When people talk about SEO, they are usually looking for the fastest way to see upward movement in the search engines. The funny thing about this is, SEO really is a long game. There are millions of sites on the internet, so anytime you make SEO tweaks on YOUR website, Google has to shuffle around thousands of others. This is a time consuming process, yet everyone is still constantly searching for a “quick-fix” solution that can rank their website in a matter of weeks.
Here are 3 SEO strategies that have probably the longest return on investment, but pay off in dividends if you put in the time. The great thing about these strategies is that they are proven to work, they’re free, and they create almost zero chance of penalization by Google.
Everyone is constantly recommending blogging as a way to improve your ranking. Want to rank your website? Blog. Blog, blog blog. Content is king. The truth is, this is a long-term strategy, and you won’t see any results unless you remain consistent in your blog updates for a good 3-4 months straight. Blogging DOES have an impact on your ranking, but if you are looking for a quick SEO boost, keep on moving. There are much quicker ways to reach spot #1 than writing a random article on your local brick-and-mortar business website that no one will likely ever read.
However, if you care about your website, your business, and want to have a very strong online presence, blogging is the way to go. It beefs up your website, it will portray your company as an authority in the industry, its great for conversions, and it has the added benefit of having a HUGE impact on your rankings in the long-run (when done correctly).
Here’s some tips to do it right:
- Be consistent. One blog post every 3 months isn’t going to have any impact. Update your blog once/week if you can. More, if its possible and it makes sense.
- Don’t expect a lot in the beginning. Its going to take time, but after 6 months of consistent blogging, your website will be 10X bigger than it is now, it will bring in new readers from keyword phrases you never even knew people searched, and Google will see your website as fresh and interesting.
- Don’t just rehash old information. I know its difficult, but try to be as original as you can. Write something that people will actually find useful or interesting. These are the kinds of articles that Google wants to rank.
- Post your blog articles to your social pages. Keep your social pages fresh, and keep your social followers engaged and returning back to your website. Show Google that people care about your site, by sharing it, visiting it often, and liking it. All these little things effect your ranking when you’re playing the long game.
- Internal linking. Remember to link your blog posts to each other, and to the main pages of your website occasionally. You want each post to be intertwined with other posts. You never want whats called an “orphaned” page – a page that links out to no other pages, and no other pages link to it.
2. Website Structure, Navigation, Design, and Layout
Its true that the look and feel of your website has no immediate impact on your Google rank. An ugly, outdated website from 1995 can rank just as easily as the most beautiful, modern, and expensive site out there. However, over time, having a user friendly, attractive website will attract more traffic and higher rankings. Here’s why:
- If your site is visually pleasing and easy to navigate, your visitors will naturally stay there longer. This tells Google that visitors really like your page, and it deserves a spot in the top results.
- They will click on more pages (lowering your bounce rate). Bounce rate has a direct impact on Google’s search results; if 100% of people click away from a given website within 2 seconds, Google will start to learn that those people didn’t find that result useful. In order to provide the best results for its users, Google will remove these results from their search results, and boost other sites that have a lower bounce rate and higher engagement.
- A memorable website will create return visitors. Google also tracks the amount of return visitors to your site. If lots of people tend to come back again and again, this is a sign that your website is useful to others.
- An attractive website will also naturally produce a higher conversion rate, because people tend to have more respect and trust in a website that looks professional and clean, versus a site that is outdated and/or clunky.
3. White Hat Link Building
White hat link building works, but it takes a TON of time and even more effort. This includes broken link building, link outreach, offline link building, and manual link building. Let’s talk a little about each one:
- Broken link building: This is where you find blogs related to the site you want to rank, and then scan them (using a free tool like ____) for broken links. Broken links are links that were once quality sites, but have since expired or been moved. Find out what kind of information the author was attempting to link to, and then create that resource on your own site. Now, email the author of the broken link site and point out the link that has expired or no longer exists, and suggest that they now link to the resource on your site. Many bloggers will respond positively to this and add in your link. I would say the success rate with this method is about 3 out of 10.
- Link Outreach: This is a technique that is dependent on your ability to make real connections (or schmooze) with other bloggers. You can talk up your site, talk up their site (flattery), or point out any other reason why you think the website you want a link from would benefit from a link to your site. I can’t bring myself to flat out ask anyone for links, but this method can work for some people.
- Offline Link Building: This is a very powerful technique, but requires a high level of commitment. To do this, you (or your business) must participate in off-line, real world events. Some examples are school fundraisers, 5k runs, conventions, charity events. Anything where you can become a sponsor or speaker. Many of these organizations will then add a page on their website promoting the event, and the page will likely include a link to all the sponsors/speakers in attendance. When the event is over, the link usually stays.
- Manual Link Building: This is where you go out and create your own links. The best links are the ones wrapped in industry relevant content, so first you will want to write about 500 words of content relevant to your site (the more the better). Then, you will need to find a place to post this content along with your website’s link. There are many free places to do this, like tumblr, wordpress, blogspot, etc. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even create your own, secondary website on a brand new domain, and then link to your main website from it. The benefit of these links is, since you are not depending on anyone else to link to your site, you can literally create as many as you like (or have the time for).
If you’re in it for the long haul, these strategies will rank you at the top of Google and you’re likely to stay there for good. Your competition won’t be able to figure out how you got there, and they will go insane with frustration trying to outrank you. Thats because these strategies are super powerful, they build incredible authority in Google’s eyes, and they’re nearly impossible to compete against using quick-ranking strategies and paid links.
Another thing is, all 3 strategies mentioned above are free to implement on your website right now. All it takes is time, consistency, and dedication. Slowly but surely, you will build up authority, respect, social buzz, and real link connections that are more valuable than any link created specifically for SEO purposes.
But How Can I Rank the Fastest?
Lots of people who contact us are looking for a quicker option to high Google rankings, because waiting 6+ months seems like too long for a return on their investment. Unfortunately, there really is no technique that can rank you overnight. However, in contrast to the above strategies, here are the 3 SEO techniques that can rank you in Google the absolute fastest:
- Purchased links. These are links you buy from high-quality websites that give your website a HUGE boost in the search results. Its also highly “frowned-upon” and very much against Google’s terms. However, more than anything else, this technique has the fastest and largest impact on your rank. Turn around time for rank improvement after buying a high quality link is 2-3 days. This technique is risky because it can completely remove your site from Google forever if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- 301 Redirects. Also very frowned-upon by Google, this technique is unbelievably quick and can yield amazing results. All you do is get your hands on a very respected, authority domain (easier said than done). Now, use your registrar to 301 this domain to the URL you want to rank in Google. Wait 2-4 days, and, voila! Rank boost! This technique is almost guaranteed to get your website penalized by Google if not used properly.
- On-Page SEO. Many people over look this, but correcting your on-page SEO can have an ENORMOUS impact on your rank, and it happens almost overnight. If you’re not ranking for a key phrase you want to rank, check the density of those keywords on your page. The keywords you want to rank for should have a 2-4% density on the page. Tweaking your meta title and meta description will give you a boost as well. You can check your keyword density and meta tags free here: http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/
In my experience, its best not to rely on any one ranking strategy, or you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. For example, on-page SEO will only get you so far; it will likely not get you past the bottom of the 1st page, if that. Paid links have their place as well because they add extreme authority and power to your site, but they should never be used alone. Consistent blogging and content updates make it much easier to rank by beefing up your site’s authority and trust, thus requiring less links overall to produce the same positive results.