If you are here looking for a secret way to attract thousands and thousands of followers, here is the bad news. There is no such secret. If you have been hooked on all the search engine optimization (SEO) tricks in the world and backlinks and all those techniques that brought people to web sites, you need to know that trip has come to an end.
Nevertheless, having property on the World Wide Web is a waste of time if no one comes to visit. You could build your site just for your own pleasure but it can be quite time consuming to go through the hassle of setting up a website and writing and adding photos and images if no one comes to visit.
One of the classic methods of getting visitors to a website was paying for traffic. And you can still do this but remember the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can go to a place like Fiverr and buy traffic but how interested are these people in your website? Will they stay and visit? Will they buy from you?
Where It Went Wrong
For a long time, pretty much the entire life of the internet, people were trying to create an online shopping experience that competed with others without any kind of guideline.
First of all, a lot of businesses thought that trying to look like they were big time would make them stand out from the crowd but the crowd just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Then the wise technical experts figured out how Google and the other big search engines worked. Kind of. And then they turned all their energy to finding ways to claw their way to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Great. They made it, or some of them did, to the front page of the big search engines. They didn’t bother with stuff like branding, product creation, and engaging their customers.
People did go to the website and were greeted by poorly written crap full of Adsense ads and no way to get off the page other than click on one of the ads. Or some variation of this kind of tomfoolery. One of the popular pieces of software was the spinner. This took an article, that was most likely poorly written to begin with, and spun it into hundred of other articles.
It would change the words in the article to synonyms. Here is a short example:
My dog ate my homework.
The hound consumed my work.
The bitch did eat my endeavors.
And this can go on for about a hundred iterations of the same sentence. However, the articles that emerge do not provide new information. They are just regurgitated from the original article and pale imitations of what might not have been the best article ever.
The big thing was that these sites were at the top of the list for the search terms that the enterprising entrepreneur uncovered. What was really frustrating for the end user, that’s you and me, out there searching for something is that we would put our search word or phrase in a search engine and get a bunch of nonsense instead of good information.
This may be a harsh generalization because a lot of entrepreneurs did have great information. And sometimes we could find that too. But those were lucky searches.
Some of these entrepreneurs just provided content and the SERPs took care of themselves.
This post is about getting tons of organic traffic and the notion of traffic has been so linked to SEO that you might be having a very hard time letting go of the old ways.
What makes this so difficult is that the new ways are unproven, or so we think. However, some websites have been using these organic methods and have skyrocketed to the top. Here is one example of a very plain website, Zen Habits: https://zenhabits.net that has a huge ranking in the web world. You can see how it is not a site designed to use SEO methods. The website owner has attracted organic traffic in a way that any entrepreneur can envy and copy.
I know it is just about impossible for many web owners to let go of SEO. It’s like an addiction, this business of finding the right keywords with the right rankings and the right competition. You may have invested in numerous pieces of software so you can search the search engines for the most common key words and phrases, competition, and high rankings so you can pick the perfect words to embed in your website so that the search engines can find you.
This is how it always worked. That was then. This is now. Maybe you are one of the many who want the new scheme for getting traffic. I suppose everyone wants a new blueprint. The good news is there is a blueprint. It’s not new but it does work. The bad news it, not many people liked the blueprint. More on that later.
A Word of Warning: Do Not Game the System
In many ways getting ahead on the internet has been a battle, a duel of wits. The search engines appeared with algorithms that allowed them to organize and index web pages all over the globe.
Then clever minds behind these web pages found out how they were being indexed and created false ways to get their sites noticed. Here is one that was actually used. Web masters would create a paragraph with all kinds of keywords stuffed in it, turn the font white and place it on a white page.Voila. Lots of words for the search engines that would draw traffic but this junky paragraph would not be visible to the web site visitors.
Sometimes the junk words were about sex and other such things that were (and are) extremely popular on the web but the page itself would not be about that topic at all. The idea apparently was that the person would come to visit the page wanting to read about sex but see the topic and be so enchanted they would stay.
The search engines changed their algorithm to get rid of crappy pages like this and the clever minds would up their ante with new tricks. You might think that you did not game the system but think about some of the courses and systems that were being sold. Like link wheels? Or how about link farms? This was when Google was trying to gauge good sites by the number of links they had.
The Google thinking was that if a lot of other sites liked your site, then it was judged well by the general public. The more incoming and outgoing links it had, the better it was. Link farms appeared and people played this game, until Google caught on and got rid of the linking power in their algorithm.
How about keyword stuffing – remember that? Marketers were told that if their websites contained a good number of keywords and phrases, then they would be rewarded with a good Google SERP ranking.
There is a whole new world out there and it is still possible to draw a huge crowd to your website. SEO does still exist but it’s not about technicalities like keyword stuffing and link farms that propel you to the top. It’s about being the best.
The Big G. Google. This is the icon of SERPs. You need to look beyond Google. There are many other search engines. Maybe they are not as powerful as Google. However, part of the blessing and curse of Google is that it set the standard and shaped so many web careers and then whipped the rug out from underneath you.
Many people who were harmed financially when the rules changed were not trying to game the system. They had laid out good cash for help in getting to the top and took the advice of the gurus as if it were holy writ.
They thought that what they were learning was the only way to get ahead. Service careers were made writing and spinning articles to fill the millions of pages. These people, web masters and writers, were hard working and trusting.
These were all playing the Google game. This is not to say that Google is bad. It’s just that the time has come to realize that Google is not the internet or the World Wide Web. It is a tool that is part of that whole system. A couple of the other big players are Yahoo and Bing.
One of the reasons that Google changed and caused such problems for so many sites is that too many sites relied entirely on the Google world. At the same time, the junky sites that wormed their way to the top harmed Google and people started shifting to other search engines.
The new blueprint we will be looking at shortly is not a Google-based blueprint. Let’s face it, Google is important. But our goal is to reach people not dance to a single changeable search engine.
Google has a mandate too and it is the same as ours. It wants all the web users to love it and use it. We want them all to come to our place on the web.
Put on Your White Hat
These techniques were and are referred to as black hat techniques. This is a reference to the battle going on out there in cyberspace. The bad guys wear the black hats and the good guys wear the white hats. So as hard as it might be to dump all those old pdf files you have stored on your hard drive and the software that tweaks and twists and digs out the secrets of the SERPs, you are better off refocusing your efforts at good, strong above-board methods for getting traffic.
Yes, you still need search engine rankings to get good steady traffic. And you don’t need that dreadful shock when you disappear completely from the search engines. However with the number of daily searches, just on Google alone, doubling in a year from one and a half billion to three billion, you really don’t need to worry about not getting traffic. You just need to worry about giving the searchers what they want.
Because the whole SERP game has changed, you need to find your way out of the jungle. For many of us who are focused on the message and not the technology, we like to pay for expert advice.
Before looking at the blueprint for getting great organic traffic for free, let’s look at what we should not do. In other words, how do we avoid getting ripped off by new experts who will just feed us the latest black hat techniques and bring our website crashing into oblivion?
Black Hat Advice to Avoid
Warning Sign Number One
Scarce Offer. If the offer is telling you to hurry and buy the system while it still works, then you know that the plan is not built for the long haul. It is a scheme that is contingent on you getting in before the search engines find this loophole and cover it.
Warning Sign Number Two
Faking It. Does the plan involve coming up with something that misdirects or misguides your end users. Anything build on less than honesty and integrity will come back to bite you.
Find out what other people are saying about the new advice. Check to see if the person promoting it, or reviewing it, is gaining from their advice. People have been known to out and out lie and definitely exaggerate to pry your money out of your pocket.
Remember that there are experts out there teaching writers how to write compelling web copy. Compelling web copy hints at solving your most crucial problems. It is geared to strike your brain at your center of want and bypass your common sense and cautious nature.
This is something that you might want to consider for your own use in your own selling endeavors. If you are trying to sell something online, you need to tap directly into your potential customers’ desire. So becoming aware of the selling power of a good sales page not only protects you from impulse buying, it lets you see how compelling good sales copy is.
However, let’s get back to the topic at hand. Your success on the internet.
Step One: Good Content
What was the point of search engines in the first place? It was to help people find relevant and accurate information online. In the old days, expertise was found in places like the Encyclopedia Britannica.
These tomes were written by experts in their respective fields. Now, you don’t have to compete with this level of expertise but you can zero in on your level of expertise.
Your site needs to have good, relevant content. This does not mean that it has to be Pulitzer Prize winning prose. But it should read well and be relevant to what your site is about. It should offer something to your reader that helps him or her with their problem or concern or passion.
It should be written for humans. The old way involved machines writing for robots and readers were bored with the stiff and unnatural text. You want the information to sound trustworthy. And ideally you want new and fresh information.
Here are a couple of scenarios.
Fancy colored diamonds are all the rage these days. Gemologists have developed new ways to create versions that are affordable for the average person – by treating less desirable diamonds. These less desirable diamonds are treated with irradiation followed by intense heat. This turns brown and yellowish diamonds into beautifully colored diamonds that you can afford. This produces stunning greens, blues, yellows, reds, purples and other colors. These colors are considered permanent, but there is a possibility they could change during repairs if a high heat is used.
Treatments like irradiation make it possible for more people to own these vividly colored diamonds. Most natural colored diamonds are rare and also extremely expensive. When shopping for colored diamonds you need to assume that any affordable fancy color diamond has been treated. Ask about the stones origin and request to view a lab certificate to verify authenticity.
Synthetic colored diamonds are another option if owning a colored diamond is something you desire but cannot quite afford. They are real diamonds, but they are created in a lab. Natural fancy color diamonds get their coloring from different trace elements present in the stones, such as nitrogen, which produces a yellow diamond. Diamonds can be colored by exposure to radiation during its creation. An example of a diamond affected by radiation is a Green diamond.
Another way that a natural colored diamond gets color is by its inclusions. Regarded as flaws and undesirable in a colorless diamond, inclusions give unique tones and brilliant flashes of color in a fancy color diamond. Remember that Natural fancy colored diamonds are very expensive, any colored diamond labeled to be sold as natural should be accompanied by a certificate from a respected grading lab.
A “fancy” diamond is a natural diamond that has color. These colors vary from red, green, purple, violet, orange, blue and pink – and most shades between. Fancy color shades vary from faint to intense. The most famous diamonds in the world are Color diamonds. The Tiffany Diamond, which is yellow and the Hope Diamond which is blue are colored diamonds. Color diamonds have an amazing financial track record. The value has never decreased on wholesale level in more than 30 years. Blue and pink diamonds have doubled every 5 years of a strong economy. In the 1970’s you could have bought a very high quality blue diamond for about 50K and today the very same stone would be worth between 2 and 3 million.
Drugstore Cigars: A Good Buy?
The sheer diversity of cigars can be confusing for new smokers. Many new smokers want to know: is it OK to buy cigars from their local drugstore or chain store? What is the quality of these cigars? Can you expect to get good flavor from these cigars? While of course, it’s perfectly OK to purchase these cigars, be aware that these packaged cigars are usually of poorer quality.
Most ‘drugstore’ cigars contain preservative or other non-tobacco ingredients. Common ingredients found in packaged cigars may include paper, Glycerin, and saltpeter. High quality cigars will contain only tobacco. Packaged drugstore cigars will generally contain these extra ingredients designed to keep them stored on the shelves for extended periods of time.
In order to get the best quality cigars, you will have to visit your local tobacconist. While many mail order businesses do carry good quality cigars, be aware that they usually will not sell singles, thus you will have to purchase whole boxes. Visiting your local tobacconist allows you to test different brands before settling on a box.
These are real example of articles that are for sale as part of a private label rights package. These are all right as far as articles go. For a little test, I checked “Visiting your local tobacconist allows you to test different brands before settling on a box” in a major search engine. Okay, I searched this exact phrase in Google and found 2,340 pages with this article on it.
From the article on diamonds, I tested this phrase “The Tiffany Diamond, which is yellow and the Hope Diamond which is blue are colored diamonds.” Guess how many pages I found on Google with that exact same line? 15,000. Fifteen thousand.
The writing in these articles is not stellar. It is adequate. There are a couple of grammatical errors. Example: Diamonds can be colored by exposure to radiation during its creation. “Diamonds” is a plural word but “its” is singular. It could be worse. It could be it’s instead of its.
Articles that are boilerplate do not inspire confidence. People can be forgiving about a few grammatical errors and a misspelling or two but the overall sense that you are an expert in this field can be harmed by writing that is not smooth. If it looks like you are too lazy to check your spelling, the reader might wonder about your ability to check your facts.
If the same article can be found in 15,000 other places, how can you stand out from the crowd? Your writing does not have to be perfect, but if it’s filled with mistakes you lose credibility. You don’t loose credibility. Loose is the opposite of tight.
Whew. You don’t have to be a perfect writer but you need to offer something special. Usually the special aspect of what you offer is you. Find something you love to talk about and make that the center of your online presence. If writing is painful for you, you do have options. You can use video but not everyone wants to take the time to listen to and watch a video. They are often in a rush and just want to scan the page for the information they want. You can hire someone to write for you.
Or you can just be you and explain that you are an expert in your topic and you know that your writing is not the best but you are doing the best you can do. In other words, you make it personal. You let the reader see you and get to know you and they will start coming to your site because they can see that you are a real person.
How Long Should Your Article Be?
There are two ways to look at this topic. We know that people want their information in bite-sized pieces. People are in a hurry and don’t always have time to sit down and read a great long chapter on a topic, even if that topic is near and dear to them.
On the other hand, if the blog post is too short, the reader might think, hah, this was a waste of my time to stop here. This isn’t much more than a sticky note. If you are just cranking out a quick paragraph for the sake of saying something, then people will catch on that you are just blowing smoke at them.
However, you can vary the length of your posts and have some short and some long. If the topic is something that needs a lot of explanation, you can pick an area and focus on that for a week or a month or even longer and keep writing about it.
Then main goal is to be as thorough as possible. If this is the overall goal, then you can write a short article about it from time to time. Suppose that your topic is skin care. You can have a serious of posts about acne. Then you can take each one of those posts and blow it up into a more in depth series of articles on each aspect. Then one day you read about a new study but you have not yet had a chance to read it and write about it. You could do a very short post like this:
Researchers at Harvard have a new study in the June edition of Harvard Research Journal. The researchers are both physicians and they spent five years studying the effect of lasers on the formation of acne. I haven’t had a chance to read the full study yet but wanted to let you know that this could be a new insight into an old problem.
If you are blogging everyday or every second day, this shows that you are on top of the subject. But if you blog once a month, people will lose interest in coming back to see if you have added an update.
Step Two: Be Personal
Let the reader get to know you. They want to trust you and believe you. Letting them see you as a real person is actually more important than being grammatically perfect. They don’t want to see you as a clone of a big site on the same topic.
They will think, why should I listen to this person when there is a bigger and better site covering the same topics. If you are a real person, they will be able to relate to you much better.
This can be difficult if you have been running a business where you are an affiliate for products in your field of interest and all your money and energy has been going into search engine optimization. This calls for a major shift in your entire approach to business online.
Your focus in on attracting a specific customer and all you do is with that customer in mind and how you can do the right optimization for that person. Think about the person reading your website and make sure you provide good content on a regular basis and believe it or not, the search engines will love you.
HINT: It makes it much easier if you can visualize your audience. Create a full profile of the person who will be reading your blog or website and write to that person. It helps if you figure out the demographics and then find a real person that you know who fits that demographic and write as if you are writing to that person.
This keeps you focused on writing real words for real people. If your site is about scrapbooking, you will need to show your passion. Brand yourself in a way that you can sustain. It is one thing to get people coming to your site, it is another thing to have them coming back for more. If your visitors come back for more, then you can count on them telling their friends about the site.
There is something that you need to think about and that is, just as in real life, not everyone will agree with you or even like you. You have to be prepared for some negativity. Don’t let it become the focus of your blog or your work or your life. Let it go.
Keep on being open and active on your website. Keep telling people about the latest and greatest in your niche and keep telling stories. People love stories.
Slowly Slowly Build Your Empire
You might be thinking that you are putting a lot of time and energy into one site but that is the secret to success here. The days of thin sites are over and the time for good entertaining and in depth focused sites are here to stay. Build your site as big as you can. Create a presence for yourself that is dynamic. Spread the word. Even if only 10 searches a month find you, it is a start.
The more comments you can get on your site, the better. Search engines trust comments that are real. If you have a WordPress site, you may have been surprised to see hundreds of comments show up overnight waiting for your approval and when you look at these comments, you see that they are fake.
They have links to their sites which are usually thin and often completely awful. And the comment is something like “I love what you said on your blog. I am bookmarking you”.
It might seems like a great idea to approve all these comments because it makes your site look like a happening place but the reality is, the search engines know about these spam comments and they will count against your site. What search engines like is the social media sharing that goes on with your site. If people can share your posts and articles with an easy button that lets your content reach Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the other big name social media sites, the search engines will love you.
Use Images, Videos and Infographics
Since we’re talking about social media sites, we have to think about Pinterest. And it is all about images. Take your own or buy images or find images that you can have rights to and use them. People are intimidated by huge blocks of text. A good image, high up on your web site will get you notice and set the stage for your site.
Infographics, or information graphics, are great. Don’t be fooled into thinking these are difficult. For many people, it is a lot easy to come up with a flow chart, chart, or some other such infographic than it is to write several paragraphs. Take the time to learn how to create these graphics and use them to illustrate points. People learn in different ways and if they can go to your web site and read your content, watch a video, see photos and check out a chart, they will likely feel that your site is pretty impressive.
Get a Good Technical Person
Maybe you can do this yourself. Maybe you outsource your web technical work and all you have to do it give them the details and let them take care of implementing what you want. Unless you are fairly technical yourself, this is the best thing to do.
You have enough to do to create the content without having to be a technician yourself. However, you need to be sure that you or someone you trust is checking for broken links on your site. Nothing turns off a visitor faster than links that go no where. Every now and then, a broken link can be forgiven but broken sites that are constantly part of your site will make people think you don’t care about your site.
Don’t waste a lot of valuable space on your website or blog with a great big header that pushes your content down to below the bottom of the computer screen. You have just a few seconds to catch their attention so you don’t want to have them take a quick look and think, ahh, I don’t want to scroll down to look at this.
And don’t over do the ads. Keep them in proportion to your content. If you have two inches of content and ten inches of ads, people will not be attracted.
So this is the blueprint:
1. Find something you will enjoy or at least be able to stand writing about for a long time.
2. Write about this topic. Add photos and videos.
3. Be lively and responsive. Comment frequently on your own blog or website and similar sites.
4. Use social media in a focused fashion.
5. Do not game the system.
Is that all there is?
There is more.
You need to fine-tune and optimize your site. You need to have the website ready for prime time and then start opening the traffic doors for free inbound traffic.
Stop bemoaning the loss of the old ways of tricking traffic to your site and look at some of the new ways. If you are used to banging together a bunch of sites with complicated domain names, it may be hard for you to change.
If the idea of writing paralyzes you, think about dictating your posts and articles and having them transcribed. You can also hire someone to write these for you but you have to be careful to make sure that the writing reflects your own personality. Set up a schedule for replying to comments and getting out there and sharing your thoughts on other sites in your field.
In the 1990s you could grab a domain name and hold it hostage for a company that needed that domain and then sell it for big bucks. This was a business model for a while but things changed.
In the first decade of the 21st century, you could become an affiliate marketer and use keywords and backlinks to get to the top of the heap. But those days are gone.
Now, just settle back and start building your brand online. Learn new things all the time about your niche and share that knowledge. Keep posting. Go back and update your earlier blogs. Make your website an exciting place to visit.
The traffic will just come to you, slowly at first and then more and more quickly. Given time and concerted effort, your website will succeed.