The biggest secret to making money online: TRAFFIC
After I got the site up and running, and had something for people to see, it was time to start working on getting traffic (visitors) to the site. I think this is where many new website owners fail. Simply creating a website and letting it sit there will not necessarily get you listed in Google, and it certainly wont get you to rank high when someone searches for something in Google or other search engines – you have to do some work!
I actually had to work to generate traffic
That’s right; work.. The “W” word.. Not ‘real’ work like digging ditches, but it took substantial time and effort to generate traffic to the site. These are some of the things I did to generate traffic to the site:
I Created a blog at Blogger.com:
I created a THIS blog originally as an SEO tool. I used the blog to write about general things related to the site, and included links from the blog to pages inside the site. For example: If I created a new page on the website about “cleaning widgets”, I would make a short blog post about how important cleaning your widgets is, with a link that says, “check our main site to read more about it”. Doing this makes links for search-engine spiders to follow into pages ‘deep’ in the website (instead of only to the main page), and it also makes what I call a “Google net” – giving Google (or other search engines) more keywords for people to hit on when searching – bringing them to the blog, which they will hopefully then follow to the main site. I also put other posts in the blog, not necessarily related to the website. This created more ‘stuff’ that people may hit on while searching for things in Google, bringing them to my blog – then hopefully taking them to the main site. I choose Blogger because Google owns it and I’m assuming it will ensure that all pages get listed in the search index. Today Google fully indexes new pages from my blog in as fast as 20 minutes.
I created one-way links from the blog to the site:
I did not link from my website back to the blog – I only linked from the blog to the website. I think that Google favors these “one-way links”.
I manually submitted the site to search engines:
MSN and Yahoo have ‘submit a page’ features. I also did a Google search on “submit your site” and submitted to a lot of other smaller search engines – but I was careful not to submit to any search engines that were ‘shady’ – like ones with gambling content, adult content, lots of popups, etc.
I read and learned about SEO
Search Engine Optimization:
There are entire books written on this subject, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a bit of a ‘black art’. Here are some of the things I learned and did:
I sent lots (many, many, manyyy) “Link requests” to other webmasters.
One of the ways Google decides who will rank well when showing search results is by how many incoming ‘links’ it has from other websites. These links count as a vote for your website. To get these links I searched for other websites with similar content as mine, checked the FAQ, or “contact” page and sent the owner a personalized email asking for them to link to my site. I worded my link-requests in a way that asked them to comment or give me feedback on my site if they decided not to give me a link – that way if they said ‘no’, I could at least get an idea why and make changes to the site if appropriate. I tried to send at least five link requests per day – and on average I got about one link for every 10-20 requests I sent. I can’t emphasize how important I think this step is, and I think it’s something that most website owners do not do, or don’t do enough.
I got many incoming links with good anchor text
I got a lot of one-way incoming links to the site (as stated above) – with good ‘anchor text’. Anchor text is what is written in the link itself. For example, a link such as http://www.mysite.com contains no anchor text, but a link to your website that says “how to clean widgets” will increase your search engine ranking when someone searches for “how to clean widgets”. To create a link with anchor text, you would use this html tag:
I created these links with specific anchor text from my blog, from comments in other blogs, and I specifically requested them when asking other webmasters for links. Now that I’ve been a webmaster for a while, and now that I’ve seen many of these requests sent to me, I can tell you to be careful about ‘explaining’ anchor-text to other webmasters. I think it is safe to assume that any webmaster with a popular website knows what anchor-text is… Don’t try to “teach” him or her unless they ask. I hate when people do this to me.
I invited visitors to link to my site from their blogs, Myspace pages, etc.
I put code on my page with good anchor text that visitors could copy and past into their web-pages, Myspace pages, etc. This got me a lot more incoming links with good anchor text – Mostly from people with Myspace pages. This did not get me a lot of traffic at first, and since the majority of these links are all from Myspace, I’m not sure how good it affects my Google rankings. I didn’t start doing this until my site was about 6 months old, and the site was already doing very well at that point – so I’m not sure this had a lot to do with how successful the site is, but every little bit helps I suppose. I do worry though, that Google may see all these links coming from Myspace and discount them as ‘spam’.
I posted in many related blogs
I visited many blogs related to the content of my site, or particular pages of the site and made posts, with links back to the website. Being careful that the posts weren’t just ‘Spam’. I also kept a close eye on Digg.com and made posts in blogs that were related to the site, that did not yet have a lot of ‘diggs’. Eventually, I got lucky and one of the blogs I posted in with a link to my site made it to the front page of Digg.com – resulting in a dramatic increase of traffic to my site.
A note about posting comments in blogs and forums: Many blogs/forums use the NoFollow (rel=”nofollow”) tag. This tag instructs search engine bots/spiders to not follow the link. Searching for blogs/forums that do not use the nofollow tag and posting comments with links to your site will help your SEO more than posting in blogs/forums that do use the NoFollow tag. You can easily see if a blog/forum/page uses the nofollow tag by opening the page in Internet Explorer or Firefox, and selecting “Source” or “View Page Source” from the View menu. If you see “rel=”nofollow” in other links on the page then that site is using ‘nofollow’. Don’t disregard these blogs/forums completely though, because humans will still follow those links!
I DIDN’T use forum signatures to spam my website:
I don’t think it’s a good idea to put a link to my site in a forum signature and then go posting all over. I think Google sees this as ‘spam’ and may penalize the site. Also, since virtually all forums use the “nofollow” tag, it will not help your search-engine rankings by counting as “link vote” for your site. Some ‘experts’ disagree with me on this, but this is MY eBook and I say it’s not a good idea. Recently I have added my blog URL (not my website url) to my DP Forums signature, and it generates a decent amount of traffic. As more and more people at DP see or read about the kind of traffic and earnings that I’ve been able to generate in such a short period of time it seems they are more willing to listen to (or read) what I have to say.. Funny how that works.. 🙂
I submitted a sitemap to Google:
Google will let you submit a “sitemap” at https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps
A sitemap is a listing of every page of your site, so that when Google starts indexing your site, it can find and get get every page into the search-engine index. A sitemap will not increase the speed that your site gets indexed by Google, but it will help to ensure that all your pages do eventually get indexed. Drupal has a “Google Sitemap” module that will automatically generate the sitemap for you. For more information on the Drupal Sitemap module that I use see the Drupal XML Sitemap page.
A quick note on Google indexing – even if you do everything right, it can take up to 1-2 months before you start showing up in Google’s search results. Other search engines like MSN and Yahoo are usually much faster, taking only days or weeks.
I did a lot of interlinking of pages
I found that Interlinking, or linking from one page of my website to another page, with specific anchor text helped increase my search engine results dramatically – When I first started the site this was more true with MSN search than Google, but recently the trend seems to have reversed itself and I see it helping more with Google search results. At the bottom of almost every page, I put a section to “related” pages with one or two links to other pages on my site – using good “anchor text” on every link.