We all know that search engine traffic rocks; it’s highly targeted and it’s free so what’s not to love?
For years and I focused almost all my traffic-generation efforts on the search engines and did very well out of it – right up until Google started to make regular and massive changes to their algorithm.
Now, over the last few years, a problem has emerged. Quite simply there’s no guarantee whatsoever that a site that ranks well today will still do so tomorrow. Traffic can dry up overnight. And with it, your profits. And that dream of escaping the rat race can vanish in the blink of an eye.
This is in stark contrast to the “old Google,” when dozens of my sites just sat at the top of the Google for literally years on end bringing in visitors and sales like clockwork.
Now though, search engine traffic is riskier and less predictable than ever before. So what to do? Well clearly search engine traffic has a lot of value – so we’d be mad to completely turn our backs on it.
Google can still send you a ton of traffic when you learn the basics of search engine optimization. But now any website owner who relies heavily on free search traffic needs to take steps to protect themselves and their business – mainly through diversification.
So let’s talk about some of the more effective ways that I’ve been diversifying my search engine traffic over the last few months to help insulate me from algorithm fluctuations and ensure I’m still driving traffic for a long time to come – no matter what Google decides to do next…
Google Isn’t The Only Search Engine
Firstly while Google may certainly be the “800lb gorilla” of the search engine world – it’s certainly not the only player in the market. Bing and Yahoo are still alive and kicking (for now at least) and in my experience their algorithms are far less sophisticated than Google’s which makes ranking well far easier.
In many ways SEO for Yahoo and Bing is like Google SEO was a few years ago – not only are backlinks still king but they’re far less picky at present about diversified link portfolios.
So, while Google should in all honesty be your biggest focus, don’t ignore their smaller competitors as ranking is easier and SERP fluctuations are less extreme making them a more reliable, predictable target for the die hard search engine marketer.
Get On Google Plus
Studies have shown that setting yourself up with a Google Plus account – and implementing Google Authorship markup on your site – can significantly increase the traffic you’re driving from Google.
Having your mug shot next to your website listings helps them stand out from the crowd and draws extra clicks – even if your rankings themselves don’t increase.
And of course there are other benefits; such as the way that Google promotes your account in their search engine – allowing you to build your social media following on autopilot and market to these interested individuals time and again.
As an example, I recently set up a Google Plus page about gardening which I just use as a channel to share garden-related content that I find interesting. With zero promotion this page has already amassed just shy of 90 followers in the last few weeks – simply by choosing a keyword-rich Google Plus page name and regularly scheduling content.
Optimize Your Content As Much As Your Homepage
It’s so tempting to build a website around a specific keyword phrase and drive most of your links to that homepage. But overall getting homepage links is easy; virtually any blog comment, directory listing or blogroll link will point to your homepage; what’s far harder is building “deep links” to your individual web pages.
Personally I’ve been experimenting with this over the last few months and by spending 90% of my time building links to individual pages rather than my home page – and then allowing natural linking to my main homepage – I’m now receiving more traffic to my latest sites than I am to many of my older and more established web properties.
We’ve already mentioned Google Plus but in terms of social media it’s still really small fry. Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter and LinkedIn are the real “heavy hitters” in the market with millions of accounts each.
If you’re already successfully driving traffic from the search engines to your site then try to leverage this resource to build your following on social media sites. Not only does this give you another source of traffic if ever the Google algorithms move against you, but you also increase your chances of additional traffic from people sharing your content with their friends.
Getting more Facebook fans or Twitter followers needn’t be difficult; include carefully-chosen keywords in your account names (to drive organic traffic) and link to your accounts from your main website. Worse case scenario you could even advertise. Personally, I display a feed of the latest content I’ve shared on Facebook in the sidebar of one of my blogs and it consistently drives new fans on a daily basis.
Infact, thanks to the natural links it has received and all the engagement my page sees, it now actually ranks higher in Google than my main site and has significantly increased my overall reach.
Build Your Newsletter
No matter what anyone may say, email is still “king”. Your primary focus should therefore be on capturing as many email addresses as possible from your visitors. Create a valuable resource (ebook, software application, video course etc.) and offer it to your visitors for free – in exchange for signing up for your newsletter.
Not only does building your email subscriber list insulate you from the vagaries of the search engines but it can also drive instant traffic back to your site every time you publish a new article.
Diversify Your Links
The final point about diversifying your marketing – and hence your risk – is to diversify your links.
That means varying them as much as possible. So aim to build links from a wide variety of sources (directories, blogs, press releases etc.), vary the text you use to link to your website, the pages you link to and even aim for some nofollow links here and there.
By following this process you’ll help to create a more “natural looking” and less optimized link profile that should stand the test of time and keep your entrepreneurial dreams alive.