I did a ton of SEO tactics in my website building years. That would be about 14 to be accurate. I consumed Digital Point, then later I wandered to Warrior Forum. You will notice I didn’t link them, and please don’t Google them. You are wasting your time if you do, just as if you were going to try to keep up with Google updates. If you do it right the first time, you don’t have to worry about them.
Building links, buying directory submissions, ordering blog comments, or paying for Yahoo Answers are so 2009. There are full networks, classes, and communities that are setup to take in your money based on some “SEO Expert’s” knowledge. I am not saying that these folks can’t find fresh PR6-8 deep link pages that they can get your link on. I am saying they are not needed anymore. Back when I was focused on search I would read for hours every single night looking for that perfect strategy. Then out of nowhere things started changing. People were sharing, liking, tweeting, or pinning.
While SEO is important still, it’s not the same as what many envision. Off-page SEO, the inbound links and blog commenting, is no longer the important aspect. It’s now on-page and social. I know some SEO professionals will say that everything I am saying is utter nonsense and I have no idea what I am talking about. I mean…I don’t have screenshots to prove my points or anything! I don’t need them. We all know what I am saying is true if you open your eyes to it and understand that it makes sense. After all, what site do you go to that looks barren of content, but has #1 position in Google and decide to spend money there? If you have a reasonable IQ, the answer should be none.
Two things will bring a site up to speed within Google’s guidelines. The first is solid on-page SEO, which is also known as engaging content that solves a question or problem. The second part is a social media strategy. I didn’t believe this worked until I actually stopped trying to game the system and hit the bricks. Call shenanigans if you want but it will still remain true.
Let’s define on-page SEO quickly. It is making sure you have your meta data, tags, title, high-quality content, minimal outbound links, add some intralinking, and it’s human readable. There are plugins to assist in qualifying your SEO for each post or page on a WordPress site and other CMS platforms. Now, I understand keywords tags are dead, and meta might not matter, but do it. It’s a good habit and things are always subject to change. We know Google adjusts algorithms often too. I am like a Walking Dead survivor in the sense that I am not taking chances and besides, I am not just creating content for Google to index. I want any startup search engine to index me. I am not discriminating against traffic here.
When I create content, and you can notice I didn’t say purchase, I focus on making it worth someone’s time to read it, and possibly have them share it. I take my time and avoid keyword stuffing just for the sake of trying to achieve keyword density. Again, I don’t care about a machine indexing it, and you will understand when I get to the social part. I add imagery that adds to the article and compliments my topic, but nothing that will earn me a DMCA takedown request. If I can add audio or video then that’s even better! I want people to want to read more of my goodness. The longer they stay the more likely they will bookmark me and come back. I don’t do advertising so that part is not important to me.
I don’t set a limit on how many words I write or create clickbait. Clickbait should die, and people will revolt eventually, but until then I am happy to create content I can be proud of. My content should also be as evergreen as possible to avoid losing it’s luster after only a few days or weeks, but not boring like a HowWiki post. This article should be a great read today as it will be next year. Hopefully that stays true.
The mega social media platforms have come a long way since the early 2000’s and many have had their IPO’s and matured. Social scares Google as much as Adblocker Plus does. They were desperate to get in with Google Buzz and later the successor Google Plus that hardly anyone knows about except me and a select few others. The point is social is hot and it’s never going away. It may twist or transform into a new animal, but the world will never be less connected again. So how does this paragraph help you? It doesn’t, the next one will though.
Social media is the complement to highly-crafted, engaging posts. You write and design, or share your photography and social will lend a hand as long as you respect it. It’s the perfect marriage that allows you to reap things like the Reddit Hug of Death. I would love being burdened by that issue, having my website crash because too many people want to consume what I posted. That doesn’t happen often to a lot of people, but many do get the reward of getting more visits each day from social than search. To get started, you need to find what works with your type of content. You need to connect your website with 1-2 social media sites that compliment your work, and doesn’t spread your time too thin. Let me show you some examples.
- Photography Travel Blog: Pinterest & Instagram
- Current Event News: Twitter & Facebook
- Professional Job Seeking Advice Blog: LinkedIn & Quora
- Pop Culture Blog: Tumblr (gifs) & Facebook
- Cooking Community/Forum: Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram
- DJ Blog: Soundcloud & Facebook
- Almost any type of site: Youtube
That list could go on and on, but one thing should be a constant. You start slow and expand as you can. Register on as many platforms as you want upfront. Go ahead and reserve the vanity URLs if you can, but that doesn’t mean you have to post. One lesson I learned the hard way was getting social fatigue. I was trying to be everywhere at the same time. It’s not easy, but once I focused and sad goodbye to facebook, and jumped into twitter and G+ I was able to make deeper connections. Perhaps this sounds too basic, but I promise you that everyone goes through it. We all want huge traffic gains and fans.
The Actual Strategy
If you made this far, thank you. I want to give you at least two real world executable plans that you could apply to your website. It is no way a complete how-to, but it should paint a picture of where to start. I have no intention on diving in deeper than the scenarios below, at least in this post.
Scenario A (Brand new photography blog): This site is built on WordPress (not that this matters), by a 43-year-old woman from Washington that loves photographing landscapes. Her goals are to eventually sell prints.
- Assuming all the normal content is created (About page, privacy, terms…etc), navigation and theme has been sorted, and the the site is ready for actual content. Start preparing some top images you have taken and let’s format the first post. Make sure the pictures look nice, have download links, are labeled nicely, all the alt tags have been set, and h1-h6 have been used where needed. You may or may not care to watermark your images. We are formatting for the person who loves to view photography.
- Figure out your 2 best matched social platforms. In this case, I would probably use Google+ and Pinterest. I would not pick facebook, twitter, or even Instagram for a few reasons such as facebook is “you-centric” and not “content-centric”, Instagram is also more about you, and twitter is too fast paced for this kind of content. This is my opinion only.
- Once you have stellar content, and about 5-10 great posts, build out your social profiles to include links to your site, and a bio of you, and you may want to pick your most favorite images for you cover photo and set the profile (the smaller one) one of you. It makes it a bit more personal and you want the imagery to stand on it’s own.
- OK, we have the site ready with a foundation of content and 2 profiles all done up. STOP! Don’t post your links. That is an easy mistake to make. Instead, go buy Gary Vaynerchuk’s book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right hook. It’s the best illustrated book to make my next point. Let’s jab with liking other people and circling people you have interests in common with for G+. For Pinterest, let’s build some boards. Perhaps a board for each place you like to photograph in Washington State. You want about 10 boards and you are going to have to pin other people pins and like their stuff along with following them to get started. Here you can start by posting your images and repin other folk’s stuff along the way when it makes sense.
- By now you should start seeing a following happen. It may be very slow, but the more you engage without being pushy, the more you will notice traffic on your site going up and your followers growing. You should post on your website 2-3 posts per week.
- Google+ is awesome for incredible HD images. People will +1 them all day long and share them. Pinterest does the same. For a photographer this is a perfect beginning. Once you have these sites understood…then add a new one.
- This is the perfect scenario for someone starting out. It makes sense and you can repeat these steps once you feel comfortable and continue growing.
Scenario B (A musician’s site with not much going on): This site is built with Joomla (again, the platform doesn’t matter) by a 19-year old drummer from Texas. He wants to be seen and heard!
- This website has posts and has been around since he learned how to build it when he was 16. It’s been around for 3 years and doesn’t have the sandbox effect that most people say Google gives a new site for the first 6-12 months of it’s life. He has 13 videos on YouTube and his facebook page has 133 likes because he can’t afford to pay to boost his page. He doesn’t put too much effort into all of this, but now he is ready to. First step is to ditch facebook pages, then ditch facebook…for now.
- His “go-to” platforms are Soundcloud and Youtube. On YouTube he can maximize the visuals of him covering newer songs and embedding them into his posts. Soundcloud gives him additional reach for those on the go, but he might want to look for collaboration. He can track down a vocalist, guitarist, and maybe a bass that he can connect with through Whatsapp and send files to each other then edit them and post new releases.
- His YouTube might need a visual overhaul so let’s go to Fiverr and hire someone to create a new cover. Maybe it’s time to adjust to a newer logo for the website as well. If he has a few extra dollars he should forego the stop at Fiverr and post a job on eLance, or find a forum to hold a logo contest.
- Joomla has some really cool plugins for musicians that want to add events so he might want to think about that down the road. I added this more so to get people to think beyond WordPress. There are other options available.
- He might want to revisit his older content and see if he can reformat it or add some updates to it along with writing new ones. After 3 years, a website could use an update. Why not get a new theme and bring it to more modern times? A quick search in Google or visit to Themeforest can get this checked off the list.
- He needs to be adding new videos of something new he is working on or maybe a Q & A from fans. During the end he could be promoting his Soundcloud and getting plays and comments there too. Maximizing these platforms and gaining subscribers and followers will push his website and his name up fast if he learns to engage with his fans at every chance.
- YouTubers love being loved by a mention in the video of a response to a comment. Soundcloud isn’t the same. You see your love through direct messages and likes. If he is seeing this by now, which he should be then that’s great!
- Betweens spending his time focusing on these 2 networks and building fresh content on his page, he is surely in a pattern that is going to reaps benefits. He can choose to add in something like Instagram and update with photos of him jamming or maybe something like Vine and do 6-second jams. Ultimately, it’s what is comfortable.
Content is more than King these days. Content is everything. Either you have it or you don’t. Also having it to share and making sure you engage with people matters. The old ways of building links and hoping for Google love is not really alive as it once was before. Sure you can still do it and be seen, but not like you can by leveraging social in your on-page SEO strategy. You need both and you need to plan exactly how much time you have each day for it. A good example of this is that I plan on doing twitter in the morning and the evening, that’s twice a day. I do an hour of Quora, run through email several times and add a post on G+ a couple times a week.
You can adapt this to what you think works for you. It by all means is not to be meant as a sure fire way. Your content, design, dedication, and your engagement is what drives your results. I gave you 2 scenarios that are plausible. If you hustle, you will get there. In my eyes, off-page SEO is dead. If I focus on on-page SEO and social, I will naturally gain links from places like Reddit, Buzzfeed (I cringed to write that, and I am not certain they give credit to those they take from), and other bloggers looking for solid references. It exists, but you should have to worry about ever buying links!
Listen to me talk about it instead below: