I’ve had a lot of questions from readers lately about how to get the domains they are developing to rank well in search. Too many people think that getting a site to rank means simply putting a website on an exact-match domain. Sorry, there was a time and a few niches where that used to work, but that’s not going to fly any more. Now to rank well you have to do what Google really wanted you to do all along, build a site that people actually like, and better yet use.
Of course there are still plenty of people out there who build a great site on a domain, continue to add fresh content, yet still don’t rank well. What’s the deal? In many cases I find that these people are all repeating a very similar mistake, this mistake is why most people fail at SEO.
You can build the best site in the world that offers killer features that your audience loves but if nobody knows about it, then nobody is going to use it, share it, and help you make your site popular. You see this is what Google is really looking for, they don’t care if you spent a year building the site or if you spent $20,000 on a top-notch designer to make it pretty, they care about how many other people are talking about it, and more importantly linking to it. That’s right, the missing link in the SEO game is more often than not – backlinks.
The problem with the SEO world today is that the net is full of outdated tutorials that might have applied 2-3 years ago but certainly don’t apply today. Far too many people think that getting good backlinks means having tons of blog comment and forum profile backlinks coming to their site. The reality is that the search engines have figured out that cool sites that people like tend to get written up in publications within their niche. If all your links are ones that you were just able to get, that you didn’t have to work for, don’t expect amazing results. Instead all it takes is a few solid backlinks from high-authority sources, forget the shotgun approach, go for quality over quantity.
In many cases this could be as simple as picking up the phone and calling a writer for a blog or magazine you think might be interested in covering what you’ve built. Reporters are always looking for stories, especially exclusives, and if you have built something you’re truly proud of you should be comfortable talking about it and showing it off. Sounds like work? It is. Gone are the days where you can pay someone $10/hour to go on a link building mission for you and move your site above the fold. Now SEO has become much more personal, you’ll most likely know your link partners on a first-name basis, the good news for all of us is that those who build real brands, with solid content and useful features have a better chance than ever to succeed.
Remember, you can’t have it both ways. Which would you rather see at the top of your search results, a site with 1,000 backlinks from random forums or a site with 10 backlinks from sites like the New York Times and TechCrunch? So if your site isn’t ranking like it should, don’t blame Google, blame yourself and make a change today to get moving in the right direction. If you don’t want to do the work, don’t expect to see the results, it’s that simple.