. Choose one that has good reviews and works with your current version of WordPress.
Modifying Tag Pages?
Quite often, you will find that your tag pages are getting traffic from Google. I have found that the tag pages often rank very well for the chosen tag (as a keyword phrase).
I like to modify my tag pages (and category pages) by adding an introductory paragraph to each one. The Genesis theme templates have a built-in feature that makes this very easy, for category pages as well as tag pages. http://ezseonews.com/genesis
When created this way, the tag pages have an introduction, followed by a list of all related articles (those tagged with that particular tag). This helps to make your tag pages unique, but it also allows you to add more value to your site.
Used properly, tag pages can work for you. Used without thought, tag pages can increase duplicate content on your site and therefore increase your chances of a Google penalty.
What Is An "Authority" Site?
If you go over to the Free Dictionary website and search for authority, there are many different definitions. The highlighted definition below is probably the aptest regarding websites:
To make your website an authority site, it has to be an “accepted source of expert information or advice”.
A well-organized site with excellent content is a great start (the first two pillars of good SEO). However, those two pillars are not enough to make your site an authority. The reason for this is because no one would have heard about you or your fabulous site just yet, and no visitors means zero votes.
Your site (or your own name if YOU personally want to be the authority) MUST be well-known in your particular niche. So how do you get to be well-known?
Answering that is the easy part. You need to put your site's name and your own face out there, and on as many relevant, high quality places as you can, with links pointing back to relevant pages on your site. In other words, you need "quality" backlinks.
Getting backlinks used to be easy, but with Penguin on the prowl, backlinks is now an area that can quickly get you penalized. This is especially the case if your site is relatively new or doesn’t have much authority yet.
There is another aspect of this that I want to discuss before we go into details on back-linking, and that is linking out from your site to authority sites within your niche.
We have looked at this earlier in the blog, but I want to bring it up again here, just to reinforce the point. We are all part of a huge web of interlinked websites. If you were talking about something in your niche, it makes sense that you reference other authority websites.
Let's look at an example of this
If a search engine was trying to evaluate your page on say the Atkins Diet, don’t you think that links to other people's studies on the diet, as well as medical references, etc., would help make your page more of an authority?
Of course, it would, as long as your own content was also excellent. It would also help instill confidence in your visitor by giving them additional value.
So when you write content for your website, don’t be afraid to link to other authority sites if they have relevant information that expands on what you've referenced in your own article. Don’t use “nofollow” on links to well-known authority sites either, as that just tells the search engine you:
(a) Don’t trust the site you are linking to, or
(b) You are trying to hoard the link juice on your own site.
I recommend you get these links to open in a new window, or tab so that your visitors do not lose your site if they click those links. What you may even decide to do is have a reference section at the end of your post, with active hyperlinks pointing to other authority sites.
This way they get to read the entire post without distraction. In short, do link out to other authority sites, but only when it makes sense and you think it will help your visitor.
OK, that's outbound links sorted.
Links Coming into Your Site
Backlinks to a website are a very important part of the Google algorithm. It’s the main reason webmasters build links to their own websites; to help them rank better. However, there is something very important that you need to know about link building.
It’s not something that most SEO books or courses will tell you about, mainly because they want to sell you their link building tools, or get you to buy recommended tools through their affiliate links. Here's what they don't want you to know:
Google don’t want you building links to your site.
In actual fact, we can probably state this a little more strongly than that. Google HATES you building links to your site.
Google is on the warpath against “webspam” and “link schemes”. This includes “unnatural” links. Any link that was created purely to help your page rank higher in the SERPs, and/or links YOU have total control over, is considered as an unnatural link.
Properties of an unnatural link include any link where you, as the webmaster:
1. Choose the link text.
2. Choose the destination page.
3. Choose which page the link appears on.
4. Choose where on the page the link appears.
So is every link you have built to your site unnatural? No, it's not. Any link that you create, and would have created even if the search engines did not exist, is not unnatural.
An example of this is if you write an article for an authority site and put a link to your site in the author's bio. This is considered a natural link since you are the expert who wrote the article and people may want to know where they can find out more about you. You would put that link in there even if there were no search engines.
The term "unnatural" is used by Google to describe those links you created to boost the position of your page in the SERPs. It’s a fine dividing line. However, the penalties for crossing that line can be severe.
If Google finds links that you have created for your site with the sole purpose of helping it to rank better, they will ignore those links at best, but they will more than likely penalize your site, especially if there are lots of them, site-wide. You need to bear this in mind as you build links to your web pages.
It can be tempting to go over to the dark side of SEO. There are many people out there who will show you proof that keyword-rich anchor text links still work (usually just before selling you a link-building tool or service).
What they don’t show you is what happens to that page in the medium to long-term. This type of link building can still give good results in the short-term, but only until Google catches you.
It's necessary for you to understand that in 2015 and beyond, it is Google's automated software that hunts you down, and it does a very efficient job at it too.
In this blog, I’ll only cover what I consider the best long-term strategies for link building; those that look natural to Google.
Here is the general concept of link building: As you build quality links to your page it will move up the search engine rankings. Some people will tell you that it doesn’t matter whether inbound links are on related pages (to your page) or not. That may have been the case several years ago, but it's certainly not the case now.
If you had a website on “breeding goldfish” and you had 100 inbound links to your site, yet 95% of them were on pages that talked about things like:
Other, unrelated pages
What is that telling the search engines
I think Google would look at these backlinks and conclude you were involved in back-linking schemes to help your pages rank better. As we saw earlier, Google’s webmaster guidelines tell us that this is a quick road to a penalty.
If the search engines want to use inbound links as a measure of authority, then obviously the most authoritative links you could get would be from quality pages that were on the same or similar topic to the page they linked to.
With Google Penguin, this may be even more important as Google appears to be giving less weight to the anchor text and more weight to the actual THEME of the webpage (or site) that the link is on. Therefore, look for links from pages and sites that are relevant to your own niche, and look for quality sites to get your links.
Always consider quality as a priority in every backlink you get. So the backlink should be on a quality page, and on a quality site. The page on your site should also be quality.
What I have described here is perhaps a little scary. If bad backlinks can get your site penalized, then what is to stop your competitors building poor quality backlinks to your site? Well, this does actually happen, and Google calls it negative SEO.
Is Negative SEO Real
Negative SEO is a term that refers to webmasters/SEOs who build poor quality links to a competitor’s website in an effort to get it penalized. Many SEOs agree that since Penguin, negative SEO tactics have become a reality. I actually think it was a reality even before Panda, and one of my own tests certainly provided some evidence for this.
At the start of 2011 (before Panda), I began some aggressive back-linking to a site of mine that was several years old. I wanted to use this as a test, so I set up about 150 blogs (using automation software) that I could use to get backlinks from.
Since I controlled these blogs, I controlled the backlinks from them as well, and so had the power to delete them if I needed to.
Once everything was in place, I began to submit content to these 150 sites, with backlinks going to the pages on my test site. The rankings climbed for several weeks, and so did my traffic as a direct consequence.
I was monitoring my page rankings for 85 keywords, and around 60 had reached the top 10 in Google, with a large proportion in the top three.
Then, I woke up one morning to find that Google had penalized my site. In fact, all 85 keywords dropped out of the top 100, rendering them totally useless.
These keywords had been out of the top 100 for eight weeks before I began phase two of my experiment. I deleted all 150 blogs, thereby eliminating all of those spammy backlinks in one hit.
Over the next month, things began to improve slowly. Pages started climbing back into the top 100 to the point where I ended up with 64 of the 85 phrases back in the top 100. Around 42 pages were back in the top 30, and 12 were back in the top 10.
NOTE: My rankings obviously did not return to pre-penalty levels. They were only at those pre-penalty levels because of the backlinks I had built. However, I think it was quite clear that Google had lifted my site penalty once I removed the spammy links.
I also know that an algorithm had applied the penalty and not a human reviewer. Whenever a human reviewer penalizes a site, you have to submit a re-inclusion request after you've cleaned up the problems.
I didn’t have to do that. Once I had removed the backlinks, the rankings returned. This proved to me that the entire process was automated.
If your site gets a penalty today, the chances are it is an algorithmic penalty like in my example. Therefore, fixing the issues will remove the penalty, which is actually great news.
Here is a diagram showing poor backlinks to a page:
In this model, poor backlinks actually cause YOUR page to get a Google penalty. The result will be a likely and sudden drop down the rankings. The point to take home from this is to concentrate on backlinks from good quality, authority sites.
The Type of Backlinks You Should Get
First and foremost, go for QUALITY backlinks every time, not quantity.
For your site to become a real authority, it needs incoming links from other authority websites, blogs, and forums. Since Google Penguin, I no longer recommend using any type of automated link building tool.
“If I cannot use automated link building tools, how can I get enough links to rank well?”
To answer that question, let me ask you one thing: Do you believe your page DESERVES to rank well based on the quality of the content and the authority of you/your site?
If you answer "no", then you will have to go down the black hat SEO path to get your page ranked, and ultimately that path will lead to Google penalties, lost rankings, and you have to start over again.
For a page to rank well on your site, you need to make sure it deserves to rank well (in terms of content and your site/author authority). After all, you're going to be putting in a lot and time and effort into your new project, and my guess is that you want it to be around for a good while.
So make it the best that it can possibly be, and take pride in your site. If you love what you do and share your passion with your visitors, that will start to show naturally on your pages.
Think of it like this example
You write a page on the “health benefits of vitamin D”.
Do you think your page deserves to rank above medical sites, where the authors are medical doctors and trained nutritionists? Google clearly wants to show the most useful and accurate information it can to its customers (web searchers), and that probably means choosing a medical authority site over yours, even if your content happens to be better.
You cannot compete on the authority level unless you are an authority on the “health benefits of vitamin D” yourself. That is the way it should be because we all want to find the best, and most relevant information when we search online, and that includes everyone.
How might you gain authority in this area? Well, you could quite simply write articles on vitamin D and have them posted on numerous authority sites, with a link back to your site/page in the author's resource box.
Don’t try to stick keywords into your backlinks. Use only the title of your site or the title of the article you are linking to, or the base URL of the page you are linking to.
When you think about it in these terms, can you understand why I say abandon automated link builders? The links coming into your pages need to be of the utmost quality and professionalism.
They need to build your authority, not ruin it by having some tacky computer-generated article with your name on it linking back to your site's pages.
So, with the idea of quality firmly planted in your mind, let me suggest a few places where you can get content published that might actually build your reputation and authority. Before I do that though, I would like to give two general guidelines for back-linking.
1. Only look to get links on authority sites that relate to your own niche.
2. Try to be EVERYWHERE. Whenever someone is searching for information in your niche, make sure they constantly see your name or site cropping up.
It doesn’t matter if your link is on a Page Rank zero page or even PR Unranked. What matters most is that the page resides on a site that has good authority.
Two of the only indicators we have for authority is domain age and domain Page Rank, so I suggest you use these while you can (PageRank may well be disappearing soon). Look for domains five years old and older, with domain PR4 or above on the home page. This approach should keep you safe.
With Google Penguin, things have changed a lot.
You used to optimize a webpage by including the main keyword phrase in the page title, URL, H1 header and several times in the content. We’d then point lots of backlinks to the page using the main keyword phrase as the anchor text.
Google used to reward this type of optimization.
Then came the Penguin update, and as we’ve seen, that type of optimization is more likely to get your page/site penalized.
As well as de-optimizing on-page factors, we have also had to de-optimize backlinks to our pages as well. In fact, if you check out the Google Webmaster Guidelines, you’ll see this as an example of a “link scheme”:
Google is clearly cracking down on keyword-rich anchor text links that point to a webpage. This type of back-linking used to be the norm, and no one thought anything of it. However, when we look at those links now, they really do look spammy, don’t they?
Today, we need to be smarter about our backlinks. If we want to survive Google Penguin (and all future algorithm updates), then we cannot create backlinks like we used to. These are the typical types of backlinks created by automated software tools, so that’s another compelling reason not to use software to generate backlinks for your site.
NOTE: I don’t believe that Google will penalize a web page that has a few backlinks like this.
For example, if your web page was about dog training, and 1% of your incoming backlinks used the anchor text “dog training collars”, I think that would be fine. However, if 50% or more of your backlinks used “dog training collars” as the anchor text, then that would be an issue and likely raise a red flag.
The Google tolerance for this type of link has been shifting. Google seems to be losing all patience for keyword rich anchor text, especially in the body of articles on other websites.
I would even suggest that it is now dangerous to have even 10% of the links to a specific page use the same keyword phrase. Tomorrow, next week or next year, that might drop to 5%, who knows. The point is this: the cleaner we are today, the less we will have to fear tomorrow.
Over time, Google is becoming much less tolerant, and with their disavow tool, they can do this with a clear conscience. At the start of 2013, a study was released showing this tolerance shift. The study showed that:
1. When the Penguin was first released, Google did not penalize sites even when 90% of incoming links were spammy.
2. By June 2012, Google would only tolerate 65% spammy links before issuing a penalty.
3. By October 2012, Google’s would only tolerate 50% spammy links before issuing a penalty.
That 50% figure was just TWO YEARS ago, at the time of writing. How much further has Google’s tolerance shifted? How low will this percentage go? That’s anybody’s guess, of course, but I have personally stopped all keyword-focused anchor text links to my own sites.
Do you have a site where you’ve done this in the past? If so, then you need to be careful and water down the percentage of anchor text rich links if that site is still live.
Add in new links on authority sites, using article titles and URLs as the link text. Remove any poor links that you can, and disavow those that you cannot control.
You may be wondering what the current safe level is for keyword-rich anchor texts. To be honest, I don’t believe there is a safe level anymore. If there is, it appears to be a moving target; moving in the wrong direction.
Let me go over what I think would be fairly safe limits.
I would recommend a link profile to a page on your site where:
1. NO MORE than 5% of backlinks use commercial keyword-rich anchor text. For all new links, you build to your site, I’d recommend you no longer use keyword phrases in anchor text. Use the page title (article H1 heading or site title are also OK) of the page you are linking to or the naked URL of that page.
Rely on strong on-page factors to tell Google what the page is about, along with internal linking, using keyword-rich anchor text because this type of link IS natural on site (see earlier discussion about Wikipedia).
2. The remaining 95% of anchor text should be made up of things like the page URL, the page title, the opening H1 header text, and words that are irrelevant to the topic of the article, like “click here”, “read this”, “read more”, “this site”, “this blog”, “here”, etc.
The most "natural" anchor texts to use for any link to a page on your site are the page title and URL. Those are the ones I recommend you use the most
What About Existing Keyword Rich Backlinks?
My suggestion, if you have lots of keyword-rich anchor text links to your site, is as follows:
1. Try to change the anchor text from keywords to page titles/URLs or site name.
2. For backlinks on poor quality websites, remove the links altogether. If you cannot get the links removed, consider disavowing them if they are on really poor quality sites.
3. Build more quality backlinks from authority websites that relate to your niche. Use page titles, headline text, site name or bare URLs as the anchor text. By building better links to your site, it is possible that you can over-power the poorer links. This is not something I would have said six months ago, but something seems to have changed now.
In October 2014, Microsite Masters Rank Tracker published a report in the aftermath of Penguin 3.0. The findings of their report were interesting, actually giving webmasters a little more hope.
Key Points Include
1. Penguin 3.0 seems to be targeting sites that do not have enough good links.
2. Penguin 3.0 does not seem to be punishing sites for bad links but is instead “erasing” the value of bad links.
Is Google making a U-turn on their policy of penalizing pages with bad backlinks? If so, this would be a major change compared to earlier Penguin updates. We know for sure that the early updates actively penalized sites for low-quality backlinks.
One clue may come from something Matt Cutts said in the summer of 2014 (For anyone who doesn't know, Matt Cutts is the American software engineer who leads the webspam team at Google).
When asked about negative SEO, Matt confirmed that Google was aware of it and that the Payday Loan 2.0 update would close some of the loopholes people were using for negative SEO.
Does this mean that instead of penalizing websites for bad backlinks, Google is just ignoring those links, making them ineffective for ranking? That would certainly back up the report on MicrositeMasters.
You can read their full report here:
I still don’t recommend keyword rich anchor text backlinks from other websites, but this report may suggest we can stop worrying so much about existing poor quality links. Just overpower bad links with good links from now on.
Of course, if you have thousands or even hundreds of thousands of poor backlinks to your site, the disavow tool may be the best approach. In some cases, moving your site to a new domain may be the only option, but you’ll then need to start building your site authority from scratch, so this really is a last resort.
Ranking for the Main Keyword Phrase
The old way we did SEO was to find popular search phrases and build pages around those phrases, thus optimizing the page and backlinks for the perfect ranking boost. With SEO of old, we could choose what phrases we wanted to rank for and then go after those phrases.
This strategy no longer works. As we’ve already seen, Penguin penalizes if it thinks you’ve over-optimized the on-page or off-page factors for a particular page. With the recent algorithm updates, it is now very hard to optimize a page safely for a specific term.
You can see this if you do a Google search. Many of the pages that rank for any given term do not contain that term in the title. Some don’t even include it on the page.
For example, if I search Google for the term 'honey bees dying', only four pages in the top 100 of Google include that exact phrase in the title. Most don’t even include that phrase on the web page itself.
The reason these pages rank highly is not that of the keyword phrases on the page, it’s because those pages are themed around the topic of “honey bees dying”, so they include the words and phrases that Google know should be included in the content.
We covered all of this in the section on writing content around a theme, but it’s good to mention it again to emphasize its importance.
If you want to rank for a specific phrase, this is the method I use and the one I suggest you follow:
1. Find theme words used on pages that rank in the top 10 at Google.
2. Write an “epic” post on the topic and theme it with the relevant niche vocabulary. Making sure the page is unique and adds more value than the other pages in the top 10. In other words, I make sure it deserves to be in the top 10.
3. Get backlinks from other authority sites in the niche, using the page title as the link text.
4. Use internal linking to the new page with a variety of link text, including the one I am targeting.
That’s it, my four-step process for ranking a page for a specific keyword phrase. The benefit of this strategy is that you can also rank for hundreds of other long-tail keyword phrases.
Back-linking from Now On
Google seems to be paying less attention to inbound anchor text and more attention to the topic of the page that is linking to yours.
For example, if your page is on “Health benefits of curcumin” and you got a link from a page about curcumin or turmeric, then that link would be a valuable one, irrespective of the anchor text used to link to your page.
With that in mind, I’d suggest trying to make your links look as authoritative as possible. Think about how academic literature links to another article. They’ll use the title of the other article or the base URL.
They might also use the journal name and edition to help find the document. If you were writing a guest post for another website, and with the intention of linking back to your own site, instead of doing this:
…where anti-cancer properties are one of the phrases you want to rank for, and links to your site, do something like this instead:
Do you see how natural this looks to a visitor? This looks like a recommendation to read more information on the topic. It looks like something to help the visitor rather than just something used to score points from a search engine. This type of link looks more authoritative, more natural to Google, AND it will be extremely valuable to your site.
If you submit articles to other sites for the purpose of back-linking, then I recommend the following:
Use in-context links like the one above, where the link uses the article title (or URL). This way, the reader is in no doubt what the destination page is all about.
Place a link to a URL or homepage in the author's resource box. Once again, don’t use keyword phrases as the anchor text. Use the URL, the domain name, or the title of the page you are linking to.
With Penguin, we actually need fewer backlinks to rank well, but they need to be from relevant, quality web pages. Google is giving MORE weight to quality links than it used to. Remember, quality over quantity is the key here.
Keep It Focused
Let me start out by saying that I have seen some very successful websites that run absolutely no social media campaigns whatsoever. Having a social media presence is not required to be successful or make money online.
However, if you are not doing social media, you are certainly leaving some opportunity on the table.
Creating an effective, time efficient, social media campaign is very challenging. Honestly, I am not convinced that I have actually accomplished it myself. So to be fair, some of this advice is a theory, personal belief, and simply “common knowledge”. I’ll try to provide some concrete examples from my own experience when possible.
Due to the fact that it’s very easy to waste time in the wrong places and you don’t actually need a social media presence to profit from your affiliate website, you can start your campaigns in a very limited scope.
There is an infinite number of places you could choose, but the big four right now are Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. YouTube might also be considered a social network. There are more out there like Tumblr and Instagram too, but growing traffic to a website is not as cut and dry.
Choose 1 to 3 places to create profiles and learn the platforms.
NOTE: Some might argue that Google+ shouldn’t even be considered because it’s officially been given the ax by Google. However, there’s more to the story! There are some sizable communities and they are niche focused (opposed to Twitter which is very individual focused) that are still going to be around when Google+ dies out.
Google hangouts is another fantastic way to reach audiences live and on camera. Google+ is the platform I enjoy the most, and if you keep your eye out for coming changes to the social network, I think it can still be a useful part of your marketing campaigns.
There is no need for any kind of auto-posting software, social bookmarking automation, or any of that automated junk that’s aimed at building a large profile of low-quality backlinks. You can have 10000 “likes” from robots on your
Facebook page but it doesn’t mean your site is going to rank any better. The smart guys running these places like Facebook and YouTube are pretty savvy about buying likes and it’s clear that having fake fans on any platform isn’t going to get you anywhere. Remain focused and dedicated in a small area, and you will see better results than just trying to explode your network on a massive scale.
Here is a brief outline of some of the benefits of each of the platforms as far as I see it.
Despite people saying that it’s no longer the “cool kid” on the block anymore, it’s still pretty ubiquitous. My grandparents use Facebook, as well as many people my age (late 20 ’s, early 30’s). I’m starting to get out of touch with the younger generation’s stuff, but age 30-80 is still a pretty wide scope of people to target.
Facebook allows you to create “groups” that people can participate in, essentially giving you the opportunity to have your own community, which can then infiltrate people’s personal profiles.
I’m involved in a homebrew club that has a Facebook page, and I see posts from the community as well as people’s personal posts in my feed when I log into Facebook.
You can also create “fan pages” for your website or business, as well as create paid advertising campaigns that are extremely targeted based on location, interests, “like” history, and other personal activity.
It’s a very interesting integration of business into people’s personal lives. As a Facebook user, it’s kind of scary to know how much data Facebook has access to. As a business owner, it’s a really cool opportunity to get some eyeballs on your business.
This is my preferred platform because it allows me to reach out to people with similar interests to me. I can search for Google+ communities based on my interests (or my business), and share stories or comments with people in the community.
Notifications from the community pop up in a small icon when I log into Gmail, but I don’t have to actually view them unless I log into my Google+ account.
Multi-column posts also mean I can view more activity at once, whereas Facebook only gives me the one column that I have to scroll through. Oh, there’s also cool things like live hangouts on air (live webinar recordings) that you can run for free and they post to your YouTube channel automatically.
You also have the ability to integrate Q&A with the audience, showcase links (affiliate opportunity), and meet with other people live for on-air discussions.
Unfortunately, Google+ really hasn’t been adopted by a large audience and it’s being discontinued at some point in the future.
Just recently, I read an article that Google will be splitting this service into two different entities – one just for photos and one social, possibly called “streams”. What these will actually do and how much of Google+ will still exist in the future is unknown.
This is a very good way to simply make announcements and have short conversations with people in your industry. When you make a new blog post or find something interesting, a quick “tweet” can make an announcement to all your followers.
I have found it very hard to get noticed on this platform as there is A LOT of activity going, and it happens very quickly. I’ve actually had a few Facebook posts go viral, and some really awesome discussions on Google+, but I haven’t seen anything very exciting happen on my sites for twitter.
Still but I do enjoy following businesses that I want to hear news about like breweries having bottle releases, or finding out why my hosting is down. “At the moment” news is great for Twitter.
Probably the most visual of all social media sites, and least content is driven is Pinterest. The lack of written content and inability to add affiliate links means it’s going to be a challenge to get people to actually buy the stuff they are looking at or even get to your website.
But don’t count it out! It’s extremely popular among women and even some guys! Just speaking from experience, there are some really awesome beer pictures and infographics floating around in the community, even more so than it’s “manly” competitor Manteresting (yeah, that’s a real site). The picture driven nature of the site means it will probably work better for some niches than others.
For example, a ‘how to train a puppy’ site would do great posting puppy pictures. A ‘learn coding languages’ site might not do as well unless you really get creative.
I could see this working for someone that really wants to develop a brand name that people will recognize, remember, and visit the website later. If you are hoping to drive traffic to your site directly from Pinterest, I might pick another social site.
I didn’t include this in the “big four” because I know a lot of people simply won’t be able to handle video at this point. Without a camera setup and a desire to either be on camera or create tutorials, you probably won’t be getting much action from YouTube.
It’s definitely worth considering at some point though because it’s one of the most trafficked websites on the internet, and like a mini search engine just for the video!
There are many ways to take advantage of YouTube if the video is your thing. There are really easy ways to drive traffic to your site and even direct affiliate links by making use of the description area of your videos. You can develop a trusted brand on your own YouTube channel using some of the same techniques I outline in the next section.
The most difficult thing for people getting started in blogging, but especially the social media side of things is feeling like you are publishing content in a vacuum. You post an article but nobody reads it. You tweet your published post, and nobody retweets. You post it to your Facebook page…you get the idea.
How do you get people to care about what you are doing on your website?
Well, as you publish content, if you follow the guidelines discussed in the chapters about writing techniques, keywords, and SEO, your stuff will naturally get found in search engines and shared by a few social-savvy visitors. But actually growing your social network organically is a bit different.
It’s hard, but not impossible to succeed in traffic generation and brand growth using social media. If you are genuine, consistent, and maintain a high quality of content published to your website and social profiles, you will see results.
Engage With Your Peers
The easiest way to start growing your network organically is simply by engaging with peers. It can be daunting to approach industry leaders (discussed below), so seek out other bloggers in your niche that you admire, but feel is more “on your level”.
Follow them! A lot of times following a person (on their social media profile) is enough to get a follow-back. New bloggers will be especially excited to have a connection with a real person.
I mean, how would you feel if another person in your niche contacted you and said they liked/respected your blog? Once you are social buddies, every time you post something to your social profile they get notified. If they are active, you might even get some re-shares and comments.
By engaging with other people in our niche on an equal level, we are growing awareness of us as a person and website owner. Consistency counts a lot here.
People come and go all the time in social media, so don’t expect everyone to greet you with open arms from day one. But as you keep showing up, they start to remember who you are and it begins to be more of a conversation!
You might connect with just one person each week, but after six months, that’s 28 people that can potentially share your content with their own networks, growing your followers exponentially.
Easy Ways To Engage
Say “thanks” for an awesome post on Twitter
Retweet one of their tweets
Comment on their blog with something insightful
Like and comment on their Facebook post or share it on your Facebook Page
Advanced Ways To Engage
Write a blog post which mentions them in a positive way and let them know by email or social media
Ask them a relevant question on one of their social media profiles
Interview them for a blog post, podcast, or YouTube video
Not all of these strategies will be a success on the first try. But you have to swing a few times if you want to play ball. Frankly, a lot of people will ignore you in the beginning, but generating momentum starts with one success at a time.
Once you have a few successes under your belt and a portfolio of great content on your website to back you up, you can start to set your sights here and begin engaging with some of the ‘top players’ in your niche.
Engage With Industry Leaders
You should be following the leaders in your niche from day one. See what they do on a daily basis. Where are they active in social media? How often do they post? What type of content do they post?
This can provide you with two types of insight.
1) You’ll know where they are seeing success. If they have a ton of twitter followers and tweet 5 times per day, you need a twitter account!
2) You’ll get an idea of potential opportunities they haven’t taken advantage of. For example, if they don’t have a Facebook page, maybe you can get some untapped traffic from Facebook!
Which strategy you choose is up to you, but doing both is probably quite difficult with regards to time management. The easiest road is probably following in their footsteps.
Remember, as you grow your network of followers and start following other people related to the “experts”, chances are, you’ll start to pop up in those “You might also like to follow” feeds. Even if not, you can still get your face or logo in front of other folks simply by engaging with these leaders.
For example, I follow a fitness channel on YouTube called Physiques of Greatness (POG). It’s run by two guys by the names of Chris Jones and Vince G. They have done an excellent job of creating a successful brand on YouTube.
In almost every single video there’s a guy called strength OVER size that leaves very insightful comments. I don’t know if the guy is just a social butterfly or is doing a bit of guerrilla marketing, but he gets a lot of upvotes, a lot of responses, and I definitely know about his YouTube channel now.
He only has about 4,000 subscribers versus POG’s 600,000 subscribers, but no doubt there is some crossover since they are both fitness channels.
NOTE! The smaller guy is not just some newbie saying, “Hey guys, come to check out my channel!”. Nobody likes that because it’s annoying and spam. Don’t be that person.
Specifically talking about the example above, he has almost 200 videos of content uploaded to his channel and engages with people as a subscriber to POG, not as a marketer trying to ‘steal’ followers.
Ways To Engage With Industry Leaders
Do an expert roundup*
Ask to do a guest post**
*An expert roundup is like a list of important people and what they do or think. You can do something like “Top 10 Fitness Channels On YouTube”. Write a short blurb about the channel, why it’s awesome, and what they talk about.
Then notify each of the people in your list via social media. This is a great way to get shares and likes from the leaders (Who doesn’t like free press?). If they share your post, you will get a lot of activity from their followers, and maybe even snag some of them!
You can also do something like “Ask The Experts” where you ask 10 experts a short question relevant to your industry. Those that respond are compiled into a blog post to see the varying opinions on a specific topic.
For example, “What 5 Expert Coffee Roasters Say About Starbucks”. Again, follow up by actually notifying people when the content is published so they can either comment or share your post.
**Guest posting is touchy because a lot of people just want to do it for backlinks. If you are going down the guest posting route, offer to do it without a backlink. Just be honest and say you are growing your brand awareness and wanted to reach out to some of the leaders and write some content for them.
Personally, I don’t do this. I’d rather write content for my own website. However, I know that some people enjoy the social activity and have achieved a certain level of brand growth by guest posting on relevant blogs.
Getting a positive ROI on your social media strategies is not as simple as X + Y = Z. You may find that some techniques work well for you, while others you need to tweak to work for your niche or personality style.
One mistake I made starting out was assuming that everyone was as anti-social and disinterested as myself. I never had a personal Facebook account before
I started online marketing, and still don’t use any other social media platform other than YouTube on a regular basis. Even then, I never comment, rarely ‘like’, and just watch videos for learning or entertainment. (I do a bit of Google+ for home brewing stuff, but the majority of my “social” activity in that hobby space is in forums.)
I know a lot of you are in the same boat. You might not have any social media profiles right now, or really don’t care about what’s being tweeted at the moment. The good news is that you don’t have to be a social butterfly to have a successful social media strategy! It helps, but it’s not required.
Below are a few simple strategies to start out with and you can see what fits your personality type most.
Elicit Comments On Your Article
Ideally, you will get traffic from your social media efforts. A comment on your website does a lot more for you than a response on your Facebook share. Getting people from your email or social share onto your website can be a challenge though because it’s one more step.
Use lead-ins, or ‘hooks’ to entice people’s interest. Don’t be shy either, just explain what they should do, and many people will follow. Say something like “I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section”.
It comes off as a bit corny, but people will get the hint that you want to move the discussion onto your website.
Don’t get discouraged or angry if they don’t though. Most people are too lazy to do it and will just do whatever is easiest for them.
Elicit Responses On Your Share
If you can’t get people to comment on your site, it’s still good to have a discussion on the posts you share. It increases awareness of your brand because each time a person comments, it will show up in their own personal feed, and viewed by their friends or followers. If they have followers relevant to your niche, those people might chime in too.
Social activity within social media and not on your site doesn’t necessarily have a concrete ROI. It won’t boost your SEO or make your website any stronger. But it does connect you to more people as well as strengthen existing connections. Isn’t that what social is all about anyway?
Become a Content Curator
Some “professionals” quote a 3-1 ratio or 5-1 ratio, but whatever the exact numbers are, the strategy is to share other people’s content way more than your own.
If you are involved in your niche while researching topics for your own articles, you will naturally run into interesting, useful articles, videos, infographics, and personalities along the way.
Don’t be greedy! Share all that information. How to share this is another decision that you have to make. You can offer up a quick reason why people should read what you just shared, or you can accompany it with a few paragraphs about why you agree or disagree with what the author says.
If you commented on the post and received an interesting response from the author, you can mention that too.
You essentially become a “curator” that people can follow so they don’t have to do their own research. They can just check their feed or timeline, and the cool stuff you find will be ready for them to consume!
Then, when you share your own content a select few times, people will read with interest, instead of ignoring you as just pushing your own stuff day after day.
Be sure to notify people whose content you shared! Use a + or @ before their name and they’ll get notified that someone mentioned them. Chances are, they’ll check out what else you share and might even follow you.
That’s good news, as their followers will get notified that they are now following you, and you may start to pop up in “you might also like” or “similar to”feed.
Post and Run
This is the least effective of all strategies, but probably the most commonly used. Doing this begs the question, why post at all?
I am guilty of this, and this is probably the reason I haven’t seen awesome results in my own social media efforts. However, this does offer one advantage over doing nothing at all: laying the foundation.
Sometimes, doing something is better than nothing at all. If all you have is a twitter profile and tweet your own articles once per day, it’s a foundation that you can build on later.
Revisiting Old Posts
Sometimes you create an amazing piece of content that you are sure everyone is going to love. But you send it into the internet, waiting for it to go viral, and it flops. No one cares. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad post though, since a variety of things may have gone wrong.
You might have just gotten buried by something more amazing that day. Or maybe it wasn’t as engaging as you originally thought. Was the accompanying picture poorly chosen or does it show a broken image file?
Was the picture description incomplete or does it not make sense?
Just because it flops the first time doesn’t mean it’s your last chance to get some social action on it. Some experts create an epic post then share a few times during the day to catch the different crowds. Lots of people share old content after they make updates to it, or find relevant news stories that relate to pieces they’ve previously written.
Revisiting old content and re-sharing can bring some new life to old content.
One more thing I wanted to mention was about branding. When you create your social media profiles, make them consistent. I made the mistake of not checking all platforms before going ahead and creating the profiles and ended up a different name on each.
On Twitter I’m @more_coffee_plz
On YouTube I’m 1OneMoreCupofCoffee
On Google+ I’m One More Cup of Coffee
On Facebook I’m Facebook.com/NathaniellBrenes
…And I’m something completely different on Pinterest
People can figure it out after a while and if you are active, it’s not such a big deal because you’re going to cross streams a lot with your profiles. But since you are just starting out, I wanted to remind you that it would be a lot better to be consistent with your branding, including username, images, and use of colors.
It also makes you easier to look up and creates a more professional look for your brand.
Social media isn’t as easy as liking and sharing everything you create. Seeing your social media efforts turn into real dollars is even harder. But if you aren’t on at least one platform participating, you may be leaving traffic and dollars on the table. How much traffic and how many dollars depends on you and your business.
Remember though, it’s not required to be a social butterfly to have a successful marketing campaign, and it’s not that hard to manage 1 profile and post some interesting things a few times each day.