Do not mess with me before my coffee.
All Hallow’s Eve is upon us. In that vein, let’s take a look at some SEO tactics with a Halloween twist. That makes this blog post dangerous – it’s topical. By November 1, it will be stale and you will probably stop reading about right…here. But I still have 6 to 7 day shelf life upon posting, so I am going to run with this anyways. The following is a list of treats (dos) and tricks (don’ts) to take into account when you are looking to optimize your traffic for search engine traffic.
Trick – Doorway Pages. You’ve seen them – pages that are optimized for loosely related keywords with the sole intention of directing you back to a different domain. Search engines hate them, once they have caught on. While you may get away with doorways and see a traffic spike for a bit, any gains generated are usually quickly lost in the high bounce and poor conversion rates that come from users who don’t like to be jerked around from site to site. Most people are clicking out as soon as they see the domain change. Your competitors are likely reporting you to Google as soon as they find out.
Treat – Optimizing your main domain for the most relevant keywords. Give the users what they want. Your site specializes in something, that’s why you built it. Make sure that the site is optimized for people who are looking in that specialty. I’ll bet bottom dollar that you are not ranking #1 for every key phrase related to your product. Win those phrases before you even think about venturing into unrelated terms.
Trick – Keyword stuffing to the Nth Degree. You’ve built your site and now you are ready to start optimizing for traffic. You’ve got a list of 250 keywords that you start stuffing into every title tag, meta description, alt tag, and content block you can find. I’m sorry, but that’s just not going to work. Not only are you going to (likely) hurt the user experience through over-stuffing, but you are also going dilute the value of your core keywords to the search engines. Optimizing for everything will have similar results to optimizing for nothing.
Treat – Focusing on a handful of phrases that are specific to the pages you are pushing. Go after a few highly relevant, high volume keywords and push hard for them. I have seen sites that are optimized for less than 10 key phrases perform very well. Focus on who you are and where your strengths lie.
Trick – Spamming Forums/Blogs. Simply put: it’s annoying, it will get you banned from those sites, and it doesn’t work long term.
Treat – Finding discussion boards and posts where your link is actually relevant. Not only will this give you more credibility with search engines when a link comes from a relevant site, but it also has the possibility of generating legitimate traffic in the forms of referrals from that site since you are already dealing with an interested audience.
Trick – Link Exchanges. Run any website long enough and you will get requests for link exchanges. Trust me, when somebody asks you for a link exchange, they almost always will be getting more than they are giving.
Treat – Linking in and linking out where appropriate. The best link building occurs when you find a site that represents your website’s message and you actually converse with the webmaster to get your link posted. Do not offer them an exchange, just show them how a link to your site adds credibility to the page you would like to get linked from. Likewise, when you have content that would be improved by an external authority, go ahead and link out to them. Just don’t forget to use the target=_blank to make sure that the user doesn’t forget about you.
Trick – Article Spinning. For those who don’t know, article spinning is a way of coding a written article so that different synonyms appear every 3-5 words, then sending off numerous copies of the same article. Due to the various combinations of synonyms appear, it makes it very hard for any software to see the article as a duplicated. It also tends to come across as just a bit strange to the user since the words do not flow as well as they typically would in regular article. You may see a short term bump gained from the abundance of “unique” links produced, but because of the awkwardness of the articles, none of these links are likely to survive long term and your rankings will eventually fall back to previous levels.
Treat – Writing good solid content that is actually of value to the reader. I am actually not against the use of free article submission sites. But, if you choose to go that route, do put some effort into your articles and make sure they are more than just link spam. That’s the only way you will gain any syndication links from those sites, which is where you will experience the best SEO bumps.
Trick – Building a website that immediately opens with loud music and bright flashy images just to draw attention.
Treat – There isn’t one. Just don’t do that.
Follow the “treats” and you’ll get candy (traffic and conversions). Try too many of the “tricks” and your site will only be visited by ghosts…and maybe people who still search with Altavista.