The Basics of SEO Part 3
It's time to really start focusing on how your sites need to be setup. While we've walked through most of this stuff above, we'll go over more in-depth situations to help drill this knowledge in your head.
We're going to start your site off fresh. It's like planning a building and looking out at the flattened dirt at a distance. This is your site. Do you know what you want it to look like? Great, but we're not getting into that right now... you build it, we'll make sure people find you via the streets
First thing's first.
1. What is your site about?
2. Have you done your keyword research?
3. Have you figured out the structure of your site?
4. Will you be using a script or will you be hand coding this site with XHTML?
5. Do you know the Content you'll be using on the pages and the Keywords you'll be focusing on for those pages?
6. Have you taken a look at the competition? How tough are these keywords to rank for? (we'll be digging into Competitive Analysis shortly if you need help here)
These are just a few of the things you'll need to take into consideration before building a site. The good news is that this stuff gets very easy after you do it a few times. It's just like learning how to ride a bike, but a lot less painful if you fail!
What type of site are you building?
This is an important question because we want to figure out if we'll be doing some hand coding, using an HTML template or installing Wordpress or another script to use as our foundation for this website.
If you ask for my advice, I'll tell you 9 times out of 10 to go with Wordpress. it's just so much easier and you don't have to deal with HTML all day. While it's fun, it's time consuming and can kill a good mood for a project very fast.
Wordpress is search engine friendly, easy to install (especially if you have Fantastico installed on your cPanel installation!) and easy to keep updated. It uses a WYSIWYG editor that functions like Microsoft Word, so you'll find it easy to use. You will be able to customize the look and feel, along with functionality, with a few clicks of the mouse. The plugin system is outstanding and you can now update it within the control panel. No pain, all gain.
With all that being said, there are some HTML templates out there that are easy to edit if you know how to use HTML editors. These templates can be used for simple review sites and will do the job well.
When first starting out, I believe one should always build a review site first. Preferably a one product review site as shown in this thread.
These review sites are easy to build because you can focus on 1 product while learning how to build a site and campaign around that one product very quickly and efficiently.
Keep the Flashiness to yourself
Let's save the Flash and Funky stuff to the newbies, got it? Flash is awesome, I agree. But creating a full on site out of Flash makes it very difficult for the Search Engines to rank. Flash, Images, Applets, etc. are almost impossible for the engines to read, so how will they rank you? Backlinks can help, but they're not going to automatically put trust into a site they can't read. For all they know - you could have porn on your site while trying to rank for The Pope.
Make sure you use as much HTML and text as possible. We're looking for high rankings and conversions. The flashy stuff does not help us with either of those. Ever see a famous site use Traffic? Not unless they're running videos embedded in flash!
Your Domain name
If you've decided to start with a single product review site, I highly recommend finding a domain name that uses the product name along with the word "review" in it. If you wanted to build a review site about the Samsung UN55C7000, you'd find either:
SamsungUN55C7000.com or SamsungUN55C7000Review.com (or just UN55C7000.com if you can)
This is because the person who is searching for that product will most likely be searching for [productname] review.
If you were building a site based on multiple TV's, then that's a bit harder to help with. You could build a more authoritative type domain, like:
This way you can rank based on the product line/type/niche you wanted to dive into.
Of course, you can also buy a brandable domain if you want to be more diverse with your reviews, but for a first time site - that's a bit tough.
Your URL Structure
Your URL Structure needs to be planned out before building your content. Are you going to be using categories?
For instance, billssamsungreviews.com/tv/UN55C7000-review
Or no categories?
This is VERY important to plan out now as you don't want to risk changing these URL's later...you can (and most likely will) lose your rankings if Google sees the URL's changing.
One important note is to keep your URL's as short as possible. Length isn't a huge issue, but we don't want the length to be out of control and unreadable.
Also, try using only 1 category. /tv/samsung/3d/UN55C7000-review is just too much. Google doesn't like it and neither should you. /tv/UN55C7000-review is fine!
Your Site Structure
I tend to think about how I'll structure my sites prior to building them. Will I use Wordpress and use it as a Blog-type site or will I use Wordpress and create static pages instead?
Will I show a Hero Shot (image of the product) at the top, use a banner or maybe just images of various stuff (hero shot included)?
How many articles will you use? I tend to use 3-5 for most sites, but if it's just a single product site I will break up the site to have 2-3 content pages, with the index page having the majority of pre-sell content. The other pages can be Terms and Conditions, Contact page, etc, etc.
The structure of your site is completely up to you. Look at your competition and see what they're doing. You might find plenty of ideas. Just don't completely rip them off!
Links, Trust and Content
Backlinks aka "links"
Links to your site is, by far, the most important part of SEO. Forget what others say and give it a try. You can pretty much build links with any anchor text and start ranking for just about any keyword, as long as you build tons of links with good quality PR.
Building links is what I consider a fun time at work. You will either love it or hate it, I don't know if there's anything in between to be honest. It's something that can be stressful, but challenging. It can take a creative mind or a lot of outsourcing to someone else.
When building links to your site you want to choose them wisely. Links from high PR sites are obviously the best choice for links, but getting sites from PR0 sites are absolutely fine. You want to really diversify your link building strategies.
Building links to higher quality sites vs. building links to thin affiliate sites (thin aff sites are sites with very few pages) is an entirely different world requiring entirely different strategies. With lower quality sites we have to go out and find links and build them manually, whereas higher quality sites will usually get links to them automatically (if they're worthy).
For instance, Facebook.com gets links to them when people send their friends a link their profile. Most sites that have a lot of traffic will build these links because they see them as being useful. Unfortunately, your clickbank ebook review site probably won't be very useful to the average person...or your wrinkle cream review site either. Sorry, they're not going to have a lot of people building any buzz about your affiliate site.
But, if you are building an Authority site that gives people a lot of information that is actually useful, you will notice a lot of links being sent your way. While it isn't quite automatic at first, it will eventually happen.
Back to our thin affiliate sites... these become problematic for most Affiliates. Some think that 'if you build it, they will come.' It worked in Field of Dreams, but it doesn't work online. Trust me. We have to go out and 'force' our way into getting links. We can use various tools to accomplish this, or we can pay someone else to do it for us (outsource). I use tools such as these:
These tools are my favorites. I use Sick Submitter to go out and build Profile links (profile links are what they sound like. You go sign up to a site and you use your profile or about me page to build links), Article submissions, Accounts for Blogs, etc. We'll get into these paid tools later, for now let's discuss why we have to use them.
For most affiliate sites, since we just want quick results, we will need for get links forcefully. We're not providing a bunch of great content. Heck, most of the content I see people using is either scraped or "spun" content, which is taking original content and replacing synonyms. It's not pretty in most cases if the person doesn't use good tools such as The Best Spinner (see the tools thread linked above). Since we're doing simple, thin, affiliate sites we'll go get our links at various forums. We do this by signing up, using our Profiles (after we're registered) and Signatures for that profile to do linking to our affiliate sites.
We need to get as many links as possible, as quickly as possible, so that we can start ranking for our keywords and get traffic immediately. With our thinner sites we can't spend much time on them as they're not going to be huge money makers...well, not many of them. It's a numbers game and we need to get as many thin sites out as possible, as quickly as possible.
I like to tell people that it's best to build a system such as:
Day 1: build SiteReview1.com - create content, get site up and write a few articles for submission to article directories (for backlinks). Build a few links.
Day 2: Build SiteReview2.com - do the same as above and then build more links to SiteReview1.com. DO NOT link your sites together. Google will see these and suspect that you're spamming -- and possibly wipe out all of your sites in one shot. Don't risk linking your sites together. We'll dig into this more later.
Day 3: Build SiteReview3.com - do the same above, build links to all sites.
You can also use 3 days a week to build as many sites as possible and then use 3-4 days to build the links to them after that.
Where do we get links from?
We get links from anywhere we can. Anything that gives us a profile after we register - we sign up and fill out our profiles. A great example of this would be to fill out your signature on any forum with a link to your site. It won't work here as Google can't see this forum (locked down, open only to paying members), but any public forum will work great.
Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook.com (and fan pages), MySpace.com, YouTube.com, WetPaint.com, etc. -- anywhere that allows you to register with them and fill out an about me page, create a blog, or add content anywhere that will be visible by Google's spiders will be great.
We can be tricky and find links to just about anywhere, but you'll just have to be creative. We want to focus on higher PageRank sites, but lower PageRank is fine, too.
While we're on the topic, we should discuss NoFollow links. These links were created to help stop so many spammers and help save PageRank within the site. Let's dig in a bit more.
Every website and web page can build PageRank with Google when links start pointing to those pages. But imagine the page being like a carton of milk. Imagine that carton of milk being 80% filled... let's call that a PageRank 6. Now imagine that carton of milk getting holes poked into it by a needle. These represent outbound links on that page. Each outbound link actually leaks PageRank, which means that the page is losing that PageRank 6 slowly, but surely.
So, how can we prevent these holes (outbound links) from destroying our reputation (PR) with Google? We use various tricks. The most known is using NoFollow links. Google claims to not give these links weight, but due to abuse by some Website owners - most people are realizing that NoFollow doesn't mean as much these days. Google will still follow them and, in my opinion, will still give them a bit of credit (juice, trust, whatever you want to call it). But Yahoo, Bing, etc. will do the same, so that's why we still want to get those NoFollow links, regardless of what you may hear.
We want to get as many links as we can and we want to spread the links around. We want to make sure our pages are setup for specific keywords and we want to build those pages for incoming links that are going to be targeted to them.
Here's a quick example.
But what we want to be sure to do is also link our inner pages together, too. We DO want to link our pages within our content. This is OK to do.
Remember that our inbound links (backlinks or "links" going to our site) are what really matters for getting higher rankings, with content and page titles being 2nd, although still very important.
We can also build links with Directories. The problem with these are most cost money or are a pain to get into. If your site isn't a long-term site making at least $300 a month, I wouldn't suggest adding it to any of the paid directories.
My favorite directory is http://botw.org ... that's because it's usually $99 or so (raised the price a bit I see), but the trust given by Google is tremendous.
Yahoo's directory costs $299 per year, same with Business.com's directory. These 2 are great for Authority sites, but definitely not worth it for most small affiliate sites.
DMOZ was an excellent resource at one point, but unfortunately it's dead at this point. Unless you know someone who works there - your submission will be ignored or denied.
Whatuseek is another paid directory, but I don't know if it's any good or not.
JoeAnt is a decent free directory, but I've had up and down results with getting in, even as a volunteer.
Article Directories are very solid for links. EzineArticles, Buzzle, GoArticles, etc. - there's a few out there that aren't mentioned, but that's only because I couldn't remember them. Using a submission service like iSnare.com is great for resubmitting those articles after they've been submitted to the important directories like Ezine (EZA).
You can use a product such as The Best Spinner to spin your articles and make them "original" and submit to secondary, less useful (lower quality) directories if you want.
NOTE: You only need a link or two from a domain. Getting 100 links from one site doesn't really help your site. 1 per IP address (domain) is good. Get it and move on.
Hopefully this section has given you a good understanding about building links and the importance of the links. If not, no worries... we'll be going over this stuff a little more - but you can also ask any questions you have, if they haven't already been asked yet (search on the forums if you're afraid to ask, which you shouldn't be!).
We're gone over trust quite a bit, but I just want to touch on it a bit more.
Trust is a major issue when building our websites. We want to make sure that we're not spammy, we're not lying and we have things in order.
1. Good content that isn't scraped and spun (although we do this for autoblogs...)
2. A good amount of links coming in, a few going out if we can.
3. No broken links (links that go to sites or pages that no longer exist, or just 'spin' to nowhere)
We can build trust by not going overboard. Do things where 'enough is enough.' This isn't a slot machine and you can't be overdoing things and expect to look trustworthy. There's always a limit and that limit is in your gut... you'll know when you've done too much or about to do too much.
Without trust we won't rank very high or be there for long if we do. PageRank and visitors are a sign of trust.
Content is king...so they say. Well, this is partially true. Maybe "every king needs his queen" is right? Maybe links are the queen to the king? Content is very important. Without it, we make no sales, we have no visitors and Google will eventually drop us from the SERPS. We won't last without content.
Content should be taken seriously. It should represent your site well, sell the product and do it's best to make sure it converts as many visitors into goals (subscribing to your list, RSS feed or simply Click Thru the link to the merchant page).
Our content should be 350-750 words per page, on average. You shouldn't have 3 pages with exactly 500 words of content...or even 502, 510, 523. This looks suspect to any Search Engine. Make sure all of your content is solid, but not the same size in words.
You also want to make sure you have a minimum of 3 pages on every site. 5 is best, but 3 is OK. If you have a site dedicated to a lot of product reviews, then you want to build a page for every product, as well as product vs. product, etc.
What if I only want to review one product, though?
That's fine. Build a review page, an about page, a technical page, maybe even pages on competitor products that you can try to sell if they're not quite sold on the other product? Don't get too caught up on ONE product, even if it is about one product. There's competition that you can make money from!
The more pages = the more traffic you'll get. This is because you'll have more pages ranking for more keywords.
Analyzing our competition is something that has to be done before beginning any website. This is a very important subject that sounds a lot harder than it actually is. The biggest issue and frustration is having to use various tools. Other than that, it's pretty easy to get a good understanding of how your competition is ranking high.
While there's no exact system for researching your competition, there's a lot of tools that can help you get a better understanding of where your competition is at and how they got there.
Market Samurai - this product is good for researching your competition, including the anchor text that they're using, which gives you a good indicator of what they're trying to rank for. While the cost is high, they sometimes have a free trial to use. I highly recommend the program for those of you who are building a lot of sites - but NOT if it's too much for your budget. You can still do everything it does, it's just a bit more time consuming.
SEO SpyGlass - this product is the best (in my opinion) to find out how many links you or your competition has. While there's no tool that's going to be extremely accurate (or even almost), this is probably the closest to that. It's a little much for those who aren't too sure of SEO yet. But once you start digging in and making money, buy it and reap the rewards.
SEOMoz Tools - they have some great tools, but their price has gone up a bit since the beginning. I wouldn't recommend them to just anyone at this point, but for those who are serious - you can't lose. As a matter of fact, there's so many useful tools that it really makes the other tools look like toys... except the yearly price compared to the desktop tools listed above.
I like to use Market Samurai to get a basic overview of the competition. You can see the amount of links (estimate), the age of the domain, whether they are listed in directories, etc.
Here's how I judge the competition quickly in Market Samurai:
New Project -> Main Keyword -> Panasonic Plasma TV (my keyword)
The next page will give you a bunch of links. Go to the SEO Competition link.
I check everything and hit GENERATE RESULTS.
This will take a bit to start generating results for you. You'll notice it shows 10 results for you. This is exactly what we want, the top 10. Our main goal is to crack into the top 10, so it's good to see our competition.
Now, this doesn't mean we need to worry about the top 10 results, though... this means we get to see them, but we can dig in and learn about the top 3, which is our main goal of where we want to end up.
Notice the highlighted area. We want to really focus on the top 3 while taking a quick glance at the next 7. These are what matter.
We can see that the top 4 results are actually Panasonic.com. Whoops! We're not going to really try to go against them (would be far too troublesome to beat them), but we'll still look at the top 3.
Result #1: DA - Domain age is 14 years. Wow, that's an oldie!
PR 6 (not bad)
IC (Index Count): 76,000+! (That's a lot)
(BLP) Page Backlinks: there's 1,071 backlinks coming into this exact page. That's a whole lotta links!
BLD (Backlinks to Domain): 108,000+
You can see that the site is aged very well (14 years is a long time), it has 76,000+ pages indexed in Google which means that Google trusts it quite a bit and it gets tons of traffic, I'm sure.
We can also see that there's 1,071 backlinks to that one page. These are most likely all legitimate, good quality links, too. That's showing Google that they CAN trust them. People obviously trust them enough to link to them, so Google likes that.
The backlinks to the domain alone is awesome. 108,000 links to the domain means a lot of people are linking to Panasonic
What does this all mean? Well, it means that we do NOT want to even attempt ranking #1 for the keyword "panasonic plasma tv".
Let's take a quick look at acai berries. This will be interesting with all of the issues with the FTC against Spammy Affiliates.
You can see that the first 4 are taken over by big time Authoritative Websites. WebMD, Wikipedia, Google and MSN.com. Pretty interesting!
But...wait, what's this? Buzzle.com at #5? That's an article, my friend! This means that the author is most likely linking to a Weight Loss product and probably making a few bucks from it. That could be you!
From the data, it claims there's 13,000 links going to that page. I highly doubt this data is anywhere close to accurate in Google's eyes. If it is, then it's spam. This article I'm looking at isn't anything of high quality and goes to a [girlsname]WeightLoss.com, which was notorious for flogging.
I believe that you could take over that spot if you wanted it. How about the next listing? Another article! It's actually beating out an article by Oprah.com, too. That's pretty cool.
This page shows over 3,000 backlinks to the page, which again is not correct data. But notice the listing below Oprah? It has 2 backlinks to the page, but over 5,000 to the domain. In my honest opinion, I believe what happened here is it got listed for the 5,000 links and they most likely sent a ton of links to the domain and Google relisted it for the inner page, rather than the domain. Looking a bit more we can see that this site is actually pretty old, so it may be legit. We'll continue on.
The next listing is another article from EZA with 150 links. This should be easy to beat out, probably pretty quickly.
Let's take a look at how we can dig deeper into our analysis. Notice the highlighted drop down arrow with the black arrow pointing at it. You can click that and see the new stuff appear with links and even PR analysis and Anchor Text analysis.
The data you can look at here can really help you get a better understanding of where your competitors links are coming from. This helps you literally COPY their campaign and beat them at their own game! Pretty cool, right? Of course it is!
Now let's dig into the PR Analysis and see what type of links this person is getting to this EZA Article.
Notice that he only has a few PR2 and PR1 sites. 17 of the PageRank links are 1 and 2...the rest are PageRank 0!
Easy to beat. You can even do Anchor Text Analysis and see the keywords he/she is using.
See all of the data you get back? Very interesting. Lots of keyword diversity in these anchor links.
As you can see, Market Samurai can get you some good data. Of course, there's other tools out there that can help you with this. You'll notice new tutorials popping up for these tools, but for now I'll link to some of the free tools.
Competitive Analysis Tools (Free and Paid)
https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ -- Good tool for finding out how many links your competitors have. Market Samurai uses this data in their program! The bad thing is that some of the data is starting to become a little "funky" and not very accurate. Another bad thing is that by the time some of you read this, the tool will be gone.
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal -- Google's Keyword Tool is great for keyword research and analyzing the competition for those keywords. You can get up to 800 results, rather than 100, if you have an Adwords account ($5.00 to start one).
http://www.seoquake.com/ - SEO Quake is a great little plugin for Firefox. It's free and it works great for doing basic analysis.
More will be added to this section and some will be deleted as time goes on.
Just remember that you're looking for the following:
1. Top 10 results is where you want to be in.
2. End result should be top 3!
3. Check out the top 10 quickly, but do a decent job at analyzing the top 3 competitors.
4. Domain Age, Backlinks to the Page, Backlinks to the Domain, PageRank, and even indexed pages are good indicators of the level of competition.
5. If the Keyword is worth anywhere in the top 10, go for it. There's ALWAYS room in the first 10 results!
Other aspects of Optimizing for Search
We won't be getting too involved in this stuff, but other areas of search are Optimizing for Images, Local Search Engine Optimization (great for offline/local businesses!), Paid Listings (PPC) and various other verticals such as News, Videos and Travel. There's a lot of ways you can crack into Top 10 listings on Google, but there's a lot of things to keep in mind.
The main one is: IS IT WORTH IT?
Is it worth your time, money and effort to get into that position?
If it makes you money, then yes. As long as it makes enough money.
Local SEO is hot right now. While it's beyond the scope of this module, I do believe a lot of members can make some good money by doing Local SEO for offline Businesses. Soon it will be a cut throat industry, so get in while you can if you want some decent extra money!
When you do a search in Google you'll notice the Paid Listings/Sponsored Results. These are ads that you can be a part of if you would like. You can do this by signing up for an account with Google AdWords. Again, it's beyond the scope of this module, but please see our PPC Training to learn more!
Video Marketing is an excellent way to get traffic for some people and you can get into Google's SERPS by optimizing your Video(s) for specific Keywords. We'll get into this in a separate Tutorial later, but it's something you may want to at least try out one time.
Ahh, Analytics! How would you ever figure out if you had traffic or what pages are bringing in the most traffic without Analytics?
There's a lot of solutions out there for Analytics, but here's the best:
GetClicky - Currently my favorite service as it's cheap and super simple, yet very powerful.
Woopra -- really cool service. You can even add a little chat box to chat with people as soon as they arrive on your site!
Lucky Orange - this is pretty awesome, and we use both it AND GetClicky on Galoor.com.
StatCounter- a lot of people use it, but I've never been a fan of it.
Piwik - this is self-hosted and I just found out (by a member of this site who uses Piwik) that they don't (as of this writing) obfuscate the URL where the site is hosted, so Search Engines pick up ALL sites using the code as being linked to by the URL where the tracking code resides. Footprints galore!
We want to choose the best solution and one solution I can say "stay away from" is Google Analytics. While it's one of the most powerful (and free like several above), it's possibly dangerous to use.
Also, I refuse to let Google get anymore data than I've already given them. They've already admitted that they save every search entered since 2000 or so. Let's work together to take that advantage away from them, shall we? Thanks.
I say dangerous because they can see everything going on with your site and if they believe you're "up to no good" or bringing in "low quality links", etc. - you will mysteriously slip into the darkness of the 1,000th page of the SERPS. Do yourself a favor and use products that aren't associated with Search Engines. You'll thank yourself for doing so later.
Our Analytics will give us indicators of what's good and bad about our site and content. If we have issues, we can resolve them quicker, we can duplicate our best efforts when we find them, we can build more links to specific pages, etc. It's a great way to go from newbie to Professional quickly and easily. The more you understand traffic, the more traffic you'll get, which means more money in your bank accounts!
So, what are the most important metrics of analytics? Well, that's not going to be the same in everyone's eyes, but here's some basics.
We want to see the Total Visits, Unique Visitors, Pageviews, Average PageViews, Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Conversion Rates, Goals (if tracking for them), etc.
Our Total visits tells us how many visits we're getting in a month, unless you start drilling down into days, weeks, or several months at a time. Most analytics packages will allow you to compare months or weeks. This is handy to see if traffic is falling so that you can figure out problems that may exist.
Unique Visitors are visitors who come back under the same IP address. This is important to note because it means that either a) your content is good or b) there may be a problem. Are your links working? Is your CTA (Call To Action) not working well? Check your links!
Page Views is how many views your pages (all) have gotten during that time frame.
Average page views is how many each visitor (unique) has visited per visit. If a user comes in with the IP address of 175.449.44.339 and visits 9 pages one day and 1 the next visit - this means she has produced 5 page views on average. 10 pages total x 2 visits = 5.
Time on Site is another important factor. Are they sticking around long enough? Are they sticking around TOO long? Could indicate a problem or it could indicate that your site rocks! Only you can figure this out from here.
Bounce rate is one of the most important factors. Especially for us Affiliates! The Bounce Rate tells us how many people (percentage of unique visitors) come into the site (on any 1 page) and then bounce (see ya!) out of the site without visiting another page. This is a bad thing is most of our traffic is bouncing. It could indicate that our CTA sucks or that we may have various other issues... maybe the traffic isn't very targeted?
Conversion Rates can only be collected if you set them up. The same goes with Goals. We won't get into them too much as they're very specific to each individual package.
Conversion Rate is the percentage of sales you get from the total traffic (unique, again) brought in. If you sold 1 product in 100 visitors, your CR is 1%.
Goals are setup in the Analytics program where you want to track each step of your Sales Funnel. If you wanted to track how many people clicked a link and landed at another page for Goal 1, you can do that. You can setup more Goals from there. They come in very handy for Product owners, but Affiliates can setup their own goals to see how their traffic flows throughout their site. It's quite difficult to grasp at first, but once you get it down it works great.
Getting traffic without data becomes wasted traffic. The more we know about our traffic, the more we can tweak our sites and pages to get higher conversion rates.
Trouble Shooting and Other Issues
There are a lot of things you might do wrong on your first few campaigns, so let's go over a few issues.
Bad Anchor Text
"click here" for anchor text. This is bad. Make sure you use your Keywords (that you produced from good Keyword Research) in your anchor text.
Make sure you use at least 3 different 'main' keywords that go to your front page.
anchor text choices from our research:
blue widget review
blue widgets reviews
Every page should have it's own set of anchor text to use for your links!
Make sure you choose one URL and stick with it! For instance, can you spot the difference here?
http://www.yourSite.com or http://yourSite.com/
One uses www. in front and the other one doesn't and also uses a forward slash.
Choose one format, preferably this one:
That way you don't make Google think you're sending traffic to two separate domains. Yes, they really are that foolish, still yet.
Speaking of bad URL's... always be sure to use a tool such as SEOMoz Pro or a free tool like XENU to make sure you don't have a bunc of broken URL's, 404 pages, etc.
If you want to use a category, use it/them. If not, don't. Changing your URL's after Google has already indexed them will look bad on you.
Do your best to brainstorm your site's structure BEFORE building the site and then stick with it.
I'm guilty of this. But make sure you create a 404 page and use it wisely. Having blank 404 error pages is not a good thing. Build your own custom pages and then put popular page links on it.
"Sorry, what you're looking for no longer exists, but how about these pages?"
Heck, maybe even have a banner ad below!
Nothing Stays the Same (How SEO proves that)
The Web is a crazy place. It's still in it's infancy (amazing, isn't it?) and so are the engines that run it. Google changes constantly and is always updating their algorithm's. You just have to stay updated with these changes and make the changes you need to make, mentally and physically.
With changes in time come new schemes to manipulate the results in Google for top rankings. Due to these tricks, Google has to constantly update their algorithm to make sure that they provide the highest of quality results pages and ads. Search is their bread and butter and without their Search Engine, Google's Billions will start to dissolve.
The company has hired some of the greatest minds in Science, Math, Programming, Engineering, etc. - just to make sure that their quality is better than the competition.
Over time you may start seeing yourself getting 'slapped' by Google in the SERPS. Trust me, we've all been there. This is simply the result of the changes in Google's algorithm.
Don't get too worried about these changes. Check the forums here, ask questions and pay attention to sites such as SEOMoz.org and Search Engine Watch. These sites can help you become aware of WHAT changes have occurred and how you can fix them. Now don't get me wrong, Google doesn't exactly say what they've changed, but these sites are run by SEO's who do many tests, live and breathe SEO and network with others. That's why they know first.
Top Rankings don't last. It's not like you will get a #1 position and stay there over the next few years. While it's possible, it's not probable. Be realistic and understand that rankings go up and down just like life! Nothing is perfect. You'll just have to roll with the punches.
I highly recommend outsourcing your SEO work if you feel that you just can't do it or have other projects to do. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so make sure that you always delegate your weaknesses to other people.
You can outsource anything from content to link building and even entire SEO makeovers if your site just isn't getting the results that you were hoping for.
There's a lot of great outsourcers out there that can do great work for you for dirt cheap. My favorite place to find these people are on the Wickedfire BST (Buy Sell Trade) forum:
As much as many dislike Wickedfire, the BST forum is a tremendous resource.
There's some rules to using services like these.
1. Never buy from someone with a 0 itrader (look under their username).
2. If they're brand new, ask them for a free review copy. Don't do these if there's no more left, just ask them if you're one of the first to get there. Normally you need to be a member with many posts or at least a known member. Don't get too upset if they don't pick you, this isn't kindergarten where the other kids didn't want to play with you, it will be ok
3. Read through the reviews for the service. Are they all positive? Has a Moderator used the service and reviewed it? If not, pass for now unless you can get your own review copy.
4. If they have a few positive reviews - check their join date and their iTrader reviews. 10+ is a good sign if they've been around for a while.
Most service providers will be legit, but there's always scammers that make their way from DigitalPoint forums and want to try to scam there, too.
Be careful of the types of services you purchase. Basic link building services are better than 10,000 links from a Xrumer blast to your main page. This is risky and not needed. Go over the Layered Links tutorial again if you're confused about how to link to your affiliate sites (NOT authority sites).
Content providers can be extremely difficult to deal with if you're not careful. A lot of these people will be legit and hand write your content, but there's those who want to charge you full price for terrible, mostly spun, articles. Don't pay for this junk unless it's what you signed up for. Then that's your problem to deal with.
Try to deal with good english speaking (or the language of choice) providers so that you get the highest quality for the price. $.01 per word is good for good content, with $.02-$.05 per word being good for GREAT content.
Real World SEO for Affiliates
So we've gone over a lot of differences between Search Engine Optimization and Real World SEO for Affiliates. Things like having to get links via Profiles for sites we register with, Articles, etc.
As Affiliates we have to be sneaky, creative and just downright gray hat at some points (white hat = good, black hat = evil...gray hat = in between). What you shouldn't risk on your Authority sites, you need to risk on thinner affiliate sites with little content. The more links the better!
On Page SEO should remain the same. Sometimes you'll want to use Scraped content and even Spun content. That's OK, just make sure to add in some of your own content, even within the other content (to make it appear more original). Create solid SEO pages with the proper titles, description, content, images, etc.
Once you get things setup on your site, it's time to work on a strategy for getting links.
You can open up tools such as SENuke or SickSubmitter and start building layered links, like in this tutorial here. Be sure that you do your best to only "sprinkle" links to your front page if you use Profile links. The best links are links from more quality sites.
Web 2.0 sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Wetpaint, MySpace, Wordpress.com, etc.
A good resource for Web 2.0 links is:
Scroll down a bit and look at the Web 2.0 link list. These are solid links that can help get you ranked higher.
Lower Quality links
Lower quality links are Profile links to sites like lesser known Web 2.0 sites, popular Forums and even Blog comments.
Lowest Quality links
Xrumer and other blasts like that.
I hope this SEO Tutorial has helped explain Search Engine Optimization. If you have any questions, definitely ask them below and I will answer them as soon as I see them!
Also, if you do find this tutorial to be helpful, please feel free to share it using the Facebook or Twitter buttons at the top :)