I received this comment from a reader and it’s such a good question (one that I wrestled with for a long time before I figured it out) that I wanted to share the answer with all of you:
“If you wanted to put all the pieces of the IM puzzle together, what one source would you start with and why? I too have studied all and researched what marketers use such as Screencast for webinars, Infusion, Aweber, 1SC, WordPress, etc.
BUT what about all the pre-market research. I have never found any one of these guys by searching. It always came from a guy who promoted from the stage, who received my contact info, and then passed along to another marketer, etc….
Do you really know of a way to get organic free traffic through search engine or social media syndication?
We have yet to find a proveable source that can provide niche traffic organically.”
I love this question because it frustrated me for a long time too. And I also spent lots of moola on ‘experts’ and ‘internet marketing gurus’
However, I am pleased to say that I have indeed figured this out (it only took me 10 years!) and so I am most pleased to help others shorten their learning curve!
Of course, I cannot possibly cover every piece of this puzzle in one article. But I can tell you some crucial tweaks that can make a difference to your search engine rankings – and thus increase your website visitors – within a month or two of implementation.
If you go to my health site, you’ll see that it ranks very high in organic search results. Organic search results are the normal, natural listings that come up when you enter a keyword phrase into a search engine – i.e. not paid search results or ads. My health site will often show up on page 1 of Google for a specific search term related to my content – for example, here’s my site in the #2 position on page 1 (p.s. I updated this image 8 years after I first wrote this post and my site is holding steady on page 1 of Google for many search terms – even though competition has vastly increased):
At the time of writing, my most popular blog post on this site has 109,130 views and 673 comments. How did I do it? Well, like most things, it’s via a combination of things, but here’s an overview of the top actions that made a difference:
1. Get a WordPress blog going on your main site.
You can either switch your entire site to a WordPress site, or just install a WordPress blog as part of your website. In both cases, make sure your site and/or blog is hosted on your own server – do not host on wordpress.com or use their free hosting. And purchase hosting (I like to use GoDaddy) for a minimum of 2 years. This shows Google that you’re serious and you’re here for a while – they will give lower rankings to sites who only have 1 year of hosting purchased. If you are selling things directly from your site, then you need to also purchase an SSL certificate – again, if you don’t have one, Google will give you a lower ranking.
Next, set your WordPress blog up for automatic pinging. Here’s how to do that:
Go to Settings –> Writing
and in the section marked “Update Services” paste these into the box (right-click and Save As… to download this file)
and then click “Save Changes”
Also install the free WordPress plug-in All in One SEO Pack and make sure you fill out the fields for EVERY single blog post. Very annoying at first, until you get fluent in thinking up likely keywords, but this plug-in made a HUGE difference in search engines picking up my content.
If you don’t understand how to find keywords for your blog posts, it’s actually really simple. Just to make a list of what you would type into Google if you were looking for the information contained in your blog post! Honestly, it’s that easy. If you want to be thorough, then ask 2-3 friends what they would type into Google – those search words or phrases are the “keywords” you’ll then use to fill out the plug-in for each blog post.
Lastly, have the titling of your blog set up so that the URL for each post contains the actual title of your post (thus displaying the keywords) rather than random letters and number. For example, the URL for this post looks like this:
See how that’s more search engine friendly than (for example):
Search engines love blogs and with these things set up, they will really love your posts. I’m a bit miffed actually, as I spent 4 years establishing a forum with tens of thousands of posts (back when search engines liked forums) – which is now pretty worthless in terms of organic search results. But there you go, this is a dynamic environment and you have to keep shifting along with it.
2. Build content and drive as much traffic to your blog as you can
Now that you’ve got your blog set up and configured properly, it’s time to really build up your content on your blog. Don’t worry about posting every day – yes, it would be ideal if you could, but it’s not necessary to get good results. Once per week should be your minimum and whatever you can manage beyond that is great!
I know this is the main thing about blogs that puts people off. One of our Freedomites groaned whenever she even thought about getting a blog going. She doesn’t like writing and the thought of having to do it “regularly” made her shudder.
But there are lots of ways to get a substantial amount of content up on your blog without having to write much, and sometimes even by writing nothing. Here are some of those methods:
- Re-do content you’re currently sending out as reports, email autoresponders, etc. so that they’re sending people to your blog instead for the full report, info, video, or how-to (rather than giving it all in the email). This increases your search engine ranking as Google notices the increase in traffic (click-throughs) to your site.
- Format any past articles or content (old newsletters?) you already have as blog posts and get them up there – hire someone from Upwork.com to do this really fast and cheap.
- Then take those same articles and submit them to article websites (like ezinearticles.com or a niche service for your market like selfgrowth.com). Again, you can hire someone to do this very cheaply. Have your bio at the end of every article link to your main site/blog.
- Blog one paragraph about a video you want to share and then embed the video in the blog post.
- Blog one paragraph about someone else’s blog post you love, then quote 1 – 2 paragraphs of their post, and link to the author’s site to read the rest of the post. This does not violate any copyrights because you are quoting only 1-2 paragraphs and then you are crediting the author and linking directly to their website.
- Tell a story about something interesting, or funny, or helpful that happened to you today.
- Record your blog post as an audio MP3 file and then just write a 1 paragraph intro and post the audio on your blog
Note: When posting to your blog, make sure all hyperlinks to other websites open in a NEW window – so that people don’t lose your site when they click on a link (just click on any link in this blog post to see what I mean).
Also set up a Subscribe by Email opt-in box on your blog and then email subscribers every time you post to your blog (also email your newsletter list). Just give them a teaser, or an article summary in the email with a link to your blog to read the whole piece.
WHY am I telling you to drive all the traffic to your blog on your main site?? Because search engines LOVE blogs and the more visitors you get to your blog, the higher your ranking.
3. Get natural keywords throughout your site
If your site is programmed using html, PHP, etc. than make sure your html tags for each section of your site are set up to maximize your keywords on your site: title tags and meta tags. But don’t put in too many meta tag keywords or it will backfire – the search engines will assume you don’t have the actual content, and that you’re just trying to fool them. Stick with 4 or 5 keywords that best represent what you’re talking about in that section of your site and use those. Note: If you have a WordPress site, then you don’t need to worry about html tags – just ignore this entire paragraph!
Likewise, have your keywords appear as part of the text on your page – but only where they would naturally occur, otherwise, again, you’ll be penalized by the search engines for “keyword seeding”.
I set up a site for a friend’s business and we didn’t set up a blog (because he didn’t want to do any writing) but I did do the above keyword method for every page (in the html tags and in the site copy/text) and he’s since worked with numerous clients who just found him through organic search results – and he does ZERO marketing for this business cause he’s pretty busy with another business and referral clients. So, if you have a local business – so people are specifically searching for a service in their city – or some other specialized service with low competition, a website with no blog can still show up in search engine rankings. If you don’t meet those criteria, then there’s pretty much no way you’ll get any organic (natural, non-paid) search engine traffic without a good blog on the site.
4. Get some videos going about your information or how your products work
Again, videos will rank high in search results (less competition) and they will also get picked up and featured on other websites without you even knowing. I found YouTube to be the easiest to use and since being acquired by Google, the keywords are working even better on YouTube.
As you can see from my videos, these are very easy to do and you don’t need to do any slick production – they are very simple, but just give good info. And don’t worry, as time goes on you’ll get better, because you’ll get a better camera once you see how they benefit your business, and you’ll also get more fluent in your editing software (I use iMovie). Of course you’ll get better as a presenter and more comfortable. You can see the natural progression/improvement that takes place, from one of my first videos to a later one. But customers don’t care, expectations are really low for DIY videos and they really just want the information.
If your business is mostly to do with selling products – like lawnmowers for example – then just demo the products. Let people see what they sound like, look like – does it look like it’s heavy for the person to push (if you’ve got a super lightweight one then video a child or old person mowing the lawn), let them see what the lawn looks like after you’ve mowed half of it, etc.
I know, when it’s our own business/products, we’re so familiar with them, we’re almost bored. And it’s hard to imagine that people would want to watch you just pushing a lawnmower, or mixing up a shake – but they do!
Oh yes, and after you put your video up on YouTube – don’t forget to put it up on your blog too. Just copy and paste into the blog post whatever you wrote for your Video Description on YouTube, and then copy/paste the Embed Code and you’re done.
5. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.
Social media should be viewed primarily as a tool to drive people to your site – where they can sign up to your email list. In my Listen To Your Freedom program I give many examples of people who have hugely increased their Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter followers, yet seen negligible increase in sales.
Where you will make your money, is from your email list, so make sure that all your social media drive people to your website and your opt-in offer (sign-up box). If managed correctly – as a relationship-building tool, rather than a marketing tool – your email list will out-perform any of your social media.
Stuff posted as Hub Pages, Yahoo Answers and things like that have not made a difference for me – I think you would have to really get into these big-time to see a result. But even if they drive traffic to your site, if it isn’t your core, qualified traffic, then you’ll see an increase in visitors and possibly an increase in opt-ins, but you won’t see an increase in sales – even if you wait 6 months. This is what we experienced.
My SEO guy has made some tech changes to my sites, improved the xml sitemaps, made them WC3 compliant, improved meta tags and submitted lots of articles for me to article marketing sites (like Ezine) and that has made a difference by significantly increasing the number of opt-ins to my free content.
But never let an SEO ‘expert’ loose on your main site!! Even if they tell you they will only use ‘white hat’ practices, there is NO quick way to increase search engine rankings, so they will be relying on some tricks and shady practices. Once Google or Yahoo cotton on to the trick, all sites using them will be blacklisted. If you’re convinced someone else can deliver results, then give them a smaller site to test – do NOT give anyone access to your main revenue site until you have tested their practices.
As I mentioned above, the biggest increase in opt-ins and eventually sales (if you build the relationship!) will come from installing a WordPress blog with the recommended plug-in.
The Bottom Line:
There is no magic formula for achieving good organic search engine results – where someone types in what they’re looking for and your site pops up – and thank god there isn’t!
Personally, I’m really glad the search engines are continually looking for ways to thwart Internet Marketers, because when I do a Google search, I actually want to find the answers to my questions – I want GOOD information, or a place I can buy the product from a reputable site.
So, if you want to improve your organic search engine results, then just pretend to be your customer:
- What do you want to see, hear, read, etc.?
- What will answer your questions?
- What will make you think that this guy/product/consultant/service really knows what they’re talking about and is trustworthy?
And then provide that on your blog and in the pages of your site. It’s really that simple. And the longer you’ve been doing that, the more the search engines like you, because if your site’s been up for 5 or 10 years, it shows Google that you’re serious and that your info is reliable.
GOOD HONEST CONTENT = GOOD SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS
I hope that’s given you some good ideas and enough how-to so you can get going on implementation. When you’re ready to get serious about taking your existing business to the next level, come on over to Listen To Your Freedom!