SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is comprised of techniques to make a site rank highly (appear on or near the first page of) search engines. Why is that so vital? Consider your own habits whilst searching. You type in a search term and hit enter. The first page of results appear: you scan down to see if anything is what you need. If so, you click and go to that site. If not, you type in another term, don’t you? Sometimes, yes, you’ll go to the second or third page.
Most of us never make it past that first page! If your site happens to be on page 4 or worse, you just missed out on a possible lead. Simple SEO techniques can help your site appear on that coveted first page… a “Black Hat” SEO professional has no qualms about using bad techniques (those that give the SE (Search Engine)’s false results.)
Trust me here: you do NOT want a Black Hat (they can have your site appear on Google’s top spots, but when the SE begins to examine your rapid rise… as I said above, it isn’t pretty getting knocked of Google.)
Thanks to Google’s recent changes, Black Hat techniques no longer work quite as well as they did. Of course certain methods do still work… but are never a good idea. Will White Hats take longer? Yes, in two senses.
You might hire a White Hat to optimize a certain new page. They use certain tech- niques that I’ll show you: results will be visible roughly between 3 weeks and a cou- ple of months. But your site is legit because it has relevant information that users need.
Happy Google! You might think, oh man I’m just getting starting here, what’s the worst? Piss- ing off Google and getting results, or have to wait a week or two?
SEO for Authority Sites
What is an ‘authority’ site? Easy: it has dependable content that is specialized, expert and frequently updated. Note that your small site isn’t updated much, if ever: ergo ‘passive income.’ Authority sites, although more work, definitely pays off: they’re more long-term than niche sites usually are and they bring in more income. Can your small site become an authority site?
Absolutely, but you can’t sit on your arse and wait for it to happen! You must post weekly at least three fresh, unique articles relevant to your topic, for starters. I started with one niche site, then built 19 more. Once I’d learned enough about SEO techniques that the small ones were generating steady income, I played with one of them: now it’s an authority site.
I have had offers, good offers, to sell some of my niche sites: another benefit of small sites that don’t change!
SEO for Authority sites is no different than niche sites these days. Authority sites target far more keywords than a small site and can be ranked highly for several keywords: niches target long-tail keywords (specific search terms which are obviously longer than general ones. “Saint Bernards” vs. “Saint Bernard illnesses” for example.) That’s the only difference.
You’ll optimize both sites using the same techniques. Some say that targeting keywords is no longer efficient: I’d beg to disagree. Users still type them in: and although it’s now harder to discern which terms led users to your site, use of Google Trends (as we’ll discuss) will show over a period of time how your site ranks. See the section on
SEO for Smaller Sites
Content for a niche site needs to be very specific to that niche. You could add case studies, academic knowledge, industry news… the more specific the better. In- novations are great, as are graphs and eye-catching informatics. You’ll have one primary long-tail keyword that you will ensure is in the correct places (see On-Page SEO for specifics.)
What are keywords?
A major component of SEO is the ‘keyword’. A keyword is a word or phrase that people use to find a site: they type it into a search engine. These days, one can’t get information about which keywords were used to access a site, but search engines still scan for natural searches. In other words, the keywords no longer have to be exact: instead of “ActionScript coding”, your content could contain “…programmed in ActionScript,” “If you are coding in Flash/ActionScript.”
Search engines have become smarter, which makes for a far better user experience but can make SEO practices more difficult if you haven’t been using relevant, specific content all along. Which of course you have, as you’re following this manual!
A keyword is comprised of three parts: The head – the main subject of your site. The modifier – defines or explains the subject. Locations, brands, and styles are all good modifiers. The tail – clarifies or adds detail to the head.
All three components are not necessary to form a keyword, of course. Most of your traffic will come from your primary keyword and variations thereof. Your primary keyword will indeed consist of all three parts described above, and will specifically regard your chosen small or Authority site.
This keyword is known as ‘long tail’ and is the heart of your SEO. There are two basic types of keywords:
1.Primary – Keywords most directly related to your site. These will have higher
‘competition’ (meaning that more sites will optimize for these keywords) than secondary.
1.Secondary – lower competition, but highly targeted traffic.
Say your business is selling horses. The obvious keyword is ‘horse’ of course. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) Now, every equine business out there will also use ‘horse’ as a primary keyword: from barns, riding schools to tack shops. Your horses happen to be Swedish Warmbloods: ergo one of your secondary terms will be “Swedish Warmbloods.” Google Adwords is great to help you find those secondary terms to boost that SEO!
Your primary keywords will be long-tailed. Again, less competition for these, but targeted specific traffic. Just what you want.
Overview of Site Optimization
You’ve already taken that vital first step to properly using SEO techniques to en- sure your sites are highly ranked: you own this book! Correct SEO begins before a site is born—truly it never ends until you’re tired of making money. What are the overall steps to correctly optimize a site?
From the conceptualization stage, list possible topics and research the best keywords using keyword tools to see if the topics were too broad, or if chosen keywords are used by so many sites (high competition) that they’re essentially useless.
During site design and development, avoid the use of non SEO friendly tools such as Flash and ensure your site layout uses your keywords (see my keyword discussion.)
Whenever you add content, ensure that content is relevant to the search terms you’ve optimized for! Don’t discuss the price of eggs in China, then insert “We love Great Dane puppies in San Francisco” in a header.
Optimize your content with OnPage SEO Set up and utilize social media
Check how your site is doing by using free tools such as Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and your choice of free SEO toolbars.
No matter what level of technical expertise you possess, you too can use SEO techniques to get your sites found by large numbers of people. Now it’s time to get to work! First, you’ll need topics for those sites…
Use Keywords to Help Determine Topics for Your Sites
How do you decide on topics for 20 different niche sites? It isn’t easy to find topics that aren’t already thoroughly covered! Writers are often told to “write what you know.”
I decided this was good advice for starting those niche sites: make a list of my hobbies, my interests, those of my wife and kids as well. When I had my initial list, I researched each topic and narrowed down the number by checking into
Products (if any) available for sale and discussion: products with large price tags and low sales volume Affiliate programs available? (Such as Amazon – you list their products, any time you sell something you make a percentage.)
Are there similar sites where income is being generated? And – most importantly – can you write fresh articles on this topic? (You’ll do research, of course – but your knowledge should be such that writing is fairly easy. There will be a LOT of writing involved: that’s the name of the game!)
How competitive your selected niche really is (how many other sites are targeting your same topic) There are several vital keyword research elements which will indicate how competitive a given niche is. Understanding these elements will put you way ahead of the game:
domain authority – how well a niche will perform (or rank) in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages)
page authority: same as domain, but how a particular page on the niche site ranks.
page rank: Importance of a page, a numeric value that is shown by several of the tools I will list. Google’s founders invented the term whilst in college.
domain age: Length of time a domain (www.google.com is a domain,) has existed. The older a site is, the more trusted it is.
juice links: links to your niche from highly-ranked sites. If www.weLove- Poodles.com gives you a link, but so does www.NewYorkTimes.com, which one do you think is going to impress people (and search engines?) NYT, of course. Your link there is a juiced link!
An easy way to find great keywords for a specific topic is Soolve’s free tool. Just type in your topic, press enter, and results appear from many different search engines.