What to do and more importantly what NOT to do for a top ranking So you have got a brand new shiny website and you are raring to tell everyone about it. You submit your site to Google, Yahoo, MSN and a few directories. You sit back and wait for visitors to come pouring in, right? Wrong! Visitors will never find your site if you are not listed in the top few search results on the Search Engines (unless you are into Internet Marketing and have a big fat list of opt-in email subscribers – which 99.9% of us do not have). Because lets face it – if your website does not show up on a Google search, you may as well not have one. Its like opening a shop on the moon.
So what do you do to make sure your site appears in the top ten rankings?
First I will tell you what NOT to do:
1. Do not submit your site to the Search Engines Search Engines will crawl your site if its mentioned / linked on other big sites which are crawled daily (I will show you how to get your site there a little later).
2. Do not submit to thousands of Directories or FFA pages Submitting your site to thousands of irrelevant directories will do you more harm than good. Its alright if you submit to a few niche directories related to your field. NEVER use mass submission software and submit to FFA (Free For All) link pages as your site will be seen as spammy by the Search Engines and you will be sandboxed and/or penalized.
3. Do not participate in linking schemes The Search Engines are getting smarter by the day and participating in Link schemes like Link Farms, Webrings, Link Co-ops etc. will only hurt your site.
4. Do not use content that is already being used by hundreds of other sites Posting duplicate content on your site will attract a duplicate content penalty from the Search Engines. Thousands of cookie cutter sites having the same articles posted on them does not benefit anybody. Instead write fresh content. Search Engines love fresh content.
5. Do not use shady/blackhat tactics I have actually seen very experienced webmasters use stupid techniques like creating doorway pages or adding a whole bunch of keywords into a paragraph of text and then changing its color to the same color as the website background (so that visitors cannot see it but the Search Engines can) and similar blackhat tricks. This is very dangerous and can get your website banned from a Search Engine. Read Google’s guidelines about what not to do here – http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769
6. Do not stuff your site with keywords If you think your site is going to rank well because you have stuffed all your keywords into your main page, you have another think coming. Only use 2-3 keywords per page and make your website copy interesting to your readers first. Remember – people first, Search Engines later!
7. Do not use the same keyword for all your incoming links and don’t point all your links to your homepage If all the incoming links to your site are having the same anchor text and all your links come in to just the homepage, it looks artificial to the SE’s. Your incoming links should be spread across multiple keywords and across multiple pages of your site.
Now that we know what not to do, we can proceed to the 7 Steps that will get your site a top ten ranking but before I do that, I’ll say a quick word about keywords. It is most important to do your keyword research BEFORE you start promoting your site. If you end up optimizing your site and getting links for the wrong keywords, all your efforts will be wasted and you will have to start over. So the foremost thing to do is use a tool to research your keywords. My favourite tool is the one from Wordtracker – freekeywords.wordtracker.com. I would also recommend using Good Keywords (goodkeywords.com) and The Dowser (thedowser.com).
Now, here are the 7 steps that will get you into the top ten on Google:
1. SEO: Search Engine Optimization – This is single the most important step you can take to increase your rankings. On page optimization like putting your keywords in the title, adding meta tags, h1, h2 tags, image alt text, robots.txt are simple things you can do yourself. Few webmasters realize the importance of SEO. Instead they lay more emphasis on promoting their website through PPC (pay per click) advertising, Blog posts etc. There are many free tools on the Internet which can help you with SEO. If you are not technically inclined, I would suggest hiring a [http://www.seobay.com ]SEO consultant or a SEO firm to do the job for you.
2. Exchanging Links – That’s right. Exchanging links the old fashioned way still works. Most people would scoff at the idea but if you exchange links with the right websites, it can do wonders for your rankings. You should always exchange reciprocal links ONLY with sites which are related to your subject. Hundreds of link exchanges with irrelevant websites will do no good to your rankings – that’s the catch – relevancy, and this is where most webmasters make a mistake.
3. Build quality content – When you write quality content, people will WANT to link to you. So ask yourself this – is the content I am writing /program I am developing going to be interesting enough for people to want to link/tag to? Not only will this get you hundreds of links the natural way but also keep people coming back to your site. A win-win situation for everybody!
4. Participate in Communities – When you participate in forums related to your subject, not only do you gain reputation and business but also linkbacks to some interesting content you wrote or some product you shared with others. Use social bookmarking/ tagging sites like Digg.com, Del.icio.us, Furl, Reddit etc. to spread the word about your site. This will help you get links from high trust rank sites and ultimately increase your rankings. But remember – don’t spam! If your site does not add value to people, you will get negative comments. It might even hurt your site if you spam these services as they will ban your url which will also stop other readers/users of these services from sharing your site.
5. Write Press Releases and Articles – You should write articles about the subject which you are knowledgeable about and tell people about it through forums, submit it to sites like ezinearticles.com, findarticles.com, goarticles.com etc. Each article should have a link back to your site with your main keyword as its anchor text. Normally you can use the footer of the article for this.
You should write Press Releases about the new product/service you have launched. Your Press Release should look like news and not like an advertisement. Don’t use Press Releases if you don’t have anything newsworthy to say as it would show your site in a bad light. Press releases should be short and to the point. These will get you hundreds of backlinks from High pagerank and high trust sites.
6. Get High PageRank, High TrustRank, .EDU links – Links form high pagerank sites, high trustrank sites and .edu domains hold a lot of weight in the SE’s. It’s not easy to get these links but once you get them, your rankings will most likely climb a few 100 notches. So how do you get such links? No, I am not going to suggest that you sue Google so that you can get on CNN or something crazy like that.
A few suggestions: a. Develop a free software/tool related to your industry and spread the news about it. If you cannot do it yourself, get it developed from a freelance programmer. You can find hundreds of programmers at sites like scriptlance.com and getafreelancer.com
b. Sponsor a college event/seminar related to your industry. Most educational institutions have websites (which will mention everything about the event including a link to the sponsor’s website. wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
c. Advertise in Online Yellow pages, Product pages and Industry portals.
d. Distribute Bumper stickers with your website url printed on it (just kidding)
7. Buy links – I know a lot of SEO’s advice against buying links but they do it themselves quite often. Buying PR9, PR8 related Authority site links will boost your rankings like nothing else will. There are many brokers out there who sell links and many forums you can buy links from. I would suggest using TextLinkAds.com, LinkAdage.com and TextLinkBrokers.com. I would also advice buying blogroll links, blog posts and sponsored reviews wherever possible (on relevant sites related to your field only).
If you consistently and sincerely work as per the above suggestions, you should get a top ten ranking for your site within 3-6 months. If you don’t want to hassle yourself with going through all the above steps, you can always hire a good firm which offers [http://www.seobay.com ]SEO Services and they’ll do it for you 😉
Best of luck! Until the next article, Ameet Arurkar
Ameet Arurkar is the CEO of Seobay.com which specializes in Search Engine Optimization and offers affordable SEO services. More details can be seen at http://www.seobay.com