Is Your Website Getting the Links and Shares it Should be?

by Martin Malden

This post is part of a series on how to promote your website for free.

Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

Promote your site for free: on-site SEO for WordPress-based sites
Promote your site for free: forum marketing
Promote your site for free: social media marketing

Online search results. In the first of the series I looked at the basic on-site Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) steps you need to put in place on your WordPress-based website.

But, as I stressed towards the end of that post, you need to place your primary focus on the quality of your content, not the search engines.

High quality content is the foundation of good search results performance.

Traditionally, off-site SEO was about getting incoming links to your site – the more the better. These days, however, the search engines are increasingly using activity on the social networks to evaluate what others think of your site.

So, today I’ll take a look at a few things you can do to build your off-site SEO – what the Internet ‘thinks’ of your site.

Incoming links to your site

Again, off-site SEO is about what the Internet at large thinks of your site. Is it an Authority site..? Does it have good information..? Do people like it or find it useful..?

As I said, prior to the growth of the social media sites, off-site SEO was traditionally about the number of incoming links to your site. And while social sharing is a growing part of off-site SEO, links are still (and will remain) important.

But beware: there are links and there are links!

The search engines long ago learned to identify and reduce the value of reciprocal links, links from link farms, link networks and links secured simply for the purpose of having links.

You must have high quality, incoming links to figure well with the search engines. In other words, links from respected sites in the same or a related niche and, better still, links that have relevant anchor text.

This takes work. On-going work.

With on-site SEO you can get everything set up right and then let it run. You may need to make some tweaks or adjustments occasionally, but once it’s done, it’s basically done.

Off-site SEO, however, is a never-ending project.

Content may or may not be King, but it’s certainly important

So how do you go about getting good quality, incoming links to your site?

In the first place, by producing good content.

I make no apologies for labouring this point – it is the basis of everything and, without it, you won’t get quality links.

Here’s where two things become important:

  1. Selecting a topic for your site that you enjoy writing about, and that you can write about in detail
  2. The ability to write well

Despite the arrival of audio and video, which are both powerful media for webmasters to use, you still need to have good copywriting skills to get people to take that final conversion step: to click your link or opt in to your email list.

But, just as important, the search engines are constantly striving to improve their ability to present high quality sites in the search results. And high quality means sites that are well written, grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.

Yes – you read that right: the search engines are developing the ability to assess the quality of your writing and that will impact where your site shows up in the search results.

If you can’t write well, or don’t like writing, you’ll need to consider whether to hire a Ghost Writer or a Copywriter. However you do it, you’ll need to have well written content on your site.

The next step is to find a way of easily putting good quality content onto your site and you have a very useful tool for this:

A blog

Blogging: quality, not quantity

When I started blogging every bit of advice I saw included the exhortation to post something new every day ‘to keep the search engines happy’.

I still see that advice being bandied around today, but it’s awful advice: ignore it!

You’re far better off producing well-researched, well-written, well-structured articles once or twice a month than mass produced, shallow, filler articles every day.

People want quality information, so give it to them.

The exception to this is, of course, a news site. If you’re running one of these then you do need to be updating it frequently, possibly several times a day depending on what stories you’re covering.

Commenting and guest posting

Commenting

Two great ways to get links from good quality sites are to follow blogs, for which I use either an RSS reader or, increasingly, email updates.

As you follow and get to know the blogger and other regular readers you can start adding comments to articles they write.

As usual, go for quality. Don’t trot out meaningless comments just to get a link – many bloggers don’t approve these types of comments (I don’t) so your effort, small though it is, will have been wasted.

Comment when an article grabs you and you have something worthwhile to add. A good, insightful comment will be approved and will attract readers to your site.

And, of course, it’s a link.

A WealthyDragon top tip: use the URL field (when filling in your details) to add a link to a relevant article on your site rather than your home page.

If the article is relevant to the one you’re commenting on your chances of provoking some reciprocal comments on your site are improved instantly!

All that said, my experience has been that people comment less on blogs now than they used to, because they’re moving the conversation to the social media sites.

It’s a shame, but at least when you’re making thoughtful comments on other blogs and using the URL field to link to a specific article on your site, you are slowly building links from good quality, relevant websites.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is another way of building links from sites that you know and respect.

In principle, a Guest Post is just a longer form of commenting and, again, you should try to link (in the author bio box) to relevant articles on your site, rather than the home page.

Just as a good comment will attract readers, so will a good guest post.

As with commenting, a good strategy for guest posting is to follow the blog, get to know the types of articles it publishes and pitch something that will fit into the site’s subject area.

Most sites that accept guest posts will have a guest posting guidelines page. Making sure you submit something that meets the guidelines will greatly improve the chances of your post being accepted!

Unwanted links

Sometimes incoming links to your site will come from sites that you’d rather not be associated with, but you have very little control over this.

Getting an unwanted link removed is difficult unless you’re able to contact the webmaster and they agree to your request. Since, many times, those links come from ‘auto-blogging’ sites contacting the webmaster is unlikely to be easy.

If you have so many unwanted links that Google has penalised your site, and you’ve attempted to remove them but cannot, Google’s advice is to submit your site for re-consideration, explain that you’ve unsuccessfully tried to remove the bad links and list the offending sites.

You do that through Google Webmaster Tools, which I referred to in the first article in this series.

The advantage of commenting and guest-posting is that you can control the sites that are linking to you, the articles on your site they’re linking to and the anchor text of the links.

That makes these links more valuable.

Social media sharing

Over the past couple of years the search engines have all started incorporating social media sharing of articles and sites in their ranking algorithms.

The effort people used to put into link building is now swinging towards the social networks and getting your content shared there

And here, again, you must focus on quality, not quantity.

Firstly, you need to identify the social network where your potential readers or customers hang out. Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Pinterest?

Wherever it is, join that network and mingle!

If your customers are on more than one network, choose one and stick with it. Don’t try to join and work every social network because you’ll be spreading yourself too thin and you won’t be able to deliver the quality of participation you need to.

You will have to promote your articles on your chosen social site in order for them to be shared, but do it selectively and promote at least as many items (videos, articles, audios) from other sites as you do your own.

When you link to your articles use the introduction area to explain who they would benefit and what the benefits would be, but do it in a low-key, factual way – don’t spam!

Finally, the objective is to get others to share your articles, so it’s worth asking people to share them if they like them.

I go into some more detail on social media marketing here.

Summary

OK – so the basis of getting high quality incoming links to your site and lots of social network shares is good content. I cannot emphasise that strongly enough.

Always go for quality, not quantity.

While links will always figure in the search engines’ ranking algorithms, the balance is changing as they incorporate social media sharing activity more and more.

So you need to constantly think about both.

Cheers,

Martin Malden.

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