So you’ve accepted that your foundation was broken and now you’ve got a new one (see Online Marketing: The Website Pt.1 before you proceed). Great! You’ve got the right team or the best website provider in the biz, a STRONG foundation right? Now what? Time to begin building your house! Like all houses, you need to start with a floor and 4 walls and a roof: Content, Links, Forms, Phones, Directions and Images…
The Return of the King
You may have already heard this, but I’ll say it again, “Content, is King!” This is your floor. It’s really almost part of the foundation. You can’t build up until you lay the foundation and put a good floor down. Take my blog for example, it’s all about content! Sure, I am selling services. But that is just an afterthought or at least, it should appear to be, because before you’ll think about paying me to do something for you, you’ll want to see value. This is how I show you value. By giving you content. Good, relevant content that has “the stuff” you are looking for. More importantly, it is “the stuff” Search Engines are looking for.
Maybe you’re business is selling appliances; well of course you need to have your inventory with links to the stuff you are selling, but you need to also have pages of content, detailing those things that you sell AND you’ll want pages referencing the local cities and towns you are serving (or perhaps not serving because they can’t find you online). Some of it may even seem remedial and unnecessary, but google likes simple. Simple is good. Simple seems natural. Complicated makes it seem like you’re trying to cheat the system and google knows it!
Maybe you’re running a Toyota dealership? Of course you want to have specials and links to specials and all your inventory with lots of great pictures. But if you don’t have pages of content talking about your products and the cities and towns you serve and basic information on all the different makes and models (used cars too) you sell, then no one is going to find you. You won’t show up in searches and all the rest is just a waste of time.
Kill With Your Queen
If content is king, then links are unquestionably your queen. The most powerful piece in the game of chess is the queen and in the world of online marketing and SEO, there is no greater truth. In fact, with enough quality links, you can basically break every other rule of SEO. Now, it just so happens, that by following the rules you will have an easier time getting those links, but in theory it still holds true. Enough links from high ranking websites could get a blank page to show up on page one for the terms you’re going after. Links are “THE POWER” behind your SEO.
There are several kinds of links. We’ll start with Internal Links. You probably noticed a few links in this article already. The links in the first and previous paragraphs are what are called internal links and they’re quite self explanatory. They link to another part of wikimotive.com. Take the linked word “SEO” in the paragraph above this one. The word “SEO” is what is called anchor text. It links to the wikimotive.com homepage. Why? Because SEO is a topic that I want wikimotive.com to rank for.
Over time, with enough content and links from both internal and external sources, that is precisely what will happen. So an internal link is a link with anchor text that contains an important topic for your customers, that links to another page on your site that should contain further explanation of that topic. Your internal link structure is important. You don’t want to just haphazardly sprinkle links throughout your site and just hope for the best. You should take the time to map it out. You MUST have a game plan.
Next you have external links and there are essentially 2 kinds of external links: DoFollow and NoFollow (This also applies to your inbound links). This is an area of HOT debate among SEOer’s. Some argue that only DoFollow links pass on SEO relevance. Others make the case that there are many examples of NoFollow links appearing in your backlinks profile. They also complain that allowing dofollow links from your website “bleeds” seo away from your site.
I tend to take a different approach to things when I take on an SEO project. While it is important to think about what works right now, I find it equally important to try and think like google. Their algorithm continues to become increasingly complex. The ultimate goal is for google to perfect relevance. This happens, in part, by identifying what is “natural” from what is “unnatural” as it concerns the web.
The fact is that the most popular, most linked to sites on the web today have a natural mix of DoFollow and NoFollow links. So whether or not google does or does not count NoFollow links today is irrelevant. It is a safe bet that they will at some point. CASE CLOSED. Bottom line: you need links. Lots and lots of links from lots and lots of places.
So why link to external websites? Its called “good-neighboring.” Let’s say, for example, that I want to write a blog article about a Nissan Altima. This article is going to be 4 or 5 paragraphs long and it will contain keywords I want to rank for. I make the words “nissan altima boston” link to my url marlboronissan.com, and the words “2010 nissan altima boston ma” link to my inventory page for 2010 nissan altima’s. Now technically these are external links because they link from your blog to your website, but they are part of your internal link strategy. Now I need to add in my external links. I link the word “Nissan” to www.nissanusa.com and maybe my article lists a local business in boston (since we’re optimizing for boston) and I mention that business name and link to it’s website.
So let’s recap: You send 2 links to your website for related terms that are important to your topic. You send an external link to an authority site (in this case nissan) which tells google to give additional weight to your article because you are referencing the authority. You send another external link to a business local to the geographic place you are trying to rank for which shows diversity and gives the article a “natural” look in “google’s eyes”. Follow this basic concept and you will have a tough to beat SEO blog strategy.
Lastly, we come to your inbound or inlinks. Pay attention here folks! I am going to give away the farm! This is the “secret” that virtually every good SEO consultant DOESN’T want you to know. They might tell you that you NEED inlinks, but they never tell you how to get them. I’m going to give you one of their coveted secrets. Take the time to spend a few minutes a day doing this and you will blow away the competition.
Inbound links to your website are the most important and usually the hardest thing to attain. A lot of experts will tell you that PR is not important anymore. I can tell you that when it comes to your inbound links, it is of paramount importance. How important? Well a single link from a site like wikipedia is worth 2.8 million links from a PR1 site.
OK you get it; high value sites give the best links, but how do you find them? Didn’t I mention something about a secret? Well if you’ve been reading the other articles you already know about firefox and SEOQuake right? So using your firefox browser with the SEOQuake plugin you need to use an authority code. What’s an authority code? Authority codes query google and tell it to show you the sites you can get links on! With the SEOQuake plugin you will also be able to sort them from highest to lowest PR!
The top five codes are designed to locate wordpress blogs that allow for commenting. The second group is designed to find Expression Engine blogs. Expression Engine blogs are popular among academics and some government agencies.
Having a mix of .com, .net, .org, .gov and .edu links will further enhance your SEO. With .edu and .gov links you can almost forget about PR. It is so rare to get one of these kinds of links that they seem to be scored or weighted differently by google. But you need a good mix! Remember natural is better.
Also, it is important to add in your keyword. This will return results that are relevant to your topic. You want to make sure your links are not only relevant to you, but also to the pages you are linking from. Otherwise the admins of that page will likely delete your comments or remove your links.
Get them to submit? on the line which is dotted…
Should be easy right? Ask for their info and it will come pouring in in droves! This is so much more complex than one might think. You have to continually find ways to ask for the info. Over and over on every page. It would be unfair to try and give you advice on form content and placement because there are so many differences based on your business model. If you don’t have a team to do it for you, fear not, I can think of someone you can call… 🙂
Phones can encompasses more than just your phone number. If you have a brick and mortar business then it should also include directions. Slapping your phone number any old place on your website is one of the most common mistakes I see on websites today. First of all, why are you putting your local # on a website? This must be one of my biggest pet peeves! You mean you’re willing to invest anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000 in building a website that you may not even own and you won’t spend a few hundred bucks a month to have unlimited call tracking numbers for your online marketing initiative?
Get it through your head NOW. This is not optional. If you aren’t willing to spend the money for a call tracking plan, you have no business building a website in the first place. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Moreover, you should consider placing a unique tracking number on every page of your website! Why? Wouldn’t it be nice to know which pages convert and which ones do not? You do have an SEO plan right? Inner pages with content for long tail terms go unappreciated because people don’t take the time to measure the success of their pages. Unlimited tracking numbers give you the ability to measure far more than just clicks. Consumers are eight times more likely to pick up the phone and call you than they are to ask a question via lead form. The rules are different for e-commerce sites, but you still need tracking numbers. So in case you weren’t sure what the point of this section was about: GET UNLIMITED CALL TRACKING NUMBERS.
The World in a Click
Directions. Is he really going to talk about directions? You bet. This is another one of the most common missed opportunities. Most people just put a nice link up in the header that says “contact us” or “hours & Directions” and thats all there is to it. But here’s a thought… Wouldn’t it be nice if your hours and directions could result in the people in all the various towns and cities you want to find your website actually finding it?
This is where you should begin to see how things tie in together. Remember those pages of content your supposed to be building that references the cities and towns of the people you want as your customers? Well why not put a link to your directions!? I know they’re hard to read. They’re not really meant to be read. But they list important cities of consumers Marlboro Nissan wants to target. This anchor text gives weight to those terms and can actually lead to a customer landing right on the directions. They also add weight for those terms to the page they are listed on. Lastly, make sure if you are going to build in a get directions function, that it actually works!
Can a Picture Be Worth 1,000 Words?
Most SEO people laugh at the old phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” For years people focused more on building flashy sites with lots of graphics and images. Then SEO came on the scene and it was all about text and links. But the right picture, with the right alt tags that is linked to a url CAN be worth a thousand words and even more!
If your website displays pictures of things you sell, then tag them and link them. Your customers aren’t going to go click-crazy on the pictures and be lead away from a sale or the page they’re interested in, but the search engines will eat them up.
A word about quality…
Take quality pictures. Some of the worst offenders are the people with the deepest pockets. Real Estate Agencies and Car Dealers are selling the most expensive products online today and still the majority of them take the worst photos of their products. I find million dollar homes with 4-5 photos. Car dealers still taking pictures of their cars outside where the color and detail get washed out. The $200 walmart special isn’t cutting it for the camera either. If you hired a tv station to do a tv commercial for your dealership and they showed up with a kodak easy share you’d have a cow! And only 18% of TV commercials generate positive ROI! Why would you put your lowest quality product where most of your consumers are going?
Get an amazing camera or even several. One of the camera’s we use to shoot vehicles at my Nissan Dealer was used to film last season’s House season finale. It shoots incredible HD video and takes amazing pictures. The camera cost $3,000; some of the lenses it uses cost over $1,000 each. It’s been paid for MANY times over from the sales generated. Like all things, you reap what you sow.
In our next article we’ll get into social media. These topics are so broad it is impossible to cover every scenario. So please comment and REMEMBER: There are NO stupid questions!