So you have just invested three years savings into a site and you really want to push hard to make it grow, I would suggest you follow this advice to get your self going and heading towards that number one spot in Google.
You must remember top rankings come in time, so you need to aim for the easy terms first often referred to as "the low hanging fruit", gain traction, deliver quality and you will slowly but surely build a high quality site which will hold strong in the future.
I really don't want you to look for shortcuts, they inevitably don't work, trust me was I was green I tried them and got stung. One example recently is where blog networks which provided easy links were de-indexed in Google overnight, despite the networks thinking they were invisible; thousands of site owners were hit over night and traffic destroyed. I don't want you to make those same mistakes!
Put simply, a good site ranked well in search engines is a function of dedication and hard work. Let me explain to you the basic steps.
1. Develop A Mission Statement
This section and the one below did not rest easy with me, initially. I used to consider them both far to corporate for a small time blogger with big dreams. However having now embraced these two techniques I have become empowered, focused and I am getting the results I want.
The mission statement keeps you on track, it gives you focus for your valuable content enabling you to decide if topics or ideas are within your field. It allows you to determine and write down how you want your business to be perceived and ways you are going to engage with your readers.
The fascinating part about having a mission statement is you can share it with your readers, This sort of transparency works for blogging sites; SEOmoz and Smartpassiveincome are examples of sites that are very open about how they work. I believe that is part of their success. People gain trust in you and your business model, they learn what to expect and decide if they want to follow you on your journey. Of course keep the odd trick under your belt.
Your about page (you have got one I assume) is very important and here is the place to show and share you mission statement or at least a large part of it. You can also share your story and paint a colourful picture of your knowledge and experience within your field on your about page.
Here is an example of my mission statement:
Digital Scene is a fun, exciting web development company aimed at offering high-quality, free and value driven solutions dedicated to increase clients growth and progress.
I view digital scene as a partner with our customers, our community and our environment. Suitable, transparent advice will be provided at all times. My target is to help and direct, not focused on making every client a customer, but to resolve their problems in the best way.
My goal is moderate progression and annual profitability, using cost effective solutions to improve clients return of investment, with the tools and resources available to me.
The creation of a web based community is important to me.
You need to work hard on the mission statement, you can make it bright, fun and colourful, use strong verbs to convey your drive. It can change and be tweaked over time.
2.Harvest Ideas & Images
Blogging is tough, but with these ideas you can have a battery of ideas ready to go when you hit the wall called writers block. You also need images ready to go for when you sit down and write three high quality blog posts one after another. Collecting and storing data is key, here are a few tips:
- Photos - Get your camera phone or camera out and shoot everything you think might be of use one day. You would be amazed at what you can create with a good image crop and maybe changed to black and white. Collect loads of photos, buying them can be a costly game!
- Phone Notes & Recordings - When you are on the train and you have a flash of inspiration record ideas on your mobile. Make email notes and send them as a draft, use a notepad app and write bullet points or record your ideas as a sound file.
- Papers & Magazines - You see an article you like written in a magazine, photograph it, rip it out and store it in a folder in your PC or filing cabinet.
- Evernote - A great app for pulling ideas from websites, adding notes, recording voice notes and storing in note books.
3.Check Your Design
The design you bought, is that a bespoke design that fits your criteria or is it a template you bought? Does it gently guide your readers through the actionable steps you want them to take...?
You want that quality sales pitch to stand out, the buy here button to be clear on the page or the subscribe field should be sharp and crisp, check your site does this. Ask your Granny to find certain information from your site, ask your friends for feedback and action it.
You often become blind to your own site, having spent hours using it, you know how to navigate it with ease while others might struggle and become lost or confused, leaving quickly never to return, stay away from this trap.
There should be plenty of reason for visitors to stay, become engaged and return again and again allowing you time to build trust and inch towards a sale or whatever your goal is. Social proof is a good way to build trust, advertise how many people have engaged with the site before, show how many people follow you, provide testimonials for people to read, prove your worth!
The real gold in a site is consistency; the obvious ones are staying on subject, design colours and the like. However being able to talk to your readership on the right level is the glue needed to make your site stick. To help you with this write to about 3 people when you are creating blog posts. Have some specific characters in mind and tailor your post to capture these peoples interests.
I was recently talking to a buyer about this and she told me that when making buying decisions she would always have the same make believe client in mind, for her Miss Middle England. Her thought process would be deciding if the product in question would be suitable for that person. When blogging you should be using the same system and thinking: is this post going to engage with one of your reader personas, will it interest them, will they understand the terms you are using, are they likely to engage with the post - you get the idea...
I use questionnaires for my sites to build typical users, but you you can use social media, friends who you know are interested in your topic. You can find out lots about them, where they drink, what food they like, where they holiday etc and create posts that these people would be interested in reading.
Here is an example:
Geoff is 50 and drives a 2006 plate Range Rover Sport his successful business is important to him, but his Family is his first priority. He spends his time working and buying products to sell and networking within the industry he is in. He drinks wine and has a high level of social skills and ethics. He is relaxed to his friends and clients, but focused on business. To him quality is as important as the product, and it influences his buying behaviour. He enjoys the good things in life.
5.The Voice Of The Site
It's really important to create a persona for the site so things are written with the same tone... Using a famous person often helps - writing through their eyes, using words and a tone that they would use.
This becomes really important if you have others write for your site, else it will become disjointed, unharmonious and people will turn off.
This might sound a little strange but it works to give a consistent, targeted user experience. I understand if you are not comfortable with this idea, it has taken me a few years to fully adopt it, but I wish I had done it years ago....
This is your gold, get people to become subscribers to your email list. A simple auto responder can be preloaded with a number of your most important posts set to automatically send out a pre written post once a week. Aweber offer a fantastic paid service, MailChimp offer a great free service, I quote "If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free".
New posts can be sent once they go live on the site or you can set a specific day - maybe even when you have 4 or more new posts. The systems are very versatile and knowing your readers will help you learn when best to send your posts out.
A good rule of thumb seems to be between 1400 - 1700 on Thursdays from my findings (supported by MailChimp), however you can play around and check how often your mail is opened and clicked on, when sent on different days.
This is the bread and butter of your success "Content is King" is an old mantra and a very accurate one. Good content will be shared, creating very positive social signals (shares, likes, tweets), back links referencing or recommending your text helping to establish you as an authority within your chosen subject.
You must produce well written information packed articles, created with care and attention to detail. Ensure your content is thorough and well researched, link to trusted sites when data or theory is cited. Cover a topic fully not producing too many articles on very closely related subjects. In essence create content that you are proud of.
Where do you get ideas from?
- From Emails & Comments to you or left on your blog.
- Watching Social sites like Digg, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook allow you to see what is discussed. Look for subjects that create interest and conversation.
- Google News is great to find newsworthy topics.
- Google Trends allows you to hone into growing subjects and topics.
- Google Insights helps you discover what people are searching for around an area of interest.
- Seasonal topics related to your subject i.e. My Christmas Fishing Tackle wish list...
8.Social & SEO
To be honest I would not spend hours and hours trying to learn the best way to garner Google and the other search engines. I have wasted months and months of my web life trying to tweak rather than focus on creating good content and a good buzz around my site. If you knock out great content and talk about it the rest will follow, trust me it really will.
A good buzz means get out there on Google plus, Twitter, Facebook etc. and talk to people within your niche. Comment on their updates, share other good content, be a good citizen and you will be rewarded. Build relationships with other bloggers and ask if you can write for them, linking back to your primary site. Pick up the phone and call other web authors and speak with them, see if you can help them out with some content.
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Based in Helston, Cornwall, I offer Branding advice, Photography, Website Design, Digital Media Project Manager & Co-Ordinator from Digital-Scene - Website Development. Most of my work is identifying how to improve your website to increase its return to you. I pride myself in helping you get the job done simply, efficiently and effectively.