I was searching for film reviews the other day (something I usually do before deciding to venture out to the cinema or splashing out on a new blu-ray) and noticed the same websites kept coming up time and again at the top of my search results. My immediate question was ‘How do they do this?’.
Firstly, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way with. SEO is a tried and tested method to drive traffic, but it isn’t the only factor, instead getting people to a website is a cocktail of many different methods, methods which I’ll discuss in 7 easy steps.
7. Long Form Content
“Content is King” – How many times have you heard someone saying that? People still tend to ignore it after numerous recommendations by tons of experts on the length of an article. Some people are lazy and some don’t have enough to say. Most bloggers usually write around 500-1000 words of content.
Now, there are thousands of bloggers in your niche/industry who are writing on the exact same topic. If you fall in the average category, you will never get recognised. Your content will be lost in the crowd.
Here’s an example of sites that had written about “how to seo” in the past hour. In the last hour, there has been 60 websites that have written about the very same topic.
There will be millions of sites within a year (if not billions), so how do you think you can stand out from the crowd? There’s a very easy way: 90% of these articles are less than 1000 words and 99% of them are less than 2000 words. To stay in the top 1%, all you need to do is write long articles worth 2000 to 4000 words, this is known as long form content.
Long form content can be a tremendous pain in the butt and can take a lot of effort to write, but the results are astonishing and can improve your chances of getting noticed. If all else fails, it can be used as a wealth of knowledge to reflect back on and add to your library of articles.
If you visit Wikipedia, you might have already noticed that they have tons of links at the bottom of their articles to Reference sites, this gives them credibility that their data is verified from an external source. Google takes this factor into consideration.
Whenever you write an article, try to link out to different worthwhile authority sites. The best way is to search for a broad term, say ‘SEO’ or ‘Content Marketing’. You will come across three in-depth articles for almost every broad term you search on Google. You can always link out to them whenever you write something on a specific topic. Also, use Google News to find interesting news stories on your topic and link out to these Newspapers with tons of authority.
6. Website Speed
Website speed is a very significant factor. Google, the best in the business, considers it an important part in their search algorithms. ‘Why?’ you ask? It’s because page speeds can give a pleasant experience to your visitors/readers – People get frustrated when they open a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, which more often then not they tend to take a step back even before the blog loads completely. The end result is a heavy loss of visitors and a bad mark from search engines.
But have no fear, Pingdom is a great site to check your website’s speed to know where you stand in terms of web performance.
To “time the fat” as they say, you should avoid shared hosting. Most of them are already oversold and struggle to keep up with traffic demand. Either get a small VPS from one of the reputed companies like Digital Ocean or get a WordPress hosting from a company like WP Engine who specialise in WordPress hosting.
A CDN or Content Delivery Network can really boost your website’s speed by up to 50%, in some cases much more. Instead of hosting your site on your own private server, you can spread it among multiple servers located worldwide. When a user from a particular location tries to access a website, a CDN delivers the content from a server that is closest to the user. Thus, it reduces the time taken to load a website.
There are overall many advantages of using a CDN (Content Delivery Network):
5. A Title Can Speak A Thousand Words
Yes, you heard it right: “The Title can speak a thousand words”. At least Google considers it as a major ranking factor, along with long form content and fast loading times.
If you have a new blog, it’s crucial that you work on your titles. New blogs lack authority, they don’t have any back-links nor do they have any social shares on FB or Twitter. Content is the only thread the blog hangs on, relying on just core content and titles to drive traffic. So it’s important to take some extra time to work on your the tools you have and put thoughts and effort into crafting an article or post you can proud to show off.
4. Tree Structure
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s ‘Web Spam Team’ has repeatedly asked people to use a Tree Structure.
When a Google spider visits your website, it tries to rate your content against each other. Say for example, if you have a blog on ‘Dogs’ and you have various articles related to ‘Dog Training’ like “How to train a dog in 7 days”, “Dog training 101”, “Why you should train your dog”, etc. If Google wants to rank your blog for “Dog Training”, which article should it rank?
Almost, all of these articles are about training your dog. Let’s say you want to rank your article, “Dog training 101” on Google for “Dog training”, you should have a tree structure where “Dog training 101” will act as the main article. The other articles, like “How to train a dog in 7 days”, “Why you should train your dog”, etc. will link back to this main article. It also shows that you have taken reference from the main article while writing your other posts related to ‘Dog Training’. It automatically portrays that the content value for the main article is greater than the rest of the articles.
3. How To Optimise Your Blog’s Social Performance
New blogs can be thrilling and daunting at the same time, mainly because you have a new platform to talk to your audience, but no one knows about it… yet.
Make it easy for your visitors to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin. It’s the only gateway in the beginning to gain recognition.
You need to have share buttons on the top as well as at the bottom of your article. You should also add a floating vertical bar with all the share buttons within your article. Here’s a WordPress plugin that’s pretty useful.
You should clearly display your ‘Social Profiles’ on the sidebar to make it simple for people to follow or add you, so the point here is ease of use.
This is an important lesson in web copyrighting as it’s something that’s interesting enough to attract links. It also goes for attracting more number of shares on social networks, this can be an interesting title or a controversial content (preferably the former than the latter).
Here are two Article Titles. Guess which one would receive more links and shares.
Of course the 2nd title will be more appealing to chase as it’s dramatic and to a certain degree, extreme. Take Upworthy for instance, they’re experts at crafting titles that are eye catching, making you want to ‘peek behind the curtain’ as they say.
Use tools like this on your own blog from time to time if you want to really pull an audience in.
2. Clean Interface
Clean is good, it keeps things simple and doesn’t distract. In a perfect world clean and neat websites would rule supreme, but we’re not quite at that point yet. So for the time being there shouldn’t be too many ads that distract your readers, you need to define your primary purpose for creating a blog. Is it to earn revenue from advertisements or to engage your readers and provide value?
You need to do everything possible to increase the time spent on your site by your visitors. The navigation should be smooth so that your visitors can surf between the pages.
It’s good to check out a few blogs in your niche or area of business before starting your own. Compare their reader’s engagements (comments, shares, likes, etc), it will give you an idea on how your competitors are engaging with their readers.
1. Build An Audience
When taking your first steps in the big open world of blogging you will suddenly realise no one can hear you, it will be like trying to shout through soundproof glass, it’s just not gonna happen.
Your blog will have zero visibility and you will be unnoticed to the rest of the web, so it’s important to know how to build an audience the right way.
Here are some interesting ways to build an audience for a brand new blog:
Whenever you get visitors to your blog, they will read your content for a couple of minutes and will probably never return, which I like to refer to as: The Echo Effect.
You will lose them forever if you don’t capture their email addresses, so you need to have an opt-in form (a box to capture emails and other details). You can easily integrate it with services like Mailchimp. You can also have a delayed pop-up on your blog or an ‘exit’ pop-up that will ask your visitor’s for their email address. You can then configure your email marketing software to automatically send them a message whenever you publish a new post on your blog.
It’s the simplest way to build visibility – Start off by creating a list of around 5-10 of the most popular blogs in your niche, then check them regularly and leave comments.
People are most likely to reply to your comments, so you need to interact with them by replying back to their follow up comments. Once you build a connection with the readers in any 5 sites, follow them on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
The next time you update any of your social profiles with a link to your blog, they will automatically see it and will probably start interacting on your blog as well.
Commenting on related blogs will not only help you from a traffic prospective, but also in terms of SEO.
People need to know and recognise your writing. When you don’t have an audience on your own blog you need to start looking outward. Check out popular blogs in your niche or business area who are looking for guest authors, then try to pitch them your content ideas (like I did with the CDNify blog).
It’s really important to build a connection with the audience on other blogs. If they love your writing, they will probably add you on their social profiles and visit your blog. Not to mention, the SEO values it will pass from these authority websites when you place a link back to your blog in the author’s bio section.
You can use the following footprints on Google to find new guest posting opportunities:
Social Media is a powerful tool and you need to harness to the fullest. I have already mentioned how you can use it with blog commenting and guest posting, even Google uses social signals as one of the ranking factors in their search algorithms.
On Twitter, people normally follow you back once you start following them (unless they’re a big name or too cool for that sort of stuff). You can easily use this technique to build a huge audience and can actually use services to automate your work.
You can also find Twitter profiles in your area based on their authority. For example, FollowerWonk is a great tool to automate your Twitter social media.
On Facebook, once you add 2-5 people in your niche you will get tons of friend suggestions. This is really powerful as the more people you add and interact with, the better your chances are at getting recognised when you share your posts.
On Google+, the most intriguing thing I’ve noticed is that they help a lot in enhancing rankings. It’s owned by Google and in the near future, Google will give more priority to social signals from Google+. You can easily find influential people by using a tool like Gplusdata.com and add them to your circles.
You can also join various groups in your niche and interact with other members. So, the next time when you share a blog post on there, you will have people who will +1 it or share it with their friends, which gives you fantastic visibility, but also helps in terms of your overall SEO strategy.
In conclusion, SEO isn’t the only thing you should be focusing on to get your content in front of eye balls. Instead it’s a whole array of methods that involve crafting, optimising, and promoting your articles. It’s also good to see what others around you are doing to point you in the right direction.
When starting off your blogging adventure, be sure to run down these 7 steps as I’ve discussed to truly get your content seen.
Harshajyoti Das is the Co-Author of “70 Secrets Revealed: How To Write Content That Converts 600% More”.
He is the CEO at Munmi.org, a company that helps small businesses with SEO, Social Media marketing, and Reputation Management. He also gives advice on Internet Marketing & Entrepreneurship on his blog FireYourMentor.com.