The biggest problem with all this craziness over SEO is that it gets confused with the real goal, which is simply to increase traffic to your site. If you could get meaningful traffic to your site without search engines, would SEO even matter? To take it to another level – think of this: increased traffic eventually leads to a better page ranking, so one of the ways to improve your sites SEO is to get traffic there. But isn’t that why we want SEO? So where do we start?
The Real Goal
Let’s start with our actual goal, which is not to rank #1 on Google, but to get more meaningful traffic to our site. Using SEO to rank higher in searches is merely one way of doing that. There are countless others. For example when I go to Geico.com, it is because I saw a TV commerical with a talking lizard, not because I searched for insurance in a search engine. When I first heard of GoDaddy.com it was because they had a memorable Super Bowl commercial with a hot spokeswoman, not because I found them online. I am not suggesting spending millions on a TV campaign, simply pointing out that there are other ways.
Before I get into solutions, let me relate an experience that will point out one of the major problems with basic SEO.
Ranking High with The Wrong Keywords Is Meaningless
I was once contacted by a potential client who wanted me to give a quote on SEO for his site. I looked over his site, put together a little proposal on a number of things I might be able to do and I also explained that SEO is actually a very complex and ongoing process. The problem is that this client was being told by someone else that adding some keywords would cost $250 per site and would guarantee #1 ranking on Google. Even after I explained that his site already HAD keywords, that it would take me all of 30 seconds to change or update those keywords and that anyone promising a #1 ranking on Google (for $250, no less!) is a scam, he decided the promise of a #1 ranking was too enticing.
Let’s look at this #1 ranking promise. There are several ways in which this little scam works. One is fairly harmless and you lose whatever money you paid. The other can actually be very harmful to the point of being BANNED from Google and you lose your money. Going by some of the estimates I have heard that go along with #1 promises, it could be a lot of money, too.
The harmful way involves illegal or at least dishonest, cloaked methods of basically spamming the search engines to think that your site is extremely popular and relevant. There is only one problem. Your site is not popular OR relevant and Google is extremely smart about this kind of thing. Once they discover it, your site is done and won’t show up in the searches at all. Let’s hope you haven’t gone that route.
The less harmful way is still a waste of time. Let’s say you get promised a #1 ranking but they fail to mention which keywords you will be ranked for. If your name is John Smith and you are a carpenter from Los Angeles, it would be ideal if you listed well when someone searches for ‘Los Angeles carpenter’ or maybe ‘Los Angeles contractor’. What if you rank #1 for ‘Los Angeles John Smith’? No one is searchng for that when they need a capenter. What is you rank #1 for ‘Las Vegas carpenter’? That is also meaningless, since you don’t live in Las Vegas. While this is not harmful to your site, it also not very helpful.
So let’s move onto solutions…
I am going to to outline a few quick examples of quick, easy ways to get some word-of-mouth flowing about your site and use some real-world examples of how they have worked or me.
COMMENTING ON BLOGS
There are many great reasons to comment on blogs.
Last week, I found an interesting article and commented on it. A while later, I was asked to write a guest blog post for the site, which will allow me to post back to my own site, sending people back to whatever page I send them to in the link. It took me all of two or three minutes to read that article and write a quick comment. I have yet to see the real results of this venture (since the guest post is not up yet) but I would like to pass along a similar experience from HowtoMakeMyBlog.com .He does a great job of spelling out how and why traffic was driven to his blog when he did a guest post.
If you spend time reading blogs (and since you’re here, I’m guessing you do), take the time to leave a comment when you find something helpful and expecially when it is a site that is relevant to what you do. If you remember from my post on SEO Basics, I mentioned the importance of having sites link back to you. Well, adding a comment is also leaving a link back to your site. While not every site allows search engines to follow the links in comments, many do. Even if the search engines don’t find you, all the people who read that post have the chance of following to your site. Just make sure you leave an added useful comment.
A great starting point is this post from webdevlounge.com about using social media to market your blog. But there are countless social networking sites now, all of which can kick start a conversation about you and your site. The biggest right now by far are Twitter and Facebook, which can also be linked so that your Tweets show up in Facebook but those are just the beginning. One of the best posts I have seen on how to harness all of the social service together was from Duct Tape Marketing.
Alternative Search/Listing Services
A great resource for those with services that cater to local clients, webdesignfromscratch.com has put together a great list of places to list your site, all of which focus on local listings:
- People’s Guide
- Google Local
- Windows Live
- Yahoo Local
- Free Classified Advertising And Promotion
Read the full article here: 10 Ways to Promote a Business. I would also add Yelp to this list. Check out Yelp and if no one has listed your business yet, list yourself and get some friends (or even better – clients) to give you reviews just to get the ball rolling.
This is not even close to an exhaustive resource for marketing resources online, but it is a start. Any other suggestions or sites that I missed?