The Domain Name Association recently released a study commissioned from SEO company Web Traffic Advisors to examine the impact that domain choice may have on SEO. You can download the full report here, but we’ve highlighted some of the most interesting points as they relate to New Domains.
New Domain extensions and SEO: Here’s what we know
The debate about the impact that New Domains have on SEO has been hotly disputed over the past couple of years, but the evidence speaks for itself: More and more cases of New Domains organically reaching top search results are coming to our attention each day. Is this simply because they are a New Domain? No. Google has already said that New Domains are treated exactly the same way as traditional domains.
SEO has long been a puzzle that has very few concrete answers, so adding New Domains into the mix means even more mysteries about what algorithms are looking for and how websites are ranked. Here’s what know so far about New Domain extensions and their SEO impact.
There’s a lot going on with video right now. For one, it’s taken over the Internet. Just last Saturday Periscope turned the Pay-Per-View “Fight of the Century” into a free-for-all for anyone with a smart phone. Barely a year ago the Ice Bucket Challenge morphed everyone’s backyard into a set piece for fund raisers dousing themselves in cold water and, in turn, catapulted Facebook past YouTube in video views. Twitter offers video now, as does its offspring Vine, and we probably shouldn’t dismiss Snapchat and Facebook’s Instagram beast. Trying to tackle this trend is where your .VIDEO comes in.
KEYWORD DENSITY – IS THERE A DEFINITIVE PERCENTAGE?
Keywords have been the central facet of search engine optimization since Google first started delivering returns back in the late 1990s. In the beginning, the sheer number of times that a keyword appeared on a page determined where it showed up in the SERPs. As search engines evolved, the amount that keywords helped became a bit less important. Other factors were added into the search engines result equation. Today, there are over 200 individual metrics that are used by Google to determine a web page’s SERP ranking. And, even though Google’s representatives have tried to downplay the importance of keywords, it is still obvious that they are at the top of the metric list.
Google Weighs In
The real key is to understand how keywords are measured by Google. As Google’s search engine spiders were evolving, the programmers noted that some webmasters were finding new and innovative ways to incorporate keywords into their pages. Some of these methods included placing a huge list of keywords at the bottom of the page, putting “invisible text” (text that is the same color as the background) on the page, placing a list of keywords in the META description, stuffing keywords into picture descriptions and file names and various other ploys. The quality assurance team at Google felt that these tactics were nothing more than attempts to game the system without delivering high-quality content. This led to the decision to make keyword stuffing count against a site in the calculation of its rank. Thus, the new game became trying to figure out at exactly what percentage these penalties were going to be assessed. Google has stated that there is no one magic number, but rather that it depends on what the competition is doing. While this sounds good when it comes from the mouth of Matt Cuts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Rk4qgQdp2UA#!), it doesn’t really hold water under scrutiny.
Mr. Cutts asserts that there is no set keyword density number that will cause a penalty for a website even though the web spiders are computer programs that are unable to make arbitrary decisions. This means that they must have a set parameters to impose a penalty. Of course, if Mr. Cutts did give us a number, then every single website in the world would optimize every page to meet these new density numbers, and the purpose of the entire metric would be compromised. So we can’t blame Mr. Cutts for towing the company line and imploring us to create quality content and stop worrying about keyword density.
Sorry, Mr. Cutts, we just can’t do that. We’ll take your advice and load our pages with well written content that works keywords naturally into the flow, but we’ll still be trying to figure out the golden keyword ratio that is hidden in the bowels of the GoogleBot.
Experimentation is the Key
If we listen closely to what Matt Cutts says, he says there is “no one magic number.” Reading into this, it could mean that there are multiple magic numbers. These numbers could be different for different niches or different spider configurations. Maybe the keyword density percentage is compiled from different areas of the page. Perhaps, there is one penalty for a certain percentage of keywords in the Meta description and another totally different number for the percentage in the main text and then still another for the density in picture and alt tags.
The only honest way to determine how this system works is to experiment with a huge number of pages using multiple different keyword strategies. For most of us, this is simply impractical. A more plausible, and far more effective solution is to do this research for the keywords that you are trying to rank for. Look at the top ten page returns for your keyword in a Google search and then compare the keyword densities in each one. The results will give you a good idea of the density that will be required to reach page 1. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, check the next few pages and see if the densities change. This could give you a good idea of what is working and what isn’t.
What the Pros Are Saying
If you ask 100 different SEO experts what keyword density is working right now, you’ll get as many different answers, but they will be in the general range of 1% to 10%. The real telling thing is that most SEO professionals are steering away from keyword density in favor of creating more engaging, higher-quality content and using other Google “best practices” as the way to bring up SERPs.
We are still of the belief that you need to have the keyword in your text at least 2%-4% of the time or the search engine will never find you. You also need to have a much higher keyword density in your inbound links. This is really where keyword density is important. Google uses backlinks as an “objective” way of telling what a webpage is about. So if your inbound link keyword density is 20%, it’s going to get you ranked much higher than an inbound link percentage of 5%. It is unknown if there are penalties for an inbound link density that is too high, but Google has so many metrics that there is a good chance that there may be. It would be a good practice to shy away from an inbound link keyword density of above 35%. Again, check the sites that are ranking high in a Google SERP for your keyword and see what the link keyword percentage is on them. Here’s a tool that can be used to do just that. (http://www.webconfs.com/domain-stats.php)
After you have fully researched the competition, try to make some tweaks to your current pages and see what results you get. If your web rank doesn’t seem to be changing, reassess the conclusions you came to when analyzing your competitor’s sites. Keyword density may not be the part of your SEO that is the problem. You may have a quality issue, a problem with or lack of backlinks or perhaps your social media engagement simply isn’t nearly as complete as theirs. Just remember that keyword density, although it isn’t as strong as it used to be, is still a major factor in determining page rank and keeping the Google machine happy will help your rise above the competition.
Geo domains are awesome. They are domain names that cater to a specific geographic location, most commonly cities. They are great for SEO because users quite often search for things like “denver ethiopian restaurants” or “denver audi mechanics” on Google and other search engines. Search engines love exact match keywords in the domain name and geo domains offer a fairly easy way to have them. Now, if you know the exact city you want to target things are easy. You can simply register the domain DenverEthiopianRestaurants.com (available by the way), create some sweet content about the topic, and be done. But let’s say you want to target all major cities in a particular state, that’s where the Name.com Geo Domain Search Tool comes in. I’ll now show you how, with pictures.
Step 1: type your keywords into the search field
Step 2: choose your geo domain options
Here you can choose whether to append or prepend your keywords to the place name. Different keywords might look better one way or the other. Denver Roofing Companies, for instance, sounds better than Roofing Companies Denver. Likewise, Fishing In Denver might sound better than Denver Fishing. Those might not be the best examples but I think you get the idea. You can choose prepend or append based on how users most commonly search for the phrase you are targeting. You also need to select the TLD you want to search, the country, and state you want to pull cities from. You will notice other options in the Countries and States drop downs, feel free to play around with those. You can optionally enter a population range of cities you want us to pull. If you leave those blank we will simply pull the top 300 locations by population.
Step 3: click search and scroll down to the “Geo Domain Results” section
The first set of results you will see are the exact match keyword search results in our famous “Power Bar”. The next set will be the geo domain results themselves. Unfortunately, due to the way we perform domain checks the top 300 results by population will be in no particular order but they will be there. With each geo domain result we give you a link to perform a search on that term for all of the TLDs we offer, the population based on the most recent data we have (we admittedly need to update our database with new data), and of course the ability to add the domain to your cart. You should probably add them all, just sayin’. Based on the results for Colorado, one could completely corner the market for Ethiopian restaurant geo domain search results in the state 🙂
Step 4: go forth and be awesome
Now just buy the domains for the keywords you want to market in the cities you want to market to, create compelling and awesome content with some sweet SEO, and start getting some very specific location based traffic rolling into your site.
As always, let us know what you think and feel free to send us suggestions for how we could possibly improve the service.
Get Traffic to your site with these SEO Tips
Every search engine has a basic set of rules they use in determining how to rank your blog or website. Learn these rules and help the search engines find your content faster as well rank you higher because you are seen as valuable in terms of content for given keywords. This is all SEO. Wanna get started on learning these rules?
Actually, if you have been following this “get traffic” series, you already have a head start. We’ve been giving you social media tips, tips on engaging your audience, google service tips, and even a quick rundown of 20 methods to try for traffic. Use these methods combined and your already doing SEO, and naturally at that! However, let us give you a clearer perspective on those tips that actually yield SEO and how you can help those little search engine bots find your blog or website.
4 Basics of SEO to get right for traffic:
We introduced you to the methods on keyword research earlier. Google defines a keyword as: “An informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document”. Well if they define it that way – then it’s pretty darn important! Make use of these magical keywords in your post or website title, a few times throughout your content, and even in your images. Keep your images original (psssst – have you noticed I resorted to hand drawing mine?) and then title it including your keyword. You’ll be excited when searching the keyword later and see your website’s image in the image search results.
Remember, my goal is to give you easy tips to immediately try, ones that are FREE. Linking is basically having other blogs or sites link to you and, if you play fair, you’ll thank them by including a link back to them. Don’t forget these other ways of creating links back to your site: Social Media, Social Bookmarking Sites (Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg), and blog directories (Technorati, for example)
Remember, we’re talking FREE methods here, so buying links is not an option in this post. Besides, don’t you think the search engines are aware of this tactic? Be careful not to get ignored! Oh, and for those rogue sites that are linking to you – get help with the new Google Disavow Tool. You can submit to Google the links that you do not intend and it’s not guaranteed, but they are likely to listen and ignore them to improve your rank.
Create and submit a sitemap of your blog or website to tell search engines that you have a new link each time you post. If blogging, check for a plugin on the platform from which you blog on. The easiest example is for WordPress using their Google XML Sitemap. Or, if you run a website, make sure to submit your sitemap to Google WebMaster Tools. If you’re feeling adventurous, then do this for as many search engines as possible. Start by creating an account with each. This process will certainly speed up the time it takes the search engines to find your new content. Meaning earlier than expected traffic. Well, that’s the goal.
All search engines want to provide value to those who search and original content ensures you have value. Google, and similar search engines will index you much lower, if at all, if your content is extremely similar to other web sites. Don’t even think of creating new pages that just link to other pages either. Always give your unique spin on the keyword topic you are discussing. More originality=greater chance of traffic.
In the same vein, be careful of too many affiliate ads on your site. Of course, we hope we are one of them, but ads are considered links away from your site that are not original content. Search engines understand you will have ads – just balance it out with your content.
That wraps up our SEO tips! Our goal was to get you familiar with the basics of SEO. You must practice these tips to become comfortable and watch the changes in your blog or website ranking. Nail them and maybe we can help in the future with a more advanced series!
Anyone tried the new Google Disavow Tool? Let us know how it may have worked for ya in the comments below. Actually, tell us anything you like in the comments below, I’d love to hear from ya’ll!
Whew, that is the last tip we have in this “Get Traffic” series! Check out all your FREE goodies you can immediately try for traffic to your blog or website:
Part 5: The Basics of SEO to Drive Traffic to your Blog or Website | Part 5 of 5 in a “get traffic” series (that’s what you just finished reading)
Using Engagement Tactics to Drive Traffic to your Blog or Website | Part 3 of 5 in a “get traffic” series
Free Traffic to your site with these Engaging Tips
Engagement. It’s just a little buzzword for describing how you interact with your online audience, both online and even offline. It’s also measurable with the ultimate goal of bringing traffic back to you. It’s funny how the Internet has taken a normal human ability for socialization and has us quantifying our interactions with others, then measuring the outcome of those interactions all in hopes that we can maximize our impact with future interactions. But that is a philosophical debate for another time. Simply, engagement is no different from brick and mortar stores where they talk to their customers, call up their mentors, visit surrounding businesses, and participate in various business associations. All in hopes that the more you put yourself out there, the more business will come your way. Let’s talk about just how to do that on the Wild Wild Webs with our new buzzword – Engagement. (pssst – all methods are FREE)
But before we jump in, I wanted to remind ya this is part of a series for driving traffic to your blog or website – all for FREE. First, we gave an overview of 4 basic tactics for driving traffic. Then we continued the series, by delving into the specifics of our first topic: Social Media. Next up is today’s topic: Engagement. A lot will refer to social media as engagement, which it certainly is part of it, but I’ll provide other, more creative ways of engagement. That discussion begins now…..
5 tips to try today to engage your audience and bring traffic to your site:
1. Blog and Forum Commenting
I’m pretty sure you already are reading blogs that are similar to your niche as well as reviewing specific topics in helpful forums. Get to commenting! Every time. By commenting on other’s blogs and participating in niche specific forums you are interacting with an audience that is targeted to your niche. While commenting use these tips:
-Hopefully you’ve already created a Social Media presence. Most blogs will allow you to comment as your Twitter self – for example. This way, if people are interested in you, they click your avatar and find out information about you -maybe even leading back to your site!
-Leave a thoughtful comment. Avoid: “great post” or “good job”. State specifically what interested you or how the blog enlightened you. These details get attention and give someone a reason to reach out to you.
-Avoid placing a link back to your website in your comment. Most blog commentators or forums will delete your comment if you appear ‘spammy’. Your avatar for commenting should have details on how one can find you online.
If you don’t already have a blog roll you follow, try social sharing forums such as Reddit or Stumbleupon. You’ll quickly come across some you’d like to follow. Bonus: don’t forget to register your blog to these forums to get found.
2. Link back to other sites from your blog or website
If they are checking their analytics, they’ll take notice and most likely visit you. This may lead to a link exchange if they find you relevant. Linking back to you is the ultimate goal here. In this way they share their audience with you, meaning eyeballs to your site.
3. Attend your industry events
Remember our analogy of how brick and mortar stores attend their area business meetings and industry events? Well this is one offline form of engagement that still matters. Begin interacting in person with those who are similar to your niche. With everything so automated lately, a little emotional human interaction will help you to stick out in their minds. People are more likely to work with those they know. Maybe a joint development will come about that shares the audience between you and your new business partner. More visits to your site! Added bonus is the energy you pick up on from the events. You’ll return to your site motivated to make it the best.
4. Install a RSS feed/email subscription on your website or blog
Use the feed and email subscription to remind your traffic that you’re still there. Send them website updates or an email newsletter. Keep in touch with those who are already your visitors in hopes that they will return and just maybe, bring more people to your website. Need help in developing an email newsletter? I got the details for you here: Anatomy of a Weekly Email Newsletter
5. Guest Post
Guest posting is where you write a blog post for another blog. This is in hopes that others will take notice, become interested in what you have to say, and then visit your website or blog. Be careful not to be sales-y in your guest post. It should remain objective and helpful to the audience of the blog you are writing for. Instead, make sure your avatar and ‘about me’ section of the post contain your expertise and the link back to your site or social media channels.
Again, all methods above are the online and offline replacement of the socializing that brick and mortar stores do for bringing in business. Take advantage of these engagement tactics for visits back to your site.
Want more free ways of getting traffic back to your blog or website? Check out the previous two articles in this series.
Next up: We’ll detail some ways of using the various services Google offers for getting your traffic.
Let us know in the comments below if you have anything to add to these tips or ways I did not mention.
Free Traffic to your site with Social Media
Recently, we outlined 20 FREE ways to drive traffic to your site. The methods were broken down by category, but I realized there is so much more information to these tips than just listing them out. First up, are the Social Media methods. By consistently employing each of the methods below, I promise you will see more traffic to your site. Let’s get started….
Just in case you need to be reminded of the obvious – Twitter is a great place to engage an audience and promote your brand. Use this strategy as you begin:
- First you need to get a following to have someone to promote your blog/website to. Shoot for 5-7 daily tweets. A couple your own content, maybe a retweet, a couple that share or comment on others content, (the more relevant to your niche the better) and asking one conversational question seem to be the norm.
- Make sure tweets with your own content contain links back to your blog/website.
- Make sure to follow people everyday and engage your new followers through the tweeting rules above. It’s best to follow those that would be interested in your brand as you start. A keyword search within Twitter can help you to get started.
- Certainly follow back anyone that follows you
- Add you blog/website URL prominently to your Twitter Profile.
- Before your first pin, do some research and identify your target audience. You’ll want to use keywords in your pin descriptions as well as images that will speak to them.
- Then use your blog post or website images to create your pins. This is where interesting, original images will come in handy. Consider infographics – even if they are not part of your post, but as a way to summarize it. Consider even just text – choose eye-catching fonts and colors to state your blog title or website page title.
- Remember that research you did with keywords? Well make sure to include those keywords in your pin description so others can find you. Include your blog or website URL as well in your description. You’ll notice that you can type a whole lot there in the description, but I suggest just enough to captivate your audience and get them to click-through to your blog post or website. Keywords can be used with #hashtags similar to Twitter.
- Make use of the Pinterest Social Sharing button on your blog or website images. Your able to control where the image directs and initially, the description.
- Similar to Twitter, get social! Don’t just promote your brand, but pin other’s relevant posts as well. Your building a community of viewers to your site as well as developing and sharing your visitors with one another, in an effort to attract more visitors.
- Make sure to share your blog posts and any brand news. Look helpful by sharing news and articles that others in your niche may find relevant.
- Comment with care on pages similar to your niche.
- Remember one of the strategies of Twitter was to share your own content with a tweet? To add credibility to your blog or website with another social media outlet, consider linking your tweet back to the blog post posted on Facebook. Use sparingly as remember, you’d rather they direct back to your blog or website.
- You can be a little more casual on Twitter, but try to keep Facebook only about content regarding your blog and brand.
- With your personal Facebook maybe consider updating your “Work and Education” section to represent your Facebook Fan page for your blog or website.
- Now that you have a Fan Page don’t forget to review your Facebook insights. Visit http://www.facebook.com/insights while logged in. You’ll get a look at how others are engaging with your posts so you know what kind of content to keep providing your users so they’ll keep coming back.
- Just like the other networks will pay off if you research your industry keywords, do so here as well. Use those keywords when completing your “About” section of your profile.
- Google+ activity will show up in a search result over other Social Media activity during a Google Search. Again, post often in your + account and pay attention to those keywords most relevant to the audience you wish to attract. They’re likely to find you when your content is ranking high.
- Take advantage of the Google+ Hangouts. It’s a way to interactively mingle with those who are interested in your blog or website niche topic. Try providing informative advice on your niche in general to attract the most viewers – don’t use it as a session to promote your blog or business. And guess what?! After the experience, since you directly engaged someone, guess who they will be talking about after. 🙂 It’s such a cool, new thing that people will definitely be talking about their Google+ Hangout experience. (hopefully with you)
- There’s this little thing called Google Authorship that happens naturally as you link your Google+ profile to your blog and vice versa. Google Authorship means it begins to trust you as a source on your topic. You’ll begin to rank higher so others find you. Bonus: You’re Google+ Profile pic may show up in Google Search results along your blog post or website! So make sure your Google+ Profile pic is best representing you or your business.
- Engage, Engage, Engage. Use your Google + profile often to find new followers and interact so you attract more followers. The benefit here over other social networks is that you will eventually begin to rank higher in search results (meaning greater chances of people finding your blog/website) as your network grows.
- Make sure to upload your blog posts here. Especially the more polished of your posts that would be helpful to those in your niche. For your website – provide your project status updates or any new developments.
- Take advantage of the “Recommendations”. Did you work with someone who maybe helped by guest posting, or provided design services? Give them an honest ‘recommendation’. These recommendations show up on their profile and get you views to your profile. Now sell ’em on your profile to bring traffic back to your site!
- You can import other social media streams to your profile. Try a widget for uploading your Tweets. Just be careful not be sale-sy as you Tweet.
- Take advantage of LinkedIn’s Answers resource. Browse through your industry Keywords to provide expertise on other’s questions. When you post your answer, there’s a link back to your profile and you may gain creditability. It works by asking questions too.
- Update your Business Skills. By choosing wisely, you’re bound to attract viewers as well as appear in the “Related Companies” for the skills you choose. For each skill set there are also groups to join.
We love picking Troy Olson’s massive brain. He’s the SEO guru over at JEMSU, and from one interview came three great videos. Here he talks about how easy it is to focus your business. It begins with knowing the keywords that describe who you are and what you do. Because, when you think about it, that’s how people will find you…and it’s how your customers will become interested in what you do.
The Insightful is supposed to be posted here every Wednesday, and offers information and advice to entrepreneurs and business ninjas. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for regular informative and entertaining videos.
We’re doing a weekly show featuring tested experts in the fields that matter to you: marketing, search engine optimization, startups, management, podcasting, video and anything you can suggest. Really, if you’d like us to get someone on camera to share their ideas, let us know. Although if it’s your friend “The Cat Lady” wanting to show how to wean kittens, then maybe not. Although cat videos are pretty huge.
Still, though, we’ll stay focused on the following thing:
1. Videos that help you succeed.
Here’s one, and it’s uber-helpful: All those little tricks you need to know about SEO (and it has a lot to do with who you already are: an expert.)