Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly nintey-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think links are important for SEO.
- roughly quoted from Douglas Adams
Are links dead?
Me just asking that might baffle you, but the thing is...
Links are unnecessary to attaining traffic.
Huh? I mean it. Every day, there are tens of millions of people visiting websites that are not linked to very well. The acquisition of traffic is not the same thing as link building. One need not build links to acquire traffic.
Just to be clear. Link are important, but so are other factors. For the purposes of this article, let's forget about link building.
Links are sorta losing their luster. Don't believe me? You already know it, but you may need an example.
One of the most universally known things in SEO actually illustrates this...
"In the beginning
the UniversePageRank was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."
- roughly quoted from Douglas Adams
PageRank is Google's measure of the importance of your links.
It is pretty normal to have a website with a PageRank of 5 or 6 or 7 to be not ranking for desired terms. Let me play Babelfish and translate this for you...
Google: "Hey you have great links, simply marvelous and juicy and strong links. Great job, I am going to give you a 7! On the scale of 1 to 10, you are a mighty 7, Congrats!"
You: "Can I rank for, like, the words on my page then?"
You: "Why not?"
Google: "Because your link strength isn't the only indication of your relevance."
You: "Then what the hell is, and why the $%#@ have I been working my ass off for links?"
Google: crickets chirp
but it should be said...
"It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with
- roughly quoted from Douglas Adams
Perspective rocks! Here are 6 scrumptious angles you may want to look at things from...
1) Websites are Not Useful, Until Proven Useful
- Google does not consider your new website to be useful. This is the beginning place where websites start at. No matter how incredible, no matter how innovative and wonderful and useful any website really is does not matter. Your website, whether it is a new website, or an old website that isn't ranking, is a steaming pile of crap until it is proven to be useful.
The essential issue to ranking is not links.
It is proving to Google that your website is relevant and useful for your terms.
Those are different things. If you do not see the difference you are screwed.
Okay, links are one major thing Google uses to judge your site, but there are dozens of other ways to illustrate your quality and relevance to Google.
Do not think "How can a get Google to know how wonderful my website is?
Do think "How can I show Google my website doesn't completely suck?"
The difference is important. Keep it simple, most of the ways to prove to Google your website doesn't suck require having people visiting and using your site. You might think that is inconvenient, and that your entire plan was to have search engines send you all your traffic. You can still achieve that goal, but most of you will need to get people to your website without search engines first. And yes, it is inconvenient.
2) If your website was not listed in any search engine, how would you get visitors?
- You want traffic, you need it, you go to bed with a goofy smile on your face dreaming of it. If you are thinking only of links and search engine rankings, then somewhere along your journey you stopped thinking about what you really want.
Visitors. You want people visiting your website.
People visiting your website and ranking well on a search engine are two different things.
People visiting - is your goal
Ranking well on a search - is your means to a goal
They are different things. If you do not think that distinction is important then you are screwed, because the best way to get Google to like your website is to get people to like your website.
Are you ready for a secret? Prepare yourself... I am about to explain the entire concept of social media for you in seven words. These seven words have been around a long, long time but they have only just recently been called "link baiting". The reason that link baiting is so successful, the reason it is hot and the reason it functions so well in attaining ranking in Google is because when you are link baiting, you are following the Google guideline that has for many years said simply...
"Make pages for users, not search engines"
Before you roll your eyes at that, think about it. What is link baiting? Link baiting is the creation of content that people will enjoy. We call it "link baiting" but it really is "people baiting". It is thinking about people, and what they will respond to. We tend to think that the benefit to link baiting is the links but what if, just bear with me a second... What if the benefit to link baiting is actually the people visiting your website? (you know... that goal you had)
An example of a linkless SEO strategy would be to create content that people will like and use and be pleasured by.
3) Reality should have an important place in your marketing strategy
Just for the heck of it, lets say that your web venture has not attained top page ranking for all your desired terms.
"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
- Douglas Adams
When determining the way you get traffic to your website, people often think "SEARCH ENGINES!"
Stop doing that. Reality does not support it.
Adam Lasnik of Google once gave an outstanding analogy in the Google webmaster help forum in response to someone complaining and asking (what else?)...
someone: "How else do I get inbound links????"
Adam Lasnik: "How do any businesses in the real world get noticed? Elbow grease. I
respectfully recommend that you take place in conversations around the
net that pertain to subjects addressed by your site. Write articles on
your site that are informative and thus garner links because people
find them to be interesting or useful.
Sure, you're not going to get links from competitors. But surely there
must be auxilliary offerings in this space... companies that make
something that goes with your product and doesn't compete with it? No
company, no subject is an island.
It may be slightly time consuming, it may be frustrating, but that's
also the case in the real world with new businesses; a new Chinese restaurant (especially here in San Francisco) does not get instant newspaper mentions or customer traffic just be existing. It has to do
something to stand out."
Use paid search, Use StumbleUpon, Use telephone calls, Use print ads, radio ads.
If you do not have the money to do that you will have to be innovative. You have to do something better, more notable, and just so gosh plain neato that you will be remarkable enough to attract people to your website.
If your plan is to make a website "perfectly optimized for search engines" so that it will rank high, then I am sorry to have to bo the one to tell you this, but that hasn't really worked too well for a few years now. Even in the cases where you can achieve some success via search engines, guess what? Your non Search engine traffic is still your best place to improve upon and doing so will naturally improve your search engine traffic.
4) Trends are important. Use them to decide what not to do.
Whenever you read something that seems like a sparkling and shiny great idea. Do something else, or find a way to implement the ideal in a different way.
Almost everything you have read about SEO has been read by others right? It has been implemented by others right? Ummm, that means something.
When my butt itches, my finger smells funny, that is a trend.
When everybody is buying links, everyone is also falsely inflating their importance. That is a trend too.
Buy links if you must to survive, but you know what else you should do? You should think to yourself... "If all my links lost their value, would I have any other way to prove to Google that my website doesn't suck?"
In other words, set yourself apart from others. Use great ideas and techniques in such a manner that will benefit you even if the idea or techinque ends up losing it's "magic".
5) Say You, Say Me - "You" is the new "Me"
Almost all SEO efforts used to be concentrated on your own webpage. Remember those days? They are gone.
The most successful sources of traffic, recognition, and yes, links is not search engines is it? It is social media.
Let's think about the thing that is common to all social media campaigns...
Improving and working on other peoples sites instead of our own.
If you want something to do well on Digg, what do you do? You have a power account, don't you? How do you get one? By doing things like making your profile meatier, interacting with other users, and spending time on Digg. All of those things Improve and work for Digg.
You is the new Me.
Want to get lots of juicy StumbleUpon traffic? Hmmm, well you need to spend time using it, and it is also highly recommended by most people who know what they are doing to link to your Stumbleupon pages to make them more important.
Once again, you is the new me.
Hey I want a video to show up in the Google universal results, like this one, which is about Video SEO in Google Universal results. Guess what? That link goes to Youtube, not me. I am improving and working on somebody elses website (youtube) for my own purposes.
(pssst - It is called interaction)
6) Be innovative, think from different perspectives
"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
- Douglas Adams
If you want to make money from the internet, you likely think you need a website.
You also may feel you need links to that website.
You are wrong.
Here is a way to think differently...
Google gadgets. Don't believe me? here are 3 ways to get traffic and money from Google gadgets.
There are hundreds of millions of Google gadget page views every day.
To make a Google gadget requires no website and no links to your gadget. Yet your gadget can create money, traffic, and links for you.