Search Engine Land – Aaron Wall
What is the difference between an unremarkable no value add thin ecommerce site, and a top ranked site? In some industries the difference is simply site age. Sites that were around a few years ago had fewer competitors, so it was easier for them to rank. As they aged they got trusted more, and some of those top rankings lead to many self-reinforcing links.
If your site is brand new and you want to compete against established sites directly on their most important keywords then you need to be good at public relations, have a better brand strategy, or have some remarkable feature that makes people want to talk about you. Without conversation and links it is hard to pass up sites that have been accumulating links for years.
But what if you could roll back the clock, and quickly grab market leading positions? You can.
The easiest way is to buy an old site that is not well maintained, and then build it up. But if that is outside the scope of your budget or marketing strategy and you are trying to rank a new site the key is not to attack directly, but to attack indirectly.
Of course many of your product pages will contain keywords that are the same or similar to that which the competition is targeting, but the more obscure long tail words are going to be easier to rank for. Here are 7 strategies to help you get lucky with your ranking quickly:
Use the less popular version of a keyword. If most your competitors are targeting new york taxis but nobody is targeting newyork taxis then it is going to be easier to rank for that alternative version. And even if the alternate version only gets 5% or 10% the search volume of the related keyword, you are still going to pull in more traffic by ranking #1 for it than you would ranking #30 for the more popular version of the keyword.
Use many keyword modifiers. If you can’t rank for the core keywords then try to add some related keyword modifiers to the page title. Is credit cards too hard of a keyword? Then consider targeting a phrase like best credit cards.
Mix up your on page optimization. Rather than placing your keyword phrase all over the page consider mixing up how you use it. If the page title contains best credit cards consider using something like compare top credit card offers in the on page H1 header. Notice the change between plural and singular versions of the keywords. Popular CMS programs like WordPress have plug ins like the SEO Title tag plug in that make it quite easy to vary your page title and on page heading.
Go deeper than the competition is going. In some fields I have been lucky enough to find niche low volume keyword topics that bring in a couple searchers each day. The ongoing maintenance cost of this content has been negligible, but as an added bonus for ranking for these long long tail keywords is that some of the people who search for them are people who really care about those topics, and many of them link to our websites. And so my new sites start benefiting from the self reinforcing effects that older sites benefit from, even though it is still new.
Move away from the commercial keywords. If you stay within a small basket of well known commercial keywords it is hard to compete with strong competitors that have been targeting them for years. Niche how to content that solves a searcher’s problems is likely to build inbound links. These inbound links boost your domain authority and pass PageRank internally to other pages on your site, which is much of the general goal of many SEO linkbait projects…some pages are good at building inbound citations while other pages leverage that link authority and generate revenue.
Buy traffic. If you build high quality niche content and it does not rank as well as you would like it to then you need to actively market it. Mention it to a couple popular bloggers in your space and ask them what they think of it. Another option for instantly getting relevant traffic to featured content is to buy targeted ads. StumbleUpon sells category based traffic for 5 cents a visitor, but this traffic is nowhere near as potent as search traffic – many of these visitors come and go quickly. You can also buy pay per click traffic for your quality content. If you are buying it for commercial keywords the cost per click can be significant, but if you are trying to promote a quality non-commercial topic that is link worthy you can often get visitors from search and AdSense ads for less than 25 cents each. With the buying traffic to build links strategy, it can take hundreds of clicks to generate an inbound link, but when you consider how time consuming and expensive link building is, then $50 or $100 for a good link can be an outright bargain.
Aaron Wall is the author of SEO Book. He also works with Clientside SEM to help large corporate clients improve their search engine rankings. The 100% Organic column appears Thursdays at Search Engine Land.