This is a guest post from Randall Davidson of Audio Transcription, a small transcription service that generates much of its business from organic search traffic.
In 2011, there are more people than ever who claim they can help you get to the top of the Google rankings. Most either have something to sell or are new to search engine optimization (SEO) and pitching strategies that are suspicious at best and likely to get your site banned at worst. Here are 10 tried-and-true ways to advance your SEO efforts. If any of them seem like a lot of work, it’s probably because they are; legitimately building a successful online presence is hard work, but it can pay off. Here are 10 strategies to help get you there:
- Submit articles to legitimate article directories. Article directories allow you to write an original, helpful article and include a link or two back to your site (usually at the end of the article in what is called the “resource box”). Not only do the backlinks help your site rank higher, but old, powerful article directories actually have enough authority with Google that even their new articles generally rank pretty highly. That means the links in the article could actually send you traffic. Two of the most powerful article directories are EzineArticles.com and Buzzle.com.
- Write guest posts (like this one). Writing a guest post (or many) allows you to expose your knowledge and writing style to new audiences (and potentially a portion of those audiences will choose to follow your blog going forward). In addition, most guest post hosts will allow you to include a few links back to your site in or at the end of your post. To find guest blogging opportunities, email your guest post ideas (or even an entire, original post) to your favorite bloggers (hopefully in your same niche) and ask if you might be able to contribute your original content to their blog. Be sure to work with them to ensure your content will be accepted by their audience.
- Claim your local listings. If your business has a physical address, be sure to claim your location on Google Places (to get in Google Maps and localized Google searches), Bing Maps, Yahoo! Local and YellowPages.com. This will help you rank for longtail phrases related to your location (like “Orlando dentist” or “Riverside lawyer”). There are a ton of other local directories, but these “big four” should get you pretty far.
- Set up Google Alerts for the topics your website covers. Setting up a Google Alert for “San Francisco theater tickets” would mean that you would get an email anytime the phrase “San Francisco theater tickets” is used online. If you run a theater in San Francisco, it’ll be important for you to interact with the key online influencers when it comes to San Francisco theaters. Setting up a Google Alert will allow you to reach out to anyone who begins or participates in a discussion that could be relevant to your business.
- Stick to a plan. Don’t just approach SEO as something you do once in a while. The key to SEO is consistency. Figure out what works for you and continue your efforts, even if they don’t immediately pay off. You should measure progress in months, not days or hours.
- Only chase legitimate links. Don’t pay for links – Google will notice. Don’t get sucked in by anything that sounds too good to be true (i.e. “I can get you 1,000 links in 24 hours”). The fact of the matter is that anything in SEO that sounds too good to be true likely is – and it’s a good bet that these types of offers will get you banned from Google and other search engines altogether.
- Participate in forums. While some forums allow you to place a link in your forum signature, that’s not the only SEO benefit to participating. Forums are generally places where people go to discuss niche topics. The people who care enough about a given topic to participate in a forum are also likely to have active web presences elsewhere. If the resources you’re offering in the forum are good enough, chances are people who are active in that space will spread them via their other channels on the web.
- Submit your top posts to key social media destinations. Make sure you’re submitting your top posts to places like StumbleUpon, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, etc. This will put your best work in front of many new eyeballs and often a portion of those who view your work will choose to link back directly to your post.
- Submit your website to relevant and legitimate directories. There are 1000s upon 1000s of directories and most are just terrible. Many were built in an era in which search engines afforded an undue amount of influence to these types of directories in determining how to rank websites. Nowadays, the only directories that are worth considering, in my opinion, are local directories (covered, in part, in #3) and niche directories. An example of a niche directory is a directory of car blogs or a directory of cooking websites. Basically, avoid any directory that looks “spammy” or is simply a collection of random links.
- Study what your competition is doing. Use Yahoo’s Site Explorer to see what types of backlinks are pointing to your competitors’ sites. Perhaps you can obtain some of the same kinds of backlinks.
Randall Davidson is the lead project manager for Audio Transcription, a transcription service that offers online transcription services. He often writes about small business topics on his company’s blog.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Randall for his guest post! These are some great tips to keep in mind when conducting your search engine optimization! If you are interested in writing a guest post to appear on the eMarketing & New Media Blog, feel free to send an email to me, Erica, so we can discuss a potential topic. Thanks again, Randall!