How to Get Website Traffic
If you want your website to generate revenue, you must have traffic. That means people visiting your website on a regular basis.
The more people that visit your site, the more likely it is that some of those people will become customers or clients.
There are hundreds of millions of websites in existence and if you don’t take action, stand out from the crowd, and promote your website, you’ll get lost in the noise.
Let’s start with the traffic basics. Click on the tabs below to open the lesson and work your way down from top to bottom.
Website Traffic Basics
Traffic means visitors to your website.
Visitors are simply people.
So, how do you get people to your website?
It’s a lot less complicated than you might think. But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The Only Two Ways to Get Visitors
There are only two ways a person can end up at your website. That’s it.
Once you understand this, the concept of how to get website traffic should become very clear.
Let’s talk about that.
What is direct traffic?
Direct traffic, or a direct visitor, is a person who types your url into the address bar, clicks on a bookmark in their browser, or clicks on a link in a document, such as a PDF document or a Word document.
For example, when I want to go to Amazon.com, I type the url into my address bar. I’m familiar with them. I like them. I know their website address. I don’t need to search for their info.
When I want to visit Google Analytics, I click the link on my bookmarks bar.
They have a service that I use a lot. I don’t need to search for their info. I know who they are and what they do and I like it. That’s why I have them bookmarked.
From a technical perspective, there are actually a lot more ways a person can be classified as a “direct visitor,” but it’s not necessary to go that deep right now.
Just think of direct visitors as people that are already familiar with your site and are intentionally returning, versus link traffic, which consists of people that “stumble upon” your link as they surf the web.
Direct visitors are important because they know you and they’re returning to your website for some reason. Most likely, they like what you have to offer.
But, if you’re starting from scratch, you won’t see a lot of direct traffic because no one knows your site exists.
If you absolutely, positively must know more about the different sources of direct traffic, check out these articles:
Most people will arrive at your website after they click on a link. That’s how the internet works. People go online and click on stuff.
The “secret” to getting traffic via links is location, location, location.
Your link could appear in the search results…
on social media sites…
or just about anywhere. There are lots of places to put/get links.
But, you don’t want to put your link just anywhere. That’s too broad. There are hundreds of millions of webpages. You want to select your link targets wisely so you get maximum value for your time.
Think of your links as advertisements.
If you put up a billboard in a ghost town, how effective do you think that billboard would be for attracting business? Not very.
Same thing with links. If you put a link on a webpage that no one visits, how effective do you think that link would be? Not very.
So, the key is to get your links in the best possible locations. That involves a little bit of strategy.
You need to know your market. You need to know the people in your market. You need to know what websites the people in your market visit. Then, you simply connect the dots.
When it comes to links, it’s much better to have quality over quantity. If you can get a ton of high-quality links, even better.
Where to Get Links
Get links from websites where your potential customers or clients go.
If you sell a product made primarily for teenage boys, you don’t go to the AARP website looking to get a backlink. You go to video game sites, sports sites, skateboard sites, etc.
Find out where your target market is online and be there.
A lot of people focus their link building efforts on getting easy links, like forums, comments, article marketing. Don’t do that. It won’t help you much and it could hurt you.
Google’s been cracking down on low quality link building tactics, so if you’re interested in building a website that survives future algorithm updates, focus on quality, not quantity.
How would you like a link from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Time Magazine? It’s not impossible. Look at the type of content they link to and emulate it in your own special, unique way.
Sure, it’s not easy to do, but that’s also why it has a much greater link value.
When it comes to link building, a lot of people only think about SEO and how they can get to the top of the search results. But, that’s narrow-minded thinking.
While it’s great to get traffic from Google, if Google is the sole source of your traffic, what happens when you lose your good rankings to your competition, or an algorithm update? It’s not a good strategy to rely on one source for all of your traffic.
The best strategy is to focus on driving targeted traffic to your website via highly-focused links.
Don’t worry, it’s also a much better SEO strategy because focusing on traffic, instead of just links, will ultimately lead you to the best websites, and as a result, you’ll get high-quality links which will improve your rankings.
To summarize, there are only two ways to get people to your website.
Get more Direct traffic by creating a website that people love and want to come back to.
Get more Link traffic by getting high quality, targeted links in the best possible locations.
Before we get into the different sources of links, or traffic, let’s go into a little more detail regarding Links.
A backlink is simply a link to your website.
In general, the more links you have to your site, the more likely it is that those pages will show up at the top of the search results.
There are 3 primary reasons to get backlinks.
1. Traffic. People that click on your backlinks will end up at your website.
2. Improve Rankings. Backlinks can help improve your position in the search results.
3. Relationships. Backlinks can help you build relationships with other people.
For example, if you get a link in an article on the Wall Street Journal, some of the people that read that article will click on your link and visit your website.
That’s how you get traffic from your links.
That link will also help improve your positions in the SERPs (search engine results page). Maybe you were ranked #9 for Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer, and now that you have a high value link, you rank #3 for Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer.
That’s how links can help improve your rankings.
If you got that link by schmoozing a writer at the Wall Street Journal, now you have a relationship. You may be able to help him in the future, and perhaps he can help you again.
That’s how links, or the pursuit of links, can help you build relationships.
An internal link is a link from one webpage on your site to another page on your site. So, it’s an internal link.
For example, if I do this – How to Build a Website – that’s an internal link to another page on my website.
Internal linking is a great way to boost links to important pages on your site and it helps visitors navigate your site too.
An external link is just the opposite of an internal link. It’s a link to a page outside of your own website.
So, if I link to Google, that’s an external link. If someone clicks on that link, they leave my website.
You can’t control who links to you, but you can control who you link to. If you link to spammy, scammy websites, it could have an effect on your own rankings. It’s a factor that Google takes into consideration.
Link juice basically refers to the amount of influence or “juice” that any given backlink carries.
For example, let’s say that someone creates a backlink to your website. Let’s also assume that there is one link on the page and the link is to your home page. If we say that the link from his page to your page carries 10 link juice units, and there is only one link on the linking page, then you’ll get all 10 link juice units.
Now, let’s change it up.
Let’s assume there are 5 different links on the linking page, only one of which is linking to your website. The link juice is divided and you’ll only get 2 link juice units.
Same thing applies to internal linking. If you have a webpage and you link to 10 different pages from one of your pages, the link juice will be divided. If you want to give all available link juice to one page, then only create 1 backlink.
The more backlinks you have on any given page, the less link juice those backlinks will pass on. Keep this in mind when you create backlinks.
You should give the most important pages as much link juice as you can and prevent the “weak” pages from taking link juice (e.g., about, terms of service, contact, non-ranking pages, etc).
The amount of link juice that any given link carries is determined by different factors, like the website where the link is located, the PageRank, how many links are on the page, the relevance of the website and the link, etc.
I don’t know if anyone can determine an exact number when it comes to link juice, although I’ve seen some creative attempts. Google doesn’t reveal the specifics of their algorithm to that extent.
Think of link juice as more of a theoretical concept to help you understand the importance of links and how you can use them to maximize their effects.
Some people even go deeper with something called link sculpting or PageRank Sculpting. You can design, or manipulate, your website to maximize where the link juice is distributed. You can sculpt links through SEO, proper internal linking structure and using “no follow” tags on specific links.
Unless you plan on becoming a hardcore SEO expert, I wouldn’t stress too much about link juice, but definitely understand it and use the principles to your advantage.
No Follow and Do Follow Links
“No Follow” and “Do Follow” are important for search engine robots.
When you create a “no follow” link, that means that no PageRank is transferred to the target link and no anchor text is transferred. That’s what Google claims.
The default is do follow, so really a “do follow” link is just one without any “no follow” tag.
While no follow links are still helpful for ranking purposes, it’s definitely better to get a “follow” link if you have a choice. Blog comments are common examples of “no follow” links.
A no follow link is also an indication of trust. When a link has a no follow tag attached to it, it’s kind of like saying – we’re not so sure about this site. Some people even use no follow links to “sculpt” the PageRank on their site.
They make everything no follow except the most important pages. Obviously, Google frowns upon that type of thing so use the no follow link in moderation – if you use it at all.
Pagerank is a number from 0 to 10. It was created by Google and basically indicates the strength or authority of a webpage.
Every page has a Pagerank and it’s determined by a bunch of different factors like the content on the webpage, the strength of the domain, the number of backlinks to the page, the strength of those backlinks and so on and so forth.
The more links you get from relevant, high pagerank sites, the more likely it is that the pagerank on your site will increase. That’s why it’s better to get links from sites with high pagerank as opposed to sites with low pagerank.
Ultimately, pagerank doesn’t mean that much. You still need to focus on the most important factor, which is – are you making money? PageRank is more of an indicator of how well you’re doing on the other stuff.
Types of Backlinks
There are essentially 5 different types of backlinks.
Exact Match Anchor Text
If you’re trying to rank for the keyword [internet marketing training] – this would be an exact match anchor text backlink – internet marketing training.
Partial Match Anchor Text
If you’re trying to rank for the keyword [how to get backlinks] – this would be a partial match anchor text – backlinks are important.
Unrelated Phrase Anchor Text
This is an example of an unrelated phrase anchor text. Click here.
This one’s obvious, right? – http://interwebsinstitute.com
When using an image as a link, use keywords in the alt text field, if it makes sense to do so. It’s like using anchor text for your image.
Not everyone agrees on which SEO tactics work best but here are some of the methods that most people in the SEO world can agree on.
- It’s better to get a backlink using anchor text rather than one without anchor text.
- It’s not good to be top-heavy (more than 50%) with anchor text backlinks.
- Anchor text links are great, but it’s important to get backlinks using your website url, related keywords, and random text so it looks natural to search engines.
- Don’t build backlinks too fast or it will appear “unnatural” to Google.
- Backlinks from webpages with high PageRank are better than backlinks from webpages with low PageRank.
- Backlinks from relevant websites are better than backlinks from totally unrelated or off-topic websites.
- Do Follow links to your site are better than No Follow links.
- No Follow links can help you rank better (this is based on the ranking signals report from SEOmoz, check out my summary here).
- Backlinks from many high-quality, unique domains are better than multiple links from the same domain.
- Backlinks located within the main content, as opposed to a sidebar, or footer, carry more weight.
- Backlinks located at the beginning, or top, of an article are better than backlinks near the bottom or at the end of an article.
- In addition to search engine benefits, backlinks are also good for attracting direct traffic from people that visit your website by clicking on a link on another website.
White Hat vs. Black Hat
The easiest way to explain the difference between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO is to say that White Hat is ethical marketing that complies with various guidelines (specifically Google) and Black Hat is unethical marketing that frequently violates SEO guidelines.
I won’t go into details about what kind of tactics Black Hatters employ, but I do want to provide you with a few guidelines for trying to stay White Hat. These are straight from Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines.
Consider these GUIDELINES before you make your SEO decisions.
1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
2. Does this help my users?
3. Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?
Pretty strict, right? Especially number 3.
No one would “build” backlinks if search engines didn’t exist. They would still strategically post links on websites that could drive direct traffic, but I think that’s the point Google is trying to make.
Focus on getting traffic to your website and the SEO benefits will follow.
For example, article marketing is a common method for getting backlinks. Google does NOT recommend article marketing as an SEO strategy, as you can see in the video below.
However, if you write a high-quality article, and post it on a popular article directory site with the intent to get traffic through your link, that’s acceptable. It’s not acceptable to post an article on a site just to get a backlink, or manipulate the search engine rankings, as Google puts it.
It really comes down to intent, which Google can’t measure.
That leads us to Gray Hat Marketing. The “gray” area in between the two.
It’s hard to say sometimes what’s acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. If you’re doing something to manipulate the search results, like building backlinks just for the backlink, it’s technically against Google’s guidelines.
Of course, Google doesn’t enforce their guidelines consistently. They make an algorithm change and it hits like a tsunami across the internet.
Websites that use Black Hat methods are removed from their top positions and fall off into oblivion. No notice. No warning. No sympathy. Unless, of course, you consider the fact that Google tells you not to do it a warning.
If you’re doing anything other than focusing on targeted traffic, you’re probably violating Google’s guidelines.
They don’t want people manipulating the search results by going out and building a ton of crappy backlinks. I’m not trying to scare you, I just want to emphasize how strict Google’s guidelines actually are. The extent to which they enforce those guidelines is a totally different story.
If you build backlinks to your website, you need to make sure that Google finds them. If you post a backlink on some obscure website that Google never crawls, they might not pick up the backlink.
If they don’t know about the link, you’ll get no benefit from it. So, you want to make sure that the sources you use for your backlinks are actually getting crawled by Google.
When you create backlinks, you want to make sure the search engines know about those backlinks. To check your backlinks, you can use the tools below.
There are a lot of people that have a good working knowledge of SEO, but I wouldn’t call them experts.
Be careful where you get your SEO information. Everyone is willing to offer their opinion but not everyone should.
The only way to really find out what works and what doesn’t work, is to run carefully controlled tests. Isolate one factor, make a change and measure the impact of that change. It takes time, knowledge and discipline.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to succeed at internet marketing. SEO is just one aspect of internet marketing. The information that I’m sharing with you is more than enough to succeed at SEO.
But, if you want to become an expert at SEO, then learn from the trusted SEO experts.
Here are a few reliable, trustworthy sources online to read more about SEO:
SEO Expert Tips
SEO experts that do SEO for a living don’t just crank out crappy articles all day. They work with major corporations, small and medium-sized business owners and they’re creative about how they obtain backlinks.
Most companies want to avoid any risk of getting in trouble with Google, so they have to make sure their methods are very White Hat.
Here are some of the creative methods that SEO experts use to get backlinks.
1. Broken links – Use the tools above to find competitor’s backlinks. Look for broken links, then contact the webmaster and notify them of the broken link and let them know that you have relevant content on your website that they can link to in order to fix the broken link.
2. Complementary Business – Find businesses that complement yours and suggest linking to your website to help their visitors. For example, if you provide accounting services, you can contact a law firm website that specializes in estate planning and discuss the possibility of linking to your website.
3. Offer a testimonial – If you use a product or service, write an awesome testimonial that they can’t refuse, and of course, include a link.
4. Write a Comprehensive Review – If you write an article about a business, contact them and notify them that you are posting it on your website and suggest they link to it.
5. Provide Missing Content – Write a guest post specifically tailored to content that should be on their site but isn’t. For example, if an estate planning law firm website is missing an article about tax implications, an accountant could provide that article.
6. HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a website that looks for experts or specific types of people to quote or interview for news articles. Signup for the list and reply to appropriate inquiries.
7. Develop a WordPress Theme/Plugin – Develop a WordPress theme and distribute it for free with a link back to your website in the footer.
8. Distribute Free Software – Give away a software program that includes your link or create free software that people will link to naturally.
9. Run a Contest – Run a contest that encourages people to link to or connect with your website.
10. Free Gift – Similar to a contest but give away a gift for taking a certain action.
11. Viral Content- Create (or try) to create a video, infographic, article, or anything that will spread quickly and create links to your content.
Common Link Building Methods
When it comes to backlinks you’re really only limited by your imagination.
Keep in mind that the easier it is to get a backlink, the less value it will likely have. In other words, anyone can get a link from an article directory. The value of that link is very low.
Not everyone can get a link from the New York Times. The value of that link would be much greater than a link from an article directory.
If you want to get better results than everyone else, set your sights high. Get high value links for maximum benefit.
Here are a few tools to help with research, rank tracking, link prospecting and overall SEO strategy, if you need them.
I don’t really recommend using the tools below if you want to stay white hat and keep your risk level down, but you should at least know what’s out there.
These are tools that can help you build low quality links.
Use at your own risk.
HTML Code for Backlinks
If you’re not familiar with html code or how to create certain links, here is a quick explanation.
First of all, if you’re using WordPress, you can simply highlight the words you want to create links for and click the link button. Then, you can paste or type in the url.
To create your own link, here are a few basic ways to do it.
Substitute your own link and anchor text, of course.
Backlinks are good for sharing information, driving traffic, boosting search engine rankings and connecting with other people.
The more backlinks you get from high-quality sources, the better results you will see in the SERPs.
If you want to stay “white hat” remember the guidance from Google:
1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
2. Does this help my users?
3. Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?
The best source of information regarding SEO is your own experience.
If in doubt, run your own controlled test and measure the effects. That’s how you learn firsthand what really works.
So, where can you get/put/place/build/acquire links and drive traffic?
Click on the tab titled “Your Website.”
Your Own Website
One of the first opportunities you’ll have to attract backlinks is on your own website.
You can create a website that looks and sounds just like everyone else’s, or you can create a unique site that has remarkable, original content that will get people to talk about you, write about you, and link to you.
I’m not saying it’s easy. But, that should be your goal.
When you create resources on your site that help people, that educate people, that make people laugh, or that entertains people, you have content that will naturally attract links.
That’s one of the best type of links to get – a link that someone else gives you without even asking. That’s what happens when you build a website filled with unique, remarkable content.
Keep in mind, remarkable isn’t the same thing as good. You can have a restaurant with good food, but that’s not enough to get people talking about you. You need to have good food, but that’s the minimum standard.
If you have a restaurant with good food and you completely abolish tips, that’s remarkable. People will talk about that. People will write about it, and link to your website.
That’s the difference between good and remarkable.
Try to create a website/business worthy of links.
Your Other Websites
Not everyone has multiple websites, but if you do, be sure to add a link pointing to your primary site.
Don’t get crazy and start adding links everywhere, on every page, from one website to the other and vice versa. It won’t help.
If you have a primary site, link to it from your other websites, like a normal person would, and leave it at that.
Don’t get spammy.
An internal link is a link to a page on your own website.
Internal links are good for passing link juice to other pages on your website, and helping people navigate your website.
Your main navigation menu consists of internal links. Those are links to pages on your website.
In most cases, people have a link to their home page on every single page of their website. That’s an internal link to the homepage on every page.
On the other hand, a blog post has very few links. Typically it’s published on the “blog” page and then as you publish more content, it falls off the main blog page and sits back on page 2, 3, 4, etc. of your blog pages.
If you want a blog post to rank better, you can use internal linking. For example, let’s say I wanted my “Best Web Hosting” blog post to rank number one for “Best Web Hosting.”
As I published more blog posts, I would create opportunities to link to that page using exact match anchor text, like this – Best Web Hosting.
The anchor text tells Google what the page is about, and the fact that I’m linking to it, tells Google that it’s an important page worth linking to.
So, just like any link, it can bring traffic to that page when people click directly on the link, and by improving my search ranking position, so people click on my link when they search for “best web hosting” on Google.
Use your own website(s) to help you get traffic and links.
Next, take a look at Guest Posting.
Guest Posting (or Guest Blogging, Writing) is one of the fastest ways to drive targeted traffic to your website.
Guest Posting is writing a high-quality article and posting it on someone else’s website, with a link or two back to your website.
Why would you want to post an article on someone else’s site? Three reasons.
If your website is a ghost town, publishing an article on your website won’t do much good. Not in the beginning.
Post your high-quality article on a site that actually has a lot of traffic and people will visit your site by clicking on the link.
For example, let’s say you’re a Realtor in Los Angeles, CA. You have a new website with no traffic.
So, you research and write an article about the “5 Biggest Problems to Avoid When Buying a Luxury Home.” You could publish it on your website, but no one will see it.
Instead, you reach out to “laist.com” and pitch them your article. They like it and agree to post your article next week.
Next week comes and 2,000 people read the article on the first day. Since you were smart enough to include a link back to your website, and they were kind enough to allow you to include a link back to your website, 100 of those 2,000 people clicked on your link and visited your website.
That’s how you get direct traffic as a guest writer.
When you publish content as a Guest Writer on someone else’s website, you always include a link back to your site. That way, you get direct traffic from people who read the article, then click on your link.
You also get a link back to your website from a high authority site. Getting links from trusted websites is one of the key ingredients for ranking well in the SERPs.
The more high quality links you get from a variety of sources, the more likely it is that you’ll move closer to the number one spot for “los angeles real estate,” or whatever keywords you choose to target.
As you post more and more Guest Posts on different websites, your rankings will improve and Google, Yahoo and Bing will start sending you more traffic for a variety of relevant keywords.
That’s how links from Guest Posting can help you get search engine traffic.
Relationships are important in business. Doesn’t matter if you run an online business or a real world business. They matter. A Lot.
It’s people that will give you money. It’s people that will provide you with the services you need. It’s people that will refer clients to you. It’s people who will let you publish an article on their high traffic website.
No matter how you break it down, relationships can help your business grow. The stronger your network is, the more opportunities you will have.
Relationships work both ways. The more you help other people, the more others will help you.
If you approach your relationships with the mindset – How can that person help me? – you won’t have a lot of quality relationships.
It’s not about you. It’s about how you can help them. It’s about how your guest post can help their readers. Will they enjoy it? Will they find it helpful? Does it teach them something?
When you’re looking for guest posting opportunities, make sure you focus on how it will benefit their website visitors, not the benefits you’ll receive from the guest post.
If you approach it the right way, guest posting can help you build great relationships that will contribute to the success and growth of your business.
Where Do You Find Guest Posting Opportunities?
Guest posting opportunities are everywhere.
Who has the best blogs in your market? Can you write an article that their audience would find insanely useful, and publish it on their site?
Are there any websites covering local topics that you could contribute to? Local business websites?
Are you doing, or creating, something newsworthy? Are there any local or national journalists that would be interested in your story?
Are there any niche websites in your industry that would link to you, or allow you to publish an article on their website?
Are there any markets outside of yours that you could look at for content marketing opportunities? For example, if you’re a real estate agent, maybe you could look at home repair/Do-It-yourself websites to give a new perspective on home repairs.
The key is to find websites where you can tap into their audience. Their audience should be the same as your target market. It doesn’t matter if their website covers a different subject, as long as their readers are people that would be interested in what you have to offer.
How Do You Convince People to Let You Guest Post on Their Website?
Marketer’s spend a lot of time trying to answer that question. Some websites will never let you post anything. That’s just their policy.
Other websites might have a formal process to follow.
Otherwise, you just have to use your best judgment, creativity and remember that it’s not about you. It’s about their audience and their reputation.
Most successful website owners care about their reputation and their visitors. They want to publish outstanding content. They want to provide a great experience for their readers. They don’t want some hack bothering them, just so they can get a link.
When you contact people, you need to explain what’s in it for them, not you. In most cases, the answer will be – great content that their audience will love. Even then, they might not be interested if they don’t know who you are.
As I said before, relationships matter.
I’m not saying you have to have weekly golf outings with everyone, but if you don’t read their blog, share their content via social media, comment on their articles, subscribe to their newsletter, or something, then there’s nothing to show that you are genuinely interested in them or their website.
Also, make sure you have a good website with great content before you try posting on other websites. The last thing a website owner wants is to link to a crappy website. If they send visitors to a crappy website, they violate the trust they’ve built with their visitors. Make sure you have a website that’s worthy of linking to.
Use guest posting to drive traffic, improve your SEO results, and build relationships. Find high quality sites, and tap into their audience by providing great, unique content that their visitors will love.
Next, let’s talk a little more about SEO.
SEO and Web Traffic
We’ve talked about on-page SEO.
We’ve talked about links, or backlinks.
We’ve talked about how to implement SEO on WordPress.
Now, let’s cover SEO, as it relates to web traffic.
Remember, the only two ways to get to a website is “Direct” or from a “Link.”
And, the “secret” to getting traffic via links is location, location, location.
SEO is all about getting your links to show up in the search results. Hence, the name, search engine optimization.
The #1 ranking in the SERPs is a great location for a link. Google will send you people that are looking for the exact thing you have to offer.
If you’re a personal injury lawyer in San Francisco, would you like your link to be at the top of the list when someone goes to Google and types in “I need a personal injury lawyer in San Francisco?”
Number one in the SERPs is a great place to be for targeted traffic.
Ranking number 2 or 3 isn’t so bad either.
Approximately 53% of the people will click on the first result. 15% will click on the second result, and 9% of the people will click on the third result.
Ranking number one versus ranking number three means you could see 5x more traffic than you would in the number 3 position. That’s a big difference.
Obviously, the numbers vary by markets, queries, etc.
If you’re ranked between 4 and 10, that’s ok, but you really need to get to the top 3.
Anything beyond the first page won’t bring any significant amount of traffic.
Search results are just links. You click on a link and it sends you to a webpage.
So, the question is – how do you get your link in the number one spot? That’s where SEO comes into play.
SEO and Google
About 66% of all searches are done through Google. If you want to rank well with any search engine, you want to rank well in Google.
Not that Yahoo and Bing won’t send you a little bit of traffic too. But, Google will send you a lot more traffic, which is why everything in SEO is focused on Google.
They have a sophisticated algorithm to determine which webpage is ranked number 1 for any given search query. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they don’t share it with the public.
They claim that there are approximately 200 different “signals” that they look at to determine ranking positions. Want to see an attempt to list all 200 signals? Here ya go – 200 signals.
That’s a lot of signals to look at, so let me give you the short version.
Focus on these elements if you want to rank number 1.
1. On-page SEO
2. High quality backlinks
3. Social Media
Is that oversimplifying it? Yes, it is.
But, those factors are very important. And, a lot of the 200 factors are included within the 3 items listed above.
Being in the number one position in Google is a great location for your link to show up because you’ll get targeted traffic.
But, it can take a lot of time and effort to get there. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. It can take months, and in some cases, years before you make it to the top 3 for a target keyword.
That’s why it’s also good to focus on other traffic sources, like guest posting, or advertising, which just so happens to be the next topic – Advertising.
If you want traffic fast, consider online advertising.
Pay for advertising on Google AdWords and you can show up for any keywords you want.
And it’s free…until someone clicks on your advertisement. It’s called PPC (pay per click). You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, so it’s guaranteed to bring traffic or you don’t pay.
Here are the search results with the ads highlighted.
You can choose the keywords when you want your ad to display. If you’re a plastic surgeon in Las Vegas, then you want to make sure your ad shows up when someone types in “Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon,” as well as the phrases related to the different procedures you offer.
Google AdWords is based on a bidding system. Those who are willing to pay more money appear at the very top of the search results. The ads that appear in the right sidebar pay less. The farther down in the results, the less you will pay when someone clicks on your ad.
There are lots of tips and tricks for Google AdWords. You can lose a fortune if you don’t know what you’re doing. And, you can bid on too many keywords with too many variations.
In other words, use caution. Either hire someone that knows what they’re doing or learn how to use it properly before you start.
Google Content Network
In addition to the Google search results, you can also advertise on the Google Content Network.
The Google Content Network consists of other people’s websites. Anyone can place Google ads on their website. When they do, they become part of the Google Content Network.
So, if you choose to display your ads on the Google Content Network, your ad could show up on any website related to your topic.
For example, if you’re a divorce lawyer, maybe your ad would show up on a family counseling website, where they write about divorce.
Ads Outside of Google
There are thousands, if not millions, of places to advertise online.
There’s no shortage of people, or websites, willing to take your money in exchange for advertising. Of course, Bing, Yahoo, and Facebook have their own ad networks too.
The key is to make sure you have a solid strategy about where you want to advertise, as well as the results you need. You really have to test and monitor the results closely. The key metric is conversions. How much do you have to spend to get one client, or make one sale?
If it’s more than the value of that client, or sale, it’s not a good idea to pay for advertising.
If you’re a plastic surgeon, you might be willing to spend a little more to get one client, versus someone that sells a product that nets them a $10.00 profit.
Advertising can help you get traffic to your site fast. But, it can cost a lot of money, so you really have to focus on converting visitors into clients or customers without spending a fortune.
Next section – Social Media.
It’s called social media for a reason. You socialize with other people.
Just because you do it online shouldn’t change the way you do it. It’s about interacting with people.
Listen to them. Understand them. Find out what they really want.
Then, help them. Educate them. Entertain them. Chat with them.
So, how can social media help you grow your business?
It’s not easy to build relationships, online or in the real world. But, that’s what you should be doing on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.
The key is to change the context of your communications. That means for each individual you “engage with” you go from being someone that they’ve never heard of, to someone that they have heard of, to someone that they know a little bit, to someone that they know, like and trust.
When they know, like, and trust you, they will seek you out when they need what you have. That’s when you make a sale. In fact, it’s better than a sale, it’s a lifetime customer, if you don’t blow it.
It’s a process just like in real life. When you build relationships and change the context of your communications, that’s one of the ways social media can help you.
Social signals are becoming more and more important as part of Google’s ranking algorithm.
What factors they use, and to what extent, we don’t know at this time. I don’t think they know the best way to incorporate social media into the SERPs yet. Here’s a good article on that topic, if you want to read more – Social Signals.
In reference to a recent question about whether the “online authority” of a person would become a ranking factor, Google’s Matt Cutts said:
Links are still the best way that we’ve found to discover that, and maybe over time social or authorship or other types of markup will give us a lot more information about that.
~ Matt Cutts, Google
Essentially, what Matt is saying in that statement indicates that they’re not quite sure how social media will play into rankings. That doesn’t mean they’re not trying different things, but it’s still a work in progress.
You can read the full interview here, if you’re interested, although most of the interview is about link building – Link Building Interview with Matt Cutts.
This is what we do know about Social Media and SEO.
All crawlable webpages have a PageRank. Social media sites are no different. If I go to Facebook right now and create a Business Page, it will have no authority with Google.
If it’s brand new, with no links to it, and no content on the page, no one will visit the page, unless I promote it.
If I post a link to my website on that page, it will have very little effect on my ranking, if any at all.
On the other hand, if I can get a link to my website on Barack Obama’s Facebook page, that might have some value in the eyes of Google.
Barack Obama’s Facebook page has a PageRank of 8. It has a lot of activity. It’s a webpage that has a lot of authority and value.
Even though links on social media sites are mostly “no follow” they still have value. A link from an authority page could possibly help improve your search engine rankings. Do I know that for a fact? No. But, there are indications that’s where Google is, or where they’re going.
In addition to the ranking benefits, you can also get direct traffic from people that click on the links on all of the various social media sites.
Does that mean you should start spamming your link everywhere you possibly can? No. Not at all. The real value comes when other people, with high value social media profiles, share your links. Not when you share your own links over and over.
Here’s what Google’s Matt Cutts said about Social Signals and SEO back in 2010.
Here’s the link that he referenced in the video – Social Signals & SEO.
Social media does play some role in search engine rankings, but to what extent, we don’t know.
Monitor & Research
Another great way to use social media is to perform research.
People are talking about everything on social media. All you have to do is find the conversations relevant to you.
For example, let’s say you’re a chiropractor in Chicago. If you go to Twitter Search, or Twitter Advanced Search, you can type in “back pain,” “chiropractor,” “back problems,” or anything related to your work.
It will show you all of the conversations with the keyword phrase you searched for. It’s a great way to come up with ideas for content, or to find out what people are talking about.
The better you know your market and your potential customers, the more likely it is that you will succeed.
The Bottom Line
Social Media can help you communicate with people. It can help you build a following. It can help you share your expertise.
Unfortunately, people use it to spam their message out to everyone hoping to make a quick sale. If you want to get better at social media, get better at communicating.
Below is a great video of Gary Vaynerchuk giving a Keynote Speech at an Inc 500 Conference. It has lots of profanity, it’s an hour long, and he talks about more than just social media, but when it comes to social media, he knows what he’s talking about.
Next section – Email Marketing.
First of all, what is email marketing?
Email marketing is the use of email to grow your business.
It works like this. You put a form on your website that collects an email address. It might look like this (just an image, not a real form)
You can offer a free gift, download, or ebook to persuade people to sign up, but it’s not necessary. That might look like this.
When a person enters their email address, they are automatically added to your email list.
Typically, people use an email service to manage their lists.
Some of the popular services include:
The email services allow you to do a lot of things. One of the things is create an Autoresponder.
An Autoresponder is an automated way to send an email, or series of emails.
For example, let’s say you want to send five different articles to everyone that signs up to your email list, but you want to spread it out over time. With an autoresponder, you can do that automatically.
All you have to do is write the email series. Set it up in your email service and you can have the emails automatically sent whenever you choose.
You can send email-1 as soon as they sign up.
Send email-2 three days after they sign up.
Send email-3 six days after they sign up.
And so on and so forth, all done automatically, after you set it up one time.
The whole idea is to build trust with the people on your email list. To build a relationship based on value. Give them helpful stuff – information, articles, videos, ebooks, etc., and they begin to trust you.
When you have something to sell, you can send an email to your list. If you manage your email list properly, a certain percentage of your email list will buy from you because they know you, like you and trust you. And, they want what you have to sell.
An email list can provide instant traffic, as well as instant sales. As long as you don’t take advantage of the people on the list by constantly selling, sending emails too frequently, or sending low quality information, your email list becomes a valuable asset for your business.
Obviously, email marketing isn’t the best way to get traffic when you have no visitors and no traffic. It’s more of a way to get people to return to your site. You still need to get traffic to build your email list. You can use other methods to drive traffic in the beginning (Guest posting, Advertising, SEO, Social Media, etc).
Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. If you have news, changes, sales, promotions, information, whatever it is, email is a powerful way to connect with your customers or clients.
In the next section, we’ll talk about Podcasting.
A Podcast is simply an audio recording, recorded on a regular basis, and published online, in most cases via iTunes.
It’s like a radio show published online, but people can listen to it anytime they want.
The word, Podcast, is a mashup between iPod and Broadcast because people would broadcast their message, then listeners would listen on an iPod. Hence, the word Podcast.
A lot of people listen to Podcasts while driving in the car, working out, traveling, or anytime they want something to listen to. So, when they’re listening, they may not be in front of a computer.
As a method for getting traffic, Podcasting is a little bit different. It’s not focused on links.
While you may be able to post a link here or there, depending on where you publish your podcast, the focus is more on producing high quality content and telling your listeners to visit your website for more information.
Even though it’s not focused primarily on link traffic, it’s still a great way to get new visitors.
According to Pat Flynn, who runs a very successful website at smartpassiveincome.com, it’s his #1 source of new traffic to his website. More people learn about his website from his podcast than search engine traffic, social media, or links from other websites.
It’s a good way to get traffic, but it’s not for everyone. It’s as much about your personality as it is about the content you produce. It’s also very important to be consistent. If you want to attract a following, you have to publish content on a regular basis.
Since I have absolutely no experience in Podcasting (other than listening to Podcasts), I will link to some excellent resources from people that know a lot more than I do.
If you think podcasting might be right for you, check out the resources below.
Next section – Video Marketing.
Video Marketing is using video to promote your business.
There are different levels of video marketing. You can use it just like a Podcast and publish a show every week, three times per week, once a month, etc.
Or, you can create a video every now and then and simply use video to supplement your written content.
You can use screencasts for your videos. A screencast, or screen capture, is where you record your computer screen to show your viewers exactly what you’re doing and how to do it.
Or, you can use video to create your own “TV/Internet show” and post it online every day.
The best way to use video is to do what works best for you and your business.
If your audience loves video interviews, and you have the skills to do that, go for it.
If comedy is your thing and your audience loves watching you “be funny” on camera every day, go for it.
Think about video marketing from 3 different perspectives.
When you create videos, you need equipment. You might need some, or all, of the items listed below:
Video Editing Software
The list could go on, but those are the most common resources.
As with most things online, the content for your video is very important. If you want people to watch your videos, it better be good, entertaining, helpful, funny, etc. because competition for attention online is fierce.
Just like anything else, there’s a learning curve with video. In the beginning, the quality will probably be low. If the videos help you connect with people in your market and grow your business, then stick with it and the quality will improve as you gain experience.
The third element you want to consider is the marketing perspective.
If you do it right, your videos should help you increase traffic or increase sales.
YouTube is a great source of traffic. If you promote your website in your videos, and include links back to your website on YouTube, it can bring a substantial amount of traffic to your website.
Not only can you get traffic from YouTube, but videos frequently show up in the search results. So, if you optimize your videos for search engines, you can also get traffic from Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Different people prefer different formats. Some people love videos. Some people would rather read an article. If you want to tap into a different audience, consider online video.
Here are a few good resources on how to use Video Marketing to grow your business.
Check this out next – Other Online Methods.
Other Online Methods
You can get high-quality backlinks and you can get low quality backlinks.
A high quality backlink is one that is placed on a high-traffic, authoritative domain, and is likely to bring link traffic to your website, and will definitely help improve your rankings in the SERPs.
A low quality backlink is one that is placed on a very weak domain, unlikely to bring in any significant amount of link traffic, and will likely have very little impact on your position in the SERPs.
The methods listed on this page are low quality. That doesn’t mean they can’t help you in some way. It just means that there are much better ways to get links and drive traffic, as we’ve already discussed.
High-Quality Links = High Quality Traffic
Your goal should be to seek out the highest quality sources for traffic, and links. But, the low quality methods listed below do have some value.
For example, if you post an intelligent, well thought out comment on a popular blog post, you might get a little bit of traffic from your link, your link could help you a little bit in the SERPs, and it can help you start to build a relationship with the website owner.
Those are all good things.
When you start to abuse the methods below, that’s when it becomes a problem. Commenting on blog posts just to get links, posting your link in thousands of forums just to get a link, spamming your link across the web, can all be a massive waste of time and could possibly cause you problems.
Google has been adjusting their algorithm to filter out websites with low quality link profiles. That means thousands of links from spammy, low value sites. Or, links on websites that are known to have paid links.
More than anything, low quality link building is a ineffective use of your time. One well placed link on a high quality website will have a much greater impact than a thousand spammy forum links.
If the link building method can be automated, it doesn’t have much SEO, or traffic value. With that said, here are some low quality link building methods that have some value if you don’t abuse them.
Common Link Building Methods
Keep in mind that the easier it is to get a backlink, the less influence it will likely have. In other words, anyone can get a link from an article directory. The value of that link is very low.
Not everyone can get a link from the New York Times. The value of that link would be much greater than a link from an article directory.
If you want to get better results than everyone else, set your sights high. Get high value links for maximum benefit.
1. Article Marketing – A popular method for getting backlinks, although NOT recommended by Google. The recent crackdown on low-quality content farms has made this a more risky option, but still somewhat effective.
There are literally thousands of article directories online. There are also mass article spinning/submission tools that will submit your article to hundreds or thousands of article directories for you. Most of the article directories are worthless.
A backlink is only good if Google knows about it, or people click on it to visit your site. To verify that your articles are being picked up by Google robots, sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and see if the website is listed in the “Links to Your Site” section.
If it’s not on your list of links, Google either doesn’t know about it, or doesn’t give the site much weight.
It’s always best to go for quality over quantity. That goes for the quality of the articles you publish and the websites where you publish your articles.
2. Free Blogs – Create a blog using free software. Post your own content on those blogs with links back to your pages.
Be careful because the Terms and Conditions on many sites prohibit using their services just for link building. I’ve had sites shut down with no notice whatsoever on Tumblr, Blog.com and Blogger. Do NOT use any keywords related to internet marketing or make money online in the domain name.
Check their terms and conditions, otherwise you could waste a lot of time and effort. I’ve also seen several free blogging sites go out of business with no warning whatsoever. Posterous is the latest casualty.
Also, search engines don’t always pick up these sites unless you build backlinks to them, so be prepared to do a little work to get your links noticed.
3. Social Media – While Social Media is becoming more important from an SEO perspective, it’s more about who’s sharing your content, not how many times can you spam your own links across the social media universe.
Make sure you put your links on your social media accounts, and share your content, but after that, focus on creating awesome content that other, influential people will share.
And, of course, social media sites are great for connecting with people.
4. Forums – Another method for getting backlinks is using forums. Typically, in forums you can get a link in the profile section and in your signature line.
Of course, you can get links within the content too but unless you have a legitimate reason for posting links in your posts, the moderators will probably delete it or ban you from the forum completely.
In addition, search engines are familiar with this method and your site could end up in the sandbox (far, far away from the first page of search results). If you use this method, I would make sure you have a solid foundation of backlinks built up first.
The forum must be open to the public, of course, for the link to provide any benefit. Here are a few forums related to internet marketing, but obviously you want to find forums related to your market.
To do that simply go to Google and enter this:
your topic +forum
5. Press Releases – If you have something that’s newsworthy, you can prepare a press release, distribute it to various press release directories and others could pick it up too. Essentially, it’s just like article marketing, except the format and content is different.
6. Directories – There are thousands of directories online. Most of them are worthless.
If you have a website that’s in a very narrow market, it can be helpful to get listed in a directory relevant to your market, but otherwise directories don’t provide much value, with the exception of a few of the directories listed below.
But you never know – you might have a different experience with better results.
Note: Some of these directories charge a fee.
7. Blog Commenting – Commenting on popular blogs is another way to get backlinks. It’s also a way to connect with other people and get direct traffic from the people that click on your link in comments.
Yes, most comment links are “no follow.” But, most current research indicates that having a balance of no follow links can actually help you rank better.
I wouldn’t recommend using this as your primary method of link-building but commenting on blog posts can provide traffic and social benefits.
Obviously, you want to find blogs related to your market with good traffic. You can do that by searching Google and clicking on the “Blog” category in the left column.
Or, you can run a search like this – your subject +blog.
Or you can just go to http://blogsearch.google.com.
There is also a WordPress plugin called Comment Luv. If it’s installed on a site, any person that leaves a comment also gets a link to their last blog post, if you enter your website address, of course.
You can find blogs online that use this plugin just by running a search. Here is THE Comment Luv site with Comment Luv installed – http://comluv.com/blog.
I just want to emphasize again that commenting on blogs for traffic or backlinks is not a good long-term strategy. Use this in moderation and I would actually use it more for connecting with other bloggers.
If you’re looking for blogs with active comment sections, here are a few “internet marketing related” blogs that consistently publish high-quality, helpful content.
I mentioned before that if you can automate a linkbuilding process, it probably has very little value. Just to show you how easy it is to spam links across the web, I listed a few tools that can do it for you.
I don’t recommend using the tools below if you want to stay white hat and keep your risk level down. There are much more effective ways to spend your time. But, here are a few tools that can help you build hundreds of links automatically.
Other Online Methods Summary
The more backlinks you get from high-quality sources, the better results you will see in the SERPs.
You can waste a lot of time building low quality backlinks with very little impact. Or, you can get one backlink from a high ranking, authoritative site and see a significant improvement in traffic and rankings.
In our next section, we’ll talk about – The Real World.
Real World Opportunities
Sometimes, when people build “an online business” they forget about the real world. Beyond the computer. Where people exist in real life, see each other face to face, and shake hands and everything.
Relationships matter. And, context matters.
First, there are people that don’t know you. Strangers.
Then, there are people who are aware of you but don’t really know you. Maybe they’ve seen you online or in real life but have never talked to you.
Then, there are people that you have talked with or interacted with online and they are aware of your existence.
At the highest level, there are people that know you very well, they like you, and they trust you. When you ask a person that knows, likes and trusts you for help with something, they are much more likely to help you compared to a stranger, or a casual acquaintance.
You’re much more likely to build strong relationships when you meet with people face to face. It helps elevate the context of your relationship from casual acquaintances to friends, business partners, clients, customers, or whatever.
When you have a strong network, it can help you grow your business. It’s easier to get help promoting things. It’s easier to get traction on social media. It’s easier to get advice. It’s easier to form strategic partnerships. There are lots of benefits that come from having good, strong relationships with other people.
One of the best ways to form those relationships is to meet face to face in the real world.
Even though this course is focused on online marketing, don’t forget about the real world and how interacting with people can help you grow your business. At the end of the day, it’s just people selling things to other people, even if you operate exclusively online.
Look into these types of real world activities to help you build relationships.
Chamber of Commerce Events
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive. You’re only limited by your imagination.
If you want more details on networking, I highly recommend the books below.
Now the real fun starts. Learning through experience.
With most things in life, success is all about execution.
Knowledge is necessary, but it’s not enough.
Lots of people look for that one big secret, that one big break. But in most cases, success comes from constant, never-ending improvements. Small steps in the right direction.
Now that you know the right direction, you have to execute. You have to apply what you know. You have to improve things. You have to make adjustments. You have to keep learning from your experiences.
The internet marketing concepts are simple. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to execute. Simple is not the same thing as easy.
If I told you that all you have to do to succeed in football is carry the ball into the end zone, that’s a very simple concept. It’s not so easy to execute.
Even if I taught you the rules of football and the different strategies involved, you would still need to get out on the field and execute day after day. It’s not easy to execute all the time at an extremely high level.
Business success on the internet is no different. The concepts are simple – build an awesome website focused on conversions, with great, helpful content and get links in strategic locations to drive traffic.
But, it takes time and practice before you become “really good” at it. That’s okay. Be patient. As long as you’re moving in the right direction, you’ll be making progress.
If you want to be great at what you do, you need to keep learning. Always.
While this course teaches you the fundamental principles for online success, you can always learn more to get better at what you do.
For example, if you want to get better results with Social Media, maybe you need to take a course on the best tactics for using social media to grow your business.
Or, perhaps you want to take a Guest Blogging course so you can get really good results with a Guest Blogging campaign.
And don’t forget that the online landscape is constantly evolving. Some strategies become ineffective. Some tactics become more important.
If you want to be great, find the areas that will have the biggest impact on your business and learn more about them.
Break the Rules
Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of internet marketing, I want to suggest breaking the rules.
If you do the same thing that everyone else is doing, in the same way they’re doing it, you will blend in with everyone else. That’s the worst thing you can do for your business.
I’m not suggesting you forget everything you know. I’m not suggesting you do things different just for the sake of being different. But, you have to ask yourself “why are things done this way and can I do it in a different way, and get better results?
There’s a great book by Seth Godin called Purple Cow.
When you drive down the highway and you see cows on the side of the road, you probably don’t even look. You’ve seen cows before. Nothing special, right?
But, if you drive down the highway and you see a purple cow, that would capture your attention. You might even stop and look. Or, take a picture and send it to all your friends.
You want to find that purple cow for your business. How can you create something that will capture attention and get people talking?
That’s what I mean by breaking the rules. Don’t try to be the same as your competition. Try to be different, but for a good reason.
Keep in Touch
Last but not least, keep in touch.
We created this course to help people and we want to make sure it does that.
We want to know how your business is doing.
What successes have you had? How did you achieve them?
What struggles have you had? How did you overcome them?
We can learn a lot from you, so please feel free to contact us if you have anything you want to share.
Thanks so much for visiting Interwebs Institute and best of luck to you on your journey.