Since Google still dominates the search engine market, it’s most important that your website fares well in google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Most people who understand at least a little bit about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) know that one of the biggest factors in how Google ranks sites (and individual pages) is by how many inbound links they get from other sites. Ideally those links should be from sites that are directly relevant to the topic of the destination site and the pages the links come from should have high page rank themselves.
There was a time when one could either buy links from other sites or do link exchanges. None of the two works for you these days. If Google detects that you buy links on other sites, you will get punished and demoted in SERPs, if you do link exchanges, you’re simply wasting your time since Google has been ignoring those pages.
Most sites that produce useful content have no problems getting links from other sites, because there is always someone out there who’s interested in what you have to offer. This works especially well if your potential audience is big or even better huge, and ideally those people should be technically inclined so that they know how to link to your site (at least in their blog posts). So if your site is about nutrition, celebrities, politics, and other very popular topics as long as you produce unique and interesting content you will get those highly sought after inbound links.
Now what if your company does something very very technical and non-sexy that hardly anybody in the crowd of those who could link to you cares about? Let’s say you make light fixtures for commercial buildings or you provide concrete scanning services (these examples are based on industries for companies I consulted for recently). These topics aren’t not-sexy and I’d say even boring — why would anybody ever link to those sites. In that’s what those companies suffer from. Low page rank and tough time getting the attention of potential customers searching for those companies.
So what do you do? The solutions are relatively simple and don’t require much technical knowledge.
Think Out Of The Box
While your main product or service is not sexy, you can write about things that are interesting to the general crowd while still staying in the area of your expertise. For example if you’re in the light fixtures business, you can write about light. Topics could include:
- What light ruins our vision.
- What kind of lighting for home and work is most beneficial.
- How to deal with computer screen glare.
- How to keep the depression away in the short daylight during long winters using special lamps that generate sun-like light (and feed the body with vitamin D).
and the list could go on – in fact you probably know a lot more about topics in your industry that could be of interest to general crowd how is likely to appreciate your content and link to your site.
Based on the talk with the concrete scanning company, we discovered that this company has an expertise in treasure hunting. But they could also probably expand into handyman’s area giving advice to people looking to make improvements to their houses. And again there is probably a lot more – I know nothing about those industries – but you who knows the industry inside-out will have tons of ideas. Just don’t lock yourself in a box. Bring all of your employees in and have an open brainstorm on the whiteboard. Get every person to write things and have an editor polish the result. Think of wikipedia, provide useful content that others would want to read for years to come.
Put Your Manuals Online
The other idea that most companies haven’t thought of is putting their manuals and any paper work that could be useful online. Most of these sites have 2-3 pages of content, and another 2-3 pages that have close to zero content (“contact us”-like pages). Moreover those pages talk about their company, rather than talking about what a potential client might be looking for. The page titles include the name of their company, or some custom product names, and of course a potential customer can’t find those pages/sites because they don’t know those brand names exist and therefore they don’t search using those words. Instead they search using the keywords/phrases that they know about and the sites who want to get those customers need to know what those words are and match the content to them. But this is hard work, which requires advanced SEO/Internet Marketing skills.
A much easier approach is to load your site up with hundreds if not thousands of pages that will naturally cover all possible keywords/phrases potential clients are likely to search for. And one way to accomplish that easily is by simply looking at what materials you already have. For examples instructions and manuals you give to your clients, any literature you wrote, etc. – if you dig in your coffers – you probably have many things that could safely go online. I trust you practicing common sense and not putting sensitive information online. If you don’t have the digital versions, scan and OCR those documents (Abbyy’s FineReader or Nuance’s Omnipage are excellent at doing this kind of work)
The only requirement is that you make those materials into HTML pages. PDFs don’t work well, since if somebody links to the PDF file you can’t pass that page rank to the rest of your site. And you’d lose visitors, since they would simply download the PDF never visiting your site.
You also want to make sure that you don’t just dump huge documents into one file. Instead you want to split those into multiple files, each talking about just one topic or a sub-topic. Huge documents that talk about many topics in one page don’t fare well in SERPs.
Create Inbound Links
I have mentioned already that you shouldn’t buy or exchange links – it’d only cause damage or in the best case will result in a waste of time. But you could get other sites to link to you by giving them unique quality content which includes links to your site. A lot of high-profile bloggers out there are in a constant search of new high quality material to use in their blogs. Identify such bloggers (using technorati or similar blog ranking sites) in your industry or the topic you want to write about and email them articles that fits their blogging topic/style with links to your site and chances are very high that they will happily publish your materials and even ask for more.
The other approach is creating link bait pages, which typically include some content that’s very outstanding, but usually outrageous, social-bookmarking worthy. How do you find out what kind of content people like to vote high for – simply by going to social-bookmarking sites (digg.com, reddit.com, stumbleupon.com and alike) and checking what kind of articles are deemed popular and applying the same idea to your content. Granted you want to stay close to the topic of your industry, but as long as you think out of the box you can always find something that’s social-bookmarking-worthy and on-topic for your site.
To conclude, remember that at the end of the day it’s sites that provide useful information get most of the traffic. So don’t worry too much about how to appease to search engines, thinking about which words need to be bold, italic, keyword density, etc., but create content that visitors would get excited about, want to share with others and link to you. Google is trying to match users to the content they search for and it’ll constantly refine their algorithms to improve this process. The technical aspects will constantly change. Good quality content will work for your business for many years to come.
That’s not to say that you won’t get a lot of benefit from knowing more about technicalities of SEO – it’s just shouldn’t be the highest priority. Once you have a lot of useful content on your site, then you could go and learn more about SEO and polish things for an extra squeeze of traffic.