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TOPIC: Exploring Website Traffic Generation Techniques (Audio Interview with Transcription)

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Transcript follows:

Fred: Welcome folks! I’m Fred Gleeck, and I’m here again with Ben Stickland. Ben thank you again for taking your time.

Ben: Fred, I had lots of fun a couple of days ago, and I’ve been looking forward to it. So, this is great. Thank you!

Fred: Excellent! Well, good. Let’s talk to people this time — First off, we need to go back and touch on one thing that we talked about before that you said you were going to get some information on. I don’t know if you had a chance to check on the term bounce rate.

Ben: Yeah, and the definition that we were looking at is, is bounce rate what we thought it would always be, which is simply the number of people that come to a page and then leave. So they don’t visit a second page. They don’t fill out a form, which would typically involve them then getting to a second page as well. They just leave. And Google Analytics is getting really good at being able to measure how long people stay on a site and those sorts of things. And so I wanted to, you know, with the trainings in technology and the fact that you can really have a one page website that can be quite interactive, whether Google was starting to modify their measure of what a bounce rate was and whether if somebody played with the one page for a while whether they would consider it to no longer have bounced. So, I did a little bit of looking, and pretty quickly got to the Google definition of bounce rating, and it is just the simple definition. It’s the number of people that view one page and then exit. And so it doesn’t matter how long they stay or what they do within that page. It’s just the number of people that exit. And unless you are running a page that doesn’t require an action, that is miserable. So if your one page is a phone number that you’re expecting people to see and then ring you, a high bounce rate in that case would actually be acceptable. But if you’re looking to take people through an action, for example opt-in to an offer or site, then if you are getting a high bounce rate, then essentially people are not taking that action. And it’s something that you need to be sensitive to.

Fred: Well, one would think that Google would want to revise that and make it so that at least, that the time amount, that the time spent on a page, because you take the absurd example of having a one page site that had a lot of great content and went on for pages and pages, really, but just one long page, and it would seem absurd that if people were spending an hour or two on that site, that those people when they leave the site would have considered to have been bounced.

Ben: Yeah, and I think Google in its world wants every site to be a hundred pages of rich content and articles that people would navigate through. It doesn’t see that single page site, really, as a highly valid kind of arrangement. In fact, we’ve been taking some one page sites and looking at ways to make them multi-sites purely to appease Google and different sensors.

So, I think you’re right. It’s been a while since I’ve done it, but I’m 98% confident that you can set up in your goal tracking in analytics, which is where you can say to Google, “Hey, I consider completing this thing the objective of my website,” and, “Tell me what percentage of people complete it.” I’m basically positive that you can do time on site as a goal. So you can say, “In my world I’m not the normal thing that Google would look at. I’m interested in how long I can engage people for in my one page site.” And so, I’m going to say anyone that stays on my one page site for more than three minutes, or whatever your time barrier is, that’s considered a conversion. And then optimize for that. That’s something that you could do in that particular case.

Fred: Yeah, well, we could go on forever on this one because I know there’s a ton of different perspectives. But I did, I found the same definition you did. And it was pretty interesting to see that they really didn’t place any emphasis on time. And as you said, their looking at sites that have massive amounts of contents and massive amount, a site like my, like, which does exactly that. It’s got tons and tons of pages. And they tend to like that.

Ben: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Fred: Okay, let’s talk about traffic then. Tell me for people, again, going back to my three-legged stool of information marketing, where you have product, you have conversion, and you have traffic — Everybody is all excited about traffic. And I always, whenever I do a seminar on topics like this, I always tell people that if you were to run a bath with, and run a bath to make yourself a hot bath to go sit in, and if you started the water up, and you didn’t put the stopper in the drain, unless you were living in New York City, where I have a place that when you turn on the water, it’ll actually fill up, it’s got such great water pressure that it’ll fill up without the stopper in the drain, but in most cases you won’t be able to fill up your bathtub with water that’s running without putting the stopper in, and my analogy there that I’m using is if you’re getting a ton of traffic and you’re not converting it, you can’t make any money. But on the flip side, if you’re getting no traffic, you can’t make any money either. So we need to talk about that.

Ben: Yeah, sure. And clearly traffic is important. And I’ve just done a blog post around conversion, and there was and said, “Well, is traffic an issue at all.” And it absolutely is. The other part of that relationship, I think, is that when you increase your conversion rate, you actually, it becomes economically viable and attractive to third parties to send you traffic. So, if you’ve got a well-converting website, you can pay for advertising and affiliates who essentially send you traffic on the basis that they will receive a commission. They are more inclined to do business with you. So, that’s the other, I suppose, relationship between traffic and conversion.

But talking more directly about traffic, there really is a huge array of alternatives for attracting traffic to your website. And if we were to sort of put them into, sort of, categories, I suppose, there’s offline, so that’s anything that you do that is external to the internet that drives traffic…

Fred: Ben, let me, let me interrupt you a quick second. I always say let me see if I’ve got, if you’re on the same track that I am. I always say there are four quadrants. There’s online, offline, paid, and unpaid.

Ben: Yep, yep, yep. And the fascinating thing about that quadrant is the unpaid portion, it’s always funny because you can spend as much on the unpaid portion, setting up the systems and the mechanisms to attract your own quote free traffic as you can just going and paying for it.

Fred: Yep.

Ben: And I’ve certainly had the experience where I’ve gone and run an SEO campaign, but the boundaries of the SEO campaign, knowing that this particular, the one case that I can think of, that the site owner is, years after it’s still attracting traffic as a result of the work we did. But within the time measurement, and I had to, in that case, be honest and say this person, “Look, if we’d just gone to Google AdWords and bought the traffic, you would’ve spent less to get the traffic that we have attracted as a result of this program.” So, sometimes the free is, there’s — You’ve got to use your intelligence to say, “Well, free traffic is typically the result, I get free traffic today as a result of the hard work that I did yesterday.”

Fred: Right.

Ben: Whereas paid traffic is, I can get my traffic instantly. You know, without too much work, I can get it really quickly, but tomorrow I won’t get that traffic unless I pay for it again.

Fred: Well, let’s discuss both, or all four quadrants if you want so that we can help our listeners to really understand how they can generate the traffic.

Ben: Yeah, okay. And I suppose the space in which I spend the most of my time and probably speak the most and those sorts of things would be with SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, which is what we call the free traffic ad of Google. So, that’s — And the other search engines, which in the U.S. are a significant factor. So, that’s probably a space where there’s some insights that we could give people that they may not have, though I regularly see people don’t have, that I think could probably be helpful.

Fred: That’d be great.

Ben: So, the goal with search engine optimization is basically that you would get, that Google would send people to your website, and that you would make money from that. And, so the starting point for a search engine optimization campaign is essentially knowing what key words you wish to rank for. And that’s where keyword research and market research comes into it. And, really, we sell a keyword research software. And it’s interesting because the thing that I have become more and more aware of is that what good keyword research does for you is it improves the odds of the experiment of putting content on a website. And so I’ll break that down a little bit.

Fred: Okay.

Ben: When you seek to gain traffic on a keyword, you must publish content on that. Google is looking to give people good answers to the search queries that they’ve typed. And so you need to provide a good answer. And then, and so keyword research is basically the process of saying, okay, of all the different keywords that somebody could search for what would be relevant to me? And when you start to dig into those, often there’s hundreds or even thousands that relate to a business. And at worst case there’s typically dozens. Of all those different keywords, what are the keywords that have the properties that are interesting to me? And so the kinds of things that we’re looking for when we do some keyword research is we say, okay, if we’ve got a list of — And here, when I do research, the prospect list would often be at least 1,000 keywords. And so out of those 1,000 keywords, which of them have enough traffic to be interesting? Which of them have been searched frequently enough to be worth my effort of even going after them? Which of them have a low enough competitive profile that I could expect to win? And so, if you’re trying to rank on a very competitive keyword, it’s not that you couldn’t do it, but the investment required to do it is typically out of reach. And so, there’s that element of competitiveness.

Thirdly, there’s what we call commerciality, which is, some keywords may have lower traffic, and they may have slightly higher competition, but the reality is they represent people in the buying zone rather than people of just general interest. The classic example is of somebody looking for what we in Australia call plasma TV, someone searching for plasma TVs is really doing research on the alternatives. Someone looking for the Panasonic XYZed model is typically what we call furthering the buying cycle. They’re actually looking for — They know the television they’re after, and they maybe at that point comparison shopping, or what have you.

So, the elements, when we think about keywords, and our keyword tool, and the link, it was Cool Research, Cool Keyword Tool?

Fred: Cool Reasearch Tool.

Ben: Cool Research Tool. So, If you go there, you can get a sequence of free training videos in how to do keyword research. And the software, you get a free trial that we’ll give you long enough to do all the research you want. In fact, the keyword research component is actually free forever. So, it never, that component is free. And it’s the other pieces around tracking your results, etc. that you may want to pay for at some point.

So, the first part of this puzzle is just saying, okay, what keywords do I want to rank for? And you can go on and look at research tools to say, well how does that look in the marketplace? The other part of that puzzle is simply looking at your own web stats. And Google gives away the Google Analytics stats package for free. And that is a very powerful, very good package. And it will tell you things like what keywords are driving the most traffic to your website. And one of the really great things for a website owner to do, one of the best things you can do is simply log in to your analytics account, typically expand the date range, — They give you by default when you open up Google Analytics, you’ll be looking at the last month, but if you just click on the date select, you can make it, say, the last six months. And then just go in there and say, okay. Have a little look under the keyword section and say, what keywords are bringing traffic to my website? And then take those keywords and just search on them in Google. And if you take the —

It is a very rare occurrence that if someone will take the top ten keywords that are driving traffic to them already and pop them into Google, that they won’t see obvious opportunities for improvement. So let me give you an example of what that might look like. You might have a keyword, which is driving your, is the sixth most popular keyword on your website, and it’s driving you 12 visitors a day. And when you search for it, you realize that your actually sitting at position number eight. Now, I should say, when you search for it, make sure you’re not logged into your Google account. And you’ll see that at the top right hand corner of your browser. Make sure you click the log out if you’re logged into Google account because it’ll actually, it’ll mess up the results and likely tell you you’re ranking higher than you actually are because of the way it likes to personalize. But assuming you’re not logged in, you do the search for the keyword that you rank on.

And the kinds of observations that often shock people a little bit is they’ll go, well, hang on, that page, the description that comes up in the search results is not very good at what we call selling the click. It’s not actually a very good sales pitch and inducing people to come into our website. And furthermore, when I look at the words in the blue link, the keyword that I’m ranking for is only partly represented there, which means that that page, which is ranking number eight, A. It’s wants to instill the sixth most popular phrase driving traffic to my sight. It’s doing a lousy job for a couple of reasons. One, I’m not actually well optimized for it. We’ll talk a little bit more about optimization in a moment, which means that my page is kind of getting that traffic almost by dumb luck. It wasn’t really set up to attract that traffic. And secondly, people searching for that, the results, the words that come up on that search result do a lousy job of encouraging people to click through. And those are both things that can be rectified, typically in minutes. You know, we can typically go through and quite quickly fix those up.

And I saw an example, and I need to be careful not to betray confidences here, but I saw an example from a very popular website. I happen to know the owner here in Australia. And it’s in a very profitable niche. He has made a — He’s a millionaire out of this website. And his most, and he bemoans, he’s got one major competitor. And that competitor outranks him on his most popular phrase. And he was kind enough, I was having a chat with him, and I said can I look at your analytics? And I just glanced at it. And I was amazed that despite him bemoaning this, and despite him making, him becoming a multi-millionaire through his website, that the phrase that he was being outranked for, that was his most popular phrase, he was actually not optimized for it. He could literally make a five minute change to his website and knock out his competitor and take over his competitor. And going from position number two to position number one, you would normally expect double your traffic on that particular keyword. And so, this mistake is really quite endemic, and we see it quite a lot.

Fred: Now, how can someone who’s listening to this program, it’s all interesting in theory, and I love listening to you talk about it, and fascinating, how can they profit from this? What should they do if they’re listening to this to make sure that they’re getting the best results?

Ben: Okay, so, this is, to me, almost just a basic housekeeping, kind of, thing that you would do, is, for me, I would use the top 20 keywords. If I’ve got a website that’s established, and I’m getting a little bit of traffic, you know like sort of 50-100 visitors per day, I would just go into Google, go into my analytics, look at all the keywords, the top 20 most popular keywords for the last six months, just do a search on them, or in the Market Samurai product, they could also look in what’s called inside competition tag, which will break this down for me in incredible detail, and just say is the keyword that’s driving the traffic, am I actually set up to optimize for it? Because if I’m sitting at number seven or eight, or somewhere near the bottom of the front page of Google, and I’m not optimized for it, simply by optimizing, and I’ll define that in a moment, simply by optimizing my page, I would expect to go up the rankings.

And the traffic growth from going up rankings from the bottom of the front page of Google to the top of the front page of Google is exponential. I mean, if you go from the bottom to the top, we expect about a four to eight times increase in traffic. We go from position number three to position number one, we expect about four times increase in traffic. Now that can vary from market to market, but it’s not just that being number two gets a little bit less. It gets me, like, half. And bidding at number three gets me a quarter of the traffic. And if you’re sitting at those positions, which a lot of people are, on pages that are actually not properly optimized, then if you’ll do the short and easy amount of work to optimize, what you’ll do is you’ll just go and get the money that you’re basically leaving on the table. You’re just going to take that traffic because you’ll just do the basic work.

Now, we’re going to move beyond that in our discussion in a moment because you do want to go and say, assuming I’ve got the basics in order, how do I attract more traffic. Then we’ll talk about that. But I see this problem of unoptimized pages that are the main traffic drivers. I see it consistently. And I would — It occurs in like 80% of cases. So, let’s just talk a little bit about what it means to have an optimized page.

When you look at a webpage, there is a piece of information in that page referred to as the title tag. Now, for anyone who’s interested, there is a plug in, or a little bit of extra software you can get for the Firefox browser that, it does a beautiful job of making this really obvious, and it’s called the Search Status Plug-in. If you just go to Google and type in Firefox plug in search status, it will come up and, provided you’ve got Firefox loaded, if you click on the link, inside the link on that page, it’ll basically load it up for you. And it puts a little tiny icon at the bottom of Firefox where you can right click on it, and it’ll just say, “Show me the meta tags.” And the title tags is referred to as, it’s one of the collection of these things we refer to as the meta tags. And the meta tags are like this information about the page that aren’t actually visible in the normal web page. You can’t actually see them, but they matter a whole lot to the search engines. And WordPress and most, just about every contact management system from managing the web pages, lets you edit and modify these meta tags. And just getting those right can be a massive improvement.

And so, but just, so the way that, even if you don’t have the Firefox search status plug in, the way that you can see your title tag is, if you’re using, say, Internet Explorer on a Windows computer, what you’ll see is in the blue bar, now the blue bar is the bit right at the, like you’ve got the, you’ve got your webpage; you typically got your blue box bar; then you’ve got the address bit where you type in dot dot dot dot, you know, the domain name you want to go to; then you’ve got the file menu; then above that, the bit where you actually, like the top of the whole window, there’s that blue bar, and typically you’ll have the words there that might be, you know, welcome to my website dash Internet Explorer. Now, ignore the dash Internet Explorer. That’s not really there. Microsoft just adds that for branding, but it’s actually not part of your title tag. The bit before the dash is your title tag. And if you’ve got welcome to my webpage, or even more criminal, unknown, or untitled, then basically what you’re doing is you’re saying to Google, that’s what I want to be known for. And so, you would expect that the keywords that you wish to rank for up here within that title tag.

If you want to rank for blue widgets, then you might say, you know, blue widgets supplied by XYZed company, great prices, great service. That word, blue widgets, needs to be in that title tag. And one of the really, I’ll give you another little, sort of command that you can type into your computer. And this is, again, quite insightful. If you’ll just go to Google and type the words site, s-i-t-e, colon, so it’s site, colon, and then your domain name. So, that might be, you know, dub dub dub, or what have you. If you’ll type that in and press enter, what Google will do is basically bring you back in order of priority of importance a list of all the pages that it knows that you have published. And the fascinating thing that happens when you do that, and again, I’ve seen, this goes on in maybe 50% of the cases, and this is a really easy thing to detect, what you’ll see is a whole bunch of websites actually have the same title tag across numbers of their pages. Now, that is like a crime. That is so horrendously bad. And the reason it’s bad is because you’re basically saying to Google, hey, I want to optimize all my webpages are competing for the same keyword. So, you’re competing with yourself. Google will only show you, only show one of your pages in the search results when people search for something. Maybe if you’re a high authority site they’ll do a double listing, which is two listings. But if you’ve got 20 or 30, or I’ve seen 100 pages on a website all with the same title tag, you’re basically saying to Google, ignore 98 of the 100 pages on my website because they’ve all got the same title tag. And if you were to go through and simply edit the title tags on your webpages, and just, even if you didn’t do keyword research, even if you just guessed, and said, I’ll put in title tags that are different, that relate to my content, but I think might be searches that people are searching for, that can give you a boost. And that activity on a website, you can measure that in minutes. That would take less than an hour to do for, even for 100 page website.

Fred: And again, Ben, sorry to interrupt, but for the person who’s not that net savvy or computer savvy, they could just Google the term, how do I change the title tag on my website, and they’d probably come up with a hundred different videos on how to do it, right?

Ben: Yeah. I’ll tell you an even better way to do it, and this is what I do personally. I know how to edit all this stuff, but when I’m working on a site, I will just open up the browser, I will see those title tag problems, and I’ll just open up a spreadsheet. And I’ll copy the address as the first line of the spreadsheet, and then underneath that I’ll have title, we’ll talk about description in a moment, I’ll have title, description, and I’ll just top it all — I’ll copy the current title, the current description in, and I’ll use that and I’ll say, well, I actually want to say X. And I’ll just type it over the top. And then I will sit there and, for 100 page website it might take you one or two minutes per page. So that would actually take you a couple of hours. But I will sit there and write out this long spreadsheet. And it is boring work. It’s quite dull. But it is the most, it is highly leveraged work. That will pay off for you for years to come. I will just create a spreadsheet and e-mail it to my web developer. And it will be the most boring thing they’ve done. And it will take them less time to copy and paste it in there than it took you to write it. So even if you can’t do it yourself, it would be a very low cost, basic job for someone to do the thinking and then hand off to their developer.

If I can go into the spreadsheet thing just a little bit more, when you look at a search result in Google, you’ll notice that Google will actually cut off the text if somebody rambles too long. So, if somebody writes a title tag that is 500 characters long, the search result in Google just spits out the first 65 characters, and it puts an ellipse, dot dot dot, at the end of it. And so, one of the things that I like to do when I’ve got a spreadsheet is I like to use a little, a thing called the LEN function. So, the way you use that is, if I’ve got a column, and I’ve got the text I’m going to have in the title tag, next to it, I’ll have that written out, and then next to it I’ll have another cell that says equals LEN, L-E-N, brackets, E3 if E3 is where my cell is, end brackets, and press enter. And that will just give me, that little function will save me so many hours of counting characters. That will tell me how many characters my title tag is. And I try to keep my title tag to about 65 characters. Now Google will actually display 69, but 65 is safe across all the engines, and you’re fine. And so, that little LEN function, if you can remember it, if you actually sit down and do the spreadsheet, I would recommend people doing it because it is the low hanging, easy to win, easy to get thing to do to boost the traffic on your website. It’s the best paid work you’ll probably do all year. And that’s just an easy way to do it.

And while we’re talking about things, the two numbers you need to remember is for title tags we make them 65 characters, and the next thing we have in our secret meta information is giving the information about our webpage is a thing called a description tag. And the description tag, you get up to 155 characters. So, can I talk a little bit about description tags and where they sort of…

Fred: Yeah, I think that’d be valuable.

Ben: Okay, so when you do search in a search engine, you typically, let’s take Google. You’re going to see some ads at the top, some ads down the right hand side, and the majority of the left hand side is what we call the free or the organic listings. And people will agonize in the paid section about the words that they’re going to use in that quite restricted little bit of text over in the AdWords section. But in the free section, the words that come under your link, people will often just throw anything up there. And we’ve certainly seen examples of people changing their words, and their rankings not changing at all, but their traffic volume increasing because they wrote, essentially, a more attractive ad. And whilst it doesn’t hold true all the time, in the vast majority of cases, you can control what Google put underneath your link, that second bit of text, you can control that by writing what we call the description tag. And the description tag, you can’t easily see on the webpage. It’s not visible anywhere. You can do a thing called looking at the source code, but that search status Firefox plug in is really easy because if you say show me the meta tags, it’ll show you the description tag, it’ll show you the title tag, and it’ll show you a bunch of stuff you don’t care about.

Fred: Now Ben, are we using that plug in on Firefox to do some competitive research? Is that what we’re doing? Are we going to our competition or are we going to ourself?

Ben: You can certainly do both. And in this case we’re talking about going to ourselves, but I’ll talk about competition in a moment. So, what I like to do if I’m helping out my sister who’s got a business and says, “Hey, can you have a quick look at my website?” I’m just going to her webpage. I’m doing this site colon dub dub dub, her domain name, dot com. I’m looking at what the important pages are and then just going through them, clicking on them and saying, okay, Firefox search status plug in, just tell me what the title tag is, what the description tag is, and it’s got a, it’s lovely. You can see them. You can copy them, paste them straight out of it. For her, for my sister, let’s call this consulting type arrangement, I will actually say, your current title is X. My proposed title is Y. And I’ll just put the one underneath the other. And then I’ll measure. I’ll do the little LEN function. And I’ll do the same with the description.

And then, so the way I plan it out is I’ll say, okay, this page, it might be my own page or one of my candidate pages, I’ll say, I’m going to target this keyword or this small group of closely related keywords, maybe two or three. I’ll say, these are the keywords I’m targeting. This is the title tag that I’m going to use to target those keywords. And this is the description tag I’m going to use, assuming that I’m writing an ad so that when I do rank, A. the keywords are in the title and in the description so that I’ve got the best chance of ranking, but B. I want to play that against writing an effective sales pitch in that little bit of text to induce the click, to sell the click, to get people to click through to my page.

And so the challenge comes in using the keywords that we want to rank for in such a way that it doesn’t look like, what I refer to as keyword stuffing. It doesn’t look like I’m just putting, you know, sometimes you’ll see search results, and all they are is keyword comma keyword comma keyword comma another keyword. And it’s like, you’ve got the keywords in there, but you haven’t told me anything about the benefits. You know, if you sold blue widgets, tell me that you sold blue widgets and that you’re the best price in California on blue widgets. And so, you want to mix both the sales pitch, and you want to have the keyword in there.

And for the description tag, there is some debate in the SEO community as to the importance of putting the keyword in the description tag. We’ve certainly found, in my opinion, it’s beneficial. But even if it’s not, the other thing that happens is, if somebody searches in Google for blue widget, and you’ve got blue widget in your title tag, and you’ve got it in your description tag, it actually gets bolded. In the search results in the description tag, it will come up in bold. So, it actually catches the human eye, which means that as a person’s scanning down, they see a search result, which is a good sales pitch and it’s got the thing that they just searched for, the thing that’s important to them, in bold. And so it’s inducing the click to click through on. So, that’s the reason that we would encourage people to look at that. And so, if you’ll go back to your websites, and do that basic analysis, and just take the time to write out the best title tags and the best description tags for your site, and e-mail it off to your developer, that’s very well paid work.

Fred: Now, in the event that someone listening to this program doesn’t have a developer or a web person, and again, this is the kind of thing where, again, I think it’s Fiverr is Australian based, it’s the kind of thing that a person on Fiverr could do very easily and very cheap, right?

Ben: Yeah. And I would probably go after it first up by, most people would know what the software is that manages their website, so WordPress or Joomla! Or Drupal or whatever the package is. And you can typically see that when you log into the back end of your website. I would just, if I couldn’t see it obviously, and often times if you’ve got the ability to edit the page, and a lot of people do, when you’re editing the pages, you just go and look for meta tags or title tag or something like that around the page, and just become conscious of it. But it’s typically there with the same spot that you can go and edit the content. But if I couldn’t see it, I would take the name of my content management system, whatever it was, and go edit title tag in WordPress, edit title tag in what have you, whatever, and see if there’s not some Google guides that could tell you.

But you’re exactly right. If you had to outsource it, this is, all the work in this is in thinking of what the best title tags and description tags are from a marketing perspective. Implementation on this is really simple.

Fred: Got it. Okay, good. So, that’s, those are some really quick fix things. And what I wanted to do in this time that we have together is give people two, three, four, or five different ways that they can maximize their traffic for, in other words, those activities which are the most highly leveraged, which I think you’ve just talked about. If you had done all of that, and let’s say someone listening had done all of the things you just described, what would they do next?

Ben: Okay, so, let’s think, there are three things that matter for search engine optimization. And if you do these three things, you will succeed over time. The first one is get the structure of your pages that you produce correct. Now, what we’ve just described of getting the keywords into the title and the description tag on your pages is 70% of getting the structure right. It’s more than half the game. And if that’s all you did, you would be ahead of 90% of the game.

Now, the other thing that you can do that’s really good from a structural perspective is actually link between the pages of your website on the words that you want to rank for. So, let’s say that I’m on the homepage of my website, and I’ve got a menu item or something else that takes me to my blue widgets page. If I actually link on the words blue widget to that page, I’m telling Google that that page is really about blue widgets because it’s got it in the title tag; it’s got it in the description; it’s probably got it in the content of the page, just the general writing, that’s useful, but not as important as the title tag; and if I’m also linking to it from other pages on my site with the words blue widget, that’s like the complete argument to Google that yes that page is about blue widget. I’m definitely — That’s what it’s all about. And that is, that presents a compelling argument. And that would be considered getting your structure right. So, the first one is structure.

The second piece of the puzzle is, what a lot of people don’t think of, is content. And it’s volume of content. And a lot of people, the third piece I’ll jump to is links, and a lot of people are aware that in order to rank, they need to get links from other sites back to them. But if you sit around at, which I’ve certainly done, at the speakers’ table at an SEO conference, the common discussion is, you know, you’ve got a website, you having a go at the market, well how many pages have you got? And if you don’t have a thousand page website, you’re really not having a go. And I’ll talk a bit in a moment about how you would get a thousand page website because that can be a scary thought for some people. But every page that you publish on your website gives you another chance to go for another set of keywords. Every page that you publish is like another ticket in the search engine lottery. Every page that you publish actually adds to the weightiness and the authority of your website.

Fred: You know, Ben, it’s interesting because I’ve heard this talked about before, which is that we shouldn’t be thinking about our website in the, sort of, collective gestalt, the whole, but we should be thinking about individual pages. Because Google doesn’t rank websites, they rank pages.

Ben: Exactly right. And the, when we talk about links in a moment, one of the things that’s really interesting is a link from one page to another is a link. A link is a link is a link. So if I put up more pages on my website, I’m giving myself more opportunities to link to the other pages on my website. I’m actually building my link profile simply by publishing more content. And there is, that needs to be tempered with the fact that, and we’ve got cases like this, where if you’ve got a million page website that doesn’t have enough external links coming into it, that Google will actually not index, it won’t take notice of all the pages on your site. So there does come a point where you need to build some external links. But most people are a long way away from maximizing what they could do simply by publishing more content.

And there’s another piece of this puzzle that people are often not aware of. And that’s this, when we do keyword research, we are looking for keywords that people are searching for regularly. And, but, say we’re looking for blue widget, or buy blue widget. We’re looking for two, and three, and four word keywords that people are going to look for. But 50% of all the searches that happen in the entire world in any calendar month, one half of them happened only once. They are unique. And so, they are typically longer searches that are — And you think about it yourself. Often times I’ll search for something that is a very obscure thing, or I’ll search for something that is five, six, seven words long. And I’m the only person in the world for that month that’s searched for that. And there is no page that was built specifically targeted to that search query because it is so obscure that nobody would bother optimizing for it. But what happens is, is Google is really good at saying, well, I’m going to give them something. And the something that it’s going to give them, it has to find pages that aren’t well optimized, but kind of vaguely match it because it wants to give them some sort of result. And what happens is, the people that have published lots and lots of pages have more and more chances to pick up the long tail search traffic. So, even if you’re struggling to compete on short tail, competitive phrases, if you will be the commentator about your market and you will publish lots of content, you will, in time, draw lots of long tail traffic, which will do other things. It will actually, people will like you, and they’ll link to you. And you’ll have internal links, and you’ll be able to win on the shorter game anyway.

So this whole notion of content publishing and publishing large volumes of content has a significant value. And you think about it, it’s actually also a competitive advantage. It’s not something that’s easy to do. It’s not easy to replicate a large volume of quality content. And so if, you know, content that — We’ve got the case here, I’ve got content that I published seven years ago that is bringing me leads this year. And it’s brining me new customers this year. So, there’s value in that. Does that sort of make sense?

Fred: Yeah, it does. You know, and to ask a very selfish question, I was thinking about your internal linking, and one of the things that many people, I’m sure are probably wondering is, you know how, on all of our sites, we have different sort of links on the, usually on the top that are navigation links. And my question is, is it critical to be thinking keywords when you put up those navigation bar links on your own site that link within your own site and to other separate pages?

Ben: You’ve just delved into one of the more controversial areas of SEO. And I’ll give you my answer, which is yes. I want the links from my navigation, which structurally occur first in the page to be keyword rich. Now, at, if you look up, there’s a post that I’ve written called First Link Priority, which is, talks about this in depth. But let me tell you a couple of key things that are really, if we’re going to talk about linking structures internally, one of the things that you will see, when Google looks at a webpage, when we see a webpage, we see pretty pictures. We see a nice navigation, etc. But Google doesn’t see that. Google sees the source code of your webpage, and it makes a decision based on the source code. And it has a really interesting piece of behavior, which is if you’ve got a link from one page to another, so let’s say we’ve got a site which sells a range of things, and one of the things it sells is blue widgets. And on our blue widget page, we’ve got lots of links back to our homepage. We’ve got a link from our logo. We’ve got a link from the home thing at the bottom. We’ve got a link from somewhere deep in our page. We’ve got three links on that page that would actually take a person back to the homepage. The fascinating thing to know is that Google ignores all but the first link, which means that if you link with a second and a third link that has that nice anchor text beneath the blue underline, if you link using those words as a second or third link, you’re doing no value. And it’s really common that people will have a logo that is actually, structurally the first link on their page. And that logo links to their homepage. And so they’ll have a 500 website, 500 page website, sorry, where every page links to home from the logo, and every page’s link to the homepage carries no meaning. It’s not helping that page rank on a keyword of relevance. And if they simply restructured that page and, it’s a visual example I need to give, but the blog post explains it, exactly what to do and actually give you the code to do it. If they would simply alter the way they link on that logo, visually it would look identical. Nobody, none of your visitors would know the difference. They will, in many cases, rank quickly on the keywords that their homepage is going for by restructuring the link. Does that make sense?

Fred: It does. Now the thing about it is, is that many people upon hearing any or all of this information, might get a little bit disappointed and discouraged because they had screwed things up, and they’re now going, oh crap, I gotta go redo this. Once I have a site up, let’s say in your example of the one with 500 pages, I can go back and make some changes. All of the work I’ve done before then hasn’t been for not, right? I mean, I’ve created all this content, and if I make these changes, it’s not like I have to wait now forever for those changes to give me benefit. Correct?

Ben: No, no, no. In fact, the exact opposite. You will, all that work, by correcting a structural problem, you will gain greater leverage from the preexisting work you’ve already done. And so this is, if you detect this problem, whilst you may be slightly disappointed that you’ve been missing out on the opportunity from the past, you should actually be grateful because typically this sort of a change is a template change. It’ll be done on the template that drives your entire website. So, a web developer, someone with a little bit of skill is going to have to implement this, but it’s going to take them somewhere between one to two hours to do. And you’re going to tell them, this is the keyword that I wish to link back, using my logo, back to home with. And you would expect to see an increase in the ranking on your homepage. So, this is not bad news. This is actually good news. And the reality is the vast majority of people make this mistake. And so by correcting it, you’re just giving yourself a nice advantage.

Fred: That’s great. Now, the other thing I’m going to ask very selfishly, it’s because I’ve heard it from other people and want to confirm it with you is the following, which is that a lot of times people have their site set up as a WordPress blog. They’re using the blog. The WordPress is sort of their entire site, not just the blog portion of their site. And one of the things we have a tendency to do, at least some of us have in the past, is to have on the homepage, various blog titles that tend to rotate. And my understanding is that that’s kind of a dumb move, that what you should do is make sure and optimize your homepage for whatever, and pick one or two sets of keywords, no more, and try and optimize your homepage for let’s say those two keywords or two keyword strings. But if you have titles in your blog that are continually being refreshed on your homepage, it’s confusing the crap out of Google because they don’t know what to rank you for. True or false?

Ben: Yeah, that is true. And you can resolve that issue in a couple of different ways. Some people use a sticky post as the first post on their website, and they control the data around that. Some people will use a plug in to WordPress that gives them the ability to override the title tags that appear in certain places on the site. And so there’s a WordPress plug in called the all in one SEO plug in for WordPress, and it will allow you to, essentially exert the control that you want to exert, but you’re right. If the reality is that your homepage has a title tag that is changing from My Review of XY Zed to this and that, and to this and this other thing, then you’re not structuring yourself in such a way as to — You’re actually not sticking to a plan. And a plan for a website would normally look like this. It would look like, I thought about my best keyword, and I’m going to make that the theme of my website. I’ve thought about the second level of keywords, and there might be half a dozen of them or a dozen. And I’m going to make them, the keywords are like the categories at the second level of my website. And then I’m going to go for a whole bunch of what we call long tail, or third, tertiary keywords. And I’m going to publish content that goes after those. And I’m also just going to publish content that I think my clients are really interested in. If that’s not keyword rich, then I’ll live with it because I’m also trying to serve my market. And by having content volume, I’ll get links and so forth, etc. But at that theme level and at that category level, we really want our title tags and our descriptions to stay static so that we can thoughtfully go after keywords that we wish to rank for.

Fred: And the person who is, again, relatively novice in this area, they’re going to be wondering well, okay, so, if I understand you correctly then, what we’re going to do is we’re going to take our homepage, let’s say, and we’re going to try and rank that for one, maybe two keywords. Then we’re going to take our next tier of say five, maybe six or seven, keywords and use those as our categories, and then try and have those be on, again, like we said earlier, on the navigation bar. Correct?

Ben: Correct.

Fred: And so then, after that, anything after that has to do with those long tail keywords that if we get them great. If we don’t, we’re not as concerned because they aren’t our primary target.

Ben: Yeah, and to sort of pick it apart a little bit, you are exactly correct. The long tail keywords if we’re doing a, if we were building a site purely for the search engines, which by the way, you never do, and we’ll talk about that in a moment. But if you’re building only for the search engines, then the long tail would be keywords that have less traffic typically, but most of all have low competition. And so all that is required to rank for them is to publish the content and maybe do some very basic, rudimentary link building. Whereas the theme and the category level keywords, they are the bigger prize. They’re the keywords that we really want to go for. And so that would be something we would think about.

Now, at the risk of sort of pushing the intellectual envelope too far, when we talk about this theme keyword, there’s something that I want to mention, and that is that’s the keyword, or the two or three tightly related keywords that we are going for to rank on our homepage. If at all possible, it would be great to pick a keyword that has a special property, which I call future glazing property. And by that I mean, let’s say that we were going for the keyword “how to get a truck driver’s license.” And that’s, that might be from a country wide perspective a quite competitive keyword, and you’re selling a course on how to get a truck driver’s license. That leads to a criteria of acceptable competitiveness, etc. The reason that might be a great keyword is because, in our hypothetical example, it contains within it a keyword that at the moment is out of our grasp. Whilst “how to get a truck driver’s license” is acceptable, “truck driver’s license,” a shorter, much more competitive keyword, we might look at it today and say, gee, it’s got great traffic, but the competition is way too fierce, and I don’t think I can go for it. But by going for “how to get a truck driver’s license” and winning that battle, we’re actually setting ourselves up that when we’ve got a bit more, you know, when our site’s making some money, we can do some more with this, we can play the game a little bit more competitively. We don’t have to restructure our site in two year’s time to go for “truck driver’s license” because it is already backed into the phrase that we picked for the theme of our website. Now, that’s, I’ve sort of pushed the intellectual envelope a little bit. But does that make sense?

Fred: Yeah, it does, I think. Because what you’re saying is that, “get a truck driver’s” or “truck driver’s license” is almost a subset of “how to get a truck driver’s license,” and we’ve already been working on that. So, we’re at least part of the way there.

Ben: Exactly right. And sometimes you’ll have two or three different keywords. I could go for any of these as a theme keyword. They’re all relevant to my business. They’re all proven to make me money. They’ve all got good traffic volumes. You pick the one that has the subset keyword that is the superstar, because that’ll set you up for success down the track.

Fred: Well, you know, the other thing we haven’t yet talked about, which I think you were probably going to get to is this idea of backlinks. And one of the things that I recently heard, and I’ll just share it with you, and you can either refute it or agree with it, is that a lot of times people, I used to think, and many people still do think, that you have to get backlinks from sites that are relevant or in your field. In fact, when you think about it a little bit deeper, number one you want to get ranks from, links, backlinks from sites that are, that have high page rank, that are considered to be high authority. That makes sense. But then I used to hear that, well, what you also want to make sure is to get links from sites that are in your field. And I thought, if you were an intelligent competitor, you would never want to link to your competition. So, tell me about whether or not that’s true, false, myth, reality?

Ben: What I can say that is certainly true is that you can do very well, in fact you can dominate a market, by acquiring links from sites that are not directly related, that are not closely related to what you do. And in my experience, limiting your link building efforts to sites that are only directly related to what you do will handicap your link building so much that you actually won’t build any. And so, whilst I think the jury is out, the rest of the jury is out, I hear raging arguments from people who I respect on both sides of that argument. And to me, I just got down to, well, what actually works? What’s actually been successful for me, and that is go out and drive links. And one of the things that works in that space is you can do what’s called competition analysis. So, you can say, well, where are my competitors getting links from, and I’ll look and see if I can get similar links from them. And sometimes what you’ll see competitors getting links from is things like industry associations and so forth. And there is, that certainly works. I found that time required versus the number of links gained from competitively, from following the links of my competitors is okay, but I think I can get links quicker and more valuable links doing other things. So, my response to that is going to be, you can certainly do very well with general link building, and general link building to me is actually far more achievable. So that’s where I put my effort.

Fred: So, how do we do that?

Ben: Okay, there are as many link building strategies as you’ve got time to think. Let me give you, let me talk about a range of different things that you want to do. One of the things that you want to think of is just the whole notion of leverage. So, leverage would say that, sorry, an unleveraged approach to doing business or doing set market would be to say, I’m going to sit down and personally write every word that appears on my webpage. And I can squeeze out that three hours a week of my time. And I’ll probably write one article in that three hours, because I’ll write a 1,500 word article that I’ll perfect on some particular topic, and I’ll polish it. That’ll be great content. And that will be, that would not be a waste of your time, but I’ll just put it up on my website. While a leveraged approach would be to say, hey, on my way back from the swimming pool, which is what I happen to do regularly, I will record on my iPhone a dictation about a topic for which I know something, or a topic for which I’ve just seen come up in the news relevant to my industry. And I’ll record something. And I’ll then hand it off to a writing service, who for a reasonable fee will turn it into a blog post. Now I might, in fact, they might turn it into two blog posts. One blog post might be, they essentially say the same thing, but say it somehow differently. And I’ll pick the best of those two, and I will polish it up a bit, and I will put it up on my own website. So my time’s gone from three hours down to half an hour and ten minutes on the drive home in the car. But I’ve paid a little bit of money. But I now have two pieces of content. And one of them I’m going to publish on my website, and the other one I’m going to publish somewhere else. I might publish it in an article directory like Ezine Articles. I might publish it on some other websites, and there’s a whole range of sites that you can, I’ll be putting up a blog post about this in a couple of days, of different places where you can put this sort of stuff, but all to get it out there. And I might even have it written into a little report and have that, there’s different websites that will take that. And so this one piece of content, I’m going to get somebody to spread that around. And I’m going to embed in that content a link back to my website. So I’m going to pay a bit of money to have it written, so my time is saved. I’m going to pay a little money to have it syndicated, and the act of taking a piece of content and getting it out there into the world will draw links. And there are a number of different ways that you can get links. So, for example, you can take an article and have that article syndicated. And we will be, we’ve got this whole piece on getting content syndicated effectively, is something that we’re actually going to be producing a product on. So watch, we’ll be launching a product in that space. But even if you do it manually or however you do it.

Now then, let’s talk about some of the other ways that you might get it out there. You might, something that we’ve done in the past is we’ll take that piece of content, and I will read it into my computer. I might have it as a mind map or something that I’ve drawn on my computer. I’ll just read it into my computer. And I’ve got a guy in Spain who is very cost effective, and he, and I can send him the recording of me reading something to my computer. And I’ll send him my Key Note, which is the Mac equivalent of Power Point. I’ll send him my Power Point slides, just the template, and I’ll pay him to take my verbal, what I’ve spoken, and make a video presentation out of it that sounds, that looks good. He’ll find stock photography. He’ll find, he’ll put the slides together. And it might cost me, typically costs me, for a ten to fifteen minute video it costs me $250-$300, but we’ll publish that on YouTube, and I might get a writer to convert that into a blog. And so my verbal, just speaking into my computer, and sending off an e-mail with a file has then turned into a YouTube file, it’s turned into an audio file that I might publish, and I might turn it into some blogs that I’ve syndicated around. And so that one piece of intellectual property, I have essentially spread.

And it would be true to say that a large number of link building processors essentially come down to content sharing. And at the high end you’ve got really high quality content that you might share via a video, and you might create a report and put it up on Slide Share or something like that. And at the low end you might just get someone who works for you with some spare time to look through half a dozen of the really popular forums in your industry and a website like Yahoo! Answers, which is a question and answer thing, and you might go on if you’re in the tennis niche, go on, type in tennis racket and see what people are asking about tennis rackets or tennis generally, and just get yourself a list of questions and answers, and then watch those forums. And anytime somebody asks a question, you just pop in and use your pre-canned answer to answer the question. And if you’re writing short answers in forums, you actually want to reword each one a little bit because otherwise, it’s bizarre, people don’t like the question answered the same way. They want to have slightly different wording.

But what you can do is prepare a list of question and answers and put them into forums. And so this whole notion of getting your content out there, whether it’s a, just an answer to a forum, whether it’s a blog post that you syndicate as an article, whether it’s a video you put through video sites like YouTube, it’s this whole notion of getting you out into the world. That will do two things. One, humans will find that stuff and like it and come back to your website. You want to have hooks in there. You want to have calls to action that drive people back to your website. Find out more about this, visit me at, or what have you. And the, so there’s that con — there’s that human element, but it’s also that linking element. And that process of taking what you know and getting it out to the world. And it’s hardest at the start because you’ve got to get used to getting that syndication going, but once you set up the systems, it’s possible to have not too much of your effort be spread by other people. That is the most effective form of link building because it leverages what you know and gets it out to the world. Now that’s, that may be sort of a pretty foreign concept, but if you want to learn how to dominate a market, syndicating what you know and getting it out there is basically the core strategy for going out of your market from an SEO perspective.

Fred: So then, Ben, and I heard you correctly then to say that you guys and Market Samurai are going to be coming out with a product that will help me or our listeners do that?

Ben: Yeah. And I’m a little bit cagey just because we’re launching it in about, I think something like four weeks’ time. And I don’t know. I kind of don’t want to steal our thunder, but that process of effectively syndicating is a difficult thing to do. And our business model in the Samurai space is basically, value flows to the mar — Money flows to value. When you add value to people’s life, they’ll give you money for it. And so if you can solve hard problems, people will pay you more than if you solve easy problems. And a hard problem is, I’ve got this content. How do I get it effectively out there without having to break my, without having to spend hours in the syndication process. So, basically, in something like four weeks’ time, we will be releasing a tool that people can use to ease the syndication pain.

Fred: Well, that’ll — Sounds like we’ll have to do another interview on that when that, in fact, happens. So, let me know well in advance so we can schedule something to talk specifically about that.

Ben: Yeah, now that would be awesome. I feel like I’ve given you one half of the link building process.

Fred: Okay, tell me…

Ben: Have we got time to do the other half?

Fred: We do, please.

Ben: Okay, so the first part is taking what you do and leveraging it out that way. The second part is looking at that as a source of fueling social media following. So, what I mean by that is, if you’re producing good content, and you’re also syndicating it out into your social media channels, that, people will do the magic clicking of the like button or the retwit. And liking and retwitting will in essence build links for you. So, if you put content out, and you can beef it up by every time you write a piece of content on your website, having it so that people can click the like button — And I did a little experiment. I wrote two blog posts. Both of which were very, had a large volume of readership, got, one got just under 100, one got over 100 comments, but in one of them I put in a, I put a P.S. that said, hey, if you like this content, why don’t you share the love and click on the like button above. And just by asking to do that, I got, I think, 117 likes when I last looked. And on the earlier one, which had the same volume of traffic and interaction and comments and feedback, I got, I think it was less than 10% of that number. It was like, 12 or 13 likes.

So, the game with getting likes is there’s a couple of things that A. if you ask for it, if you encourage people to do it, because when somebody likes you through Facebook or retwits you through Twitter, what happens is the search engines take notice of that, but friends also see it. So, it has both a viral and an SEO value to it. And some people are going to make an argument about no follow links, and there’s a whole counter argument to that. It certainly has value. It’s worth getting your stuff into the social media spaces.

So, the first trick is to ask for it, and the second trick is when somebody comes to a page that says like this content on Facebook, and it says zero people like this, what it actually is, human psychology would suggest, it’s a social risk at that point to like that piece of content, to be the first person. It’s not a social risk to be the second, but the first person it is. And so when we publish content one thing that we’ve learned, when we publish a new blog post, three or four or five of us in the office will like our own content. And it just, it just starts the ball rolling. It just makes it socially acceptable to like this thing. And it does, I feel a little bit funny, the author of blog post liking my own stuff, but we’ve found that it seemed to get the ball rolling. So, this notion of A. getting your content out there into general channels and B. getting your content out into the social channels are two very good general purpose link building techniques. Does that sort of make sense?

Fred: Yeah, it does. It makes a lot of sense. Now, I know that we’ve probably, we’ve gone a little bit over an hour. Let’s finish up with any final thoughts that you have on how to maximize our traffic results. Anything else to tell people?

Ben: The only other thing I’ll say is when people think about lots of content, they think about, they talk about stuff from a selfish perspective. You know, if you make glasses, they’ll talk about the reason why the XYZed glass is better than the ABC glass. Whereas, if they were a content that was stuff that linked celebrities and glasses, they talk about stuff from a consumer perspective, not just stuff that really people, basically they only care about, that has a multiplying effect. The quality and the engagement factor is a message multiplier for your content as to the number of people that will link to it, etc., etc. So, it’s not, it’s a combination of volume and quality. And if you ever find yourself in that space where it’s like, well, am I going to put quality stuff out or not? I would lean a little bit more to quality and pull back (01:05:31) from volume. Not that volume isn’t important, but that quality thing is really, it’s probably the multiplier of all the other effort that you’ll do.

Fred: Boy, that’s a lot of good information. Hey, Ben, once again, thank you very much for all the info on this segment, which is on traffic. And I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from you in the future.

Ben: Fred, it is an absolute pleasure. I’ve had a bunch of fun. And, yeah, I look forward to catching up next time.

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