I work for LBM Marketing in Cheshire and we recently launched Watch My Wallet, a new consumer advice, moneysaving tips web magazine.
When I studied SEO and social media marketing at Salford University for three months back in 2012, I learned a few useful strategies for optimising websites, especially content. This is important because Google puts new websites in a kind of sandbox – a holding pen if you like – while it works out how trustworthy, useful and original your content is.
Obviously factors such as the structure of the site, clean IP address and many more are important, but nothing helps to boost your site’s early page rank so much as links via social media, news outlets or getting individual articles ranked highly on commonly searched keywords.
START WITH A PLAN BASED ON HUMAN NATURE
People search for a variety of reasons but using Google Insights & Trends, setting up Google Alerts, using Rippla to gauge newsworthy stories and many other tools will help you form a plan for your site itself and the content within its pages.
For example we researched pet insurance terms, listed the top keywords over 3-12 months, checked typical `modifiers’ and cross-referenced that with news stories.
We found that Lloyds TSB withdrew pet cover for older pets in Feb 2012, plus we saw `reduce pet food bills’ was a common search phrase. We put them together and three weeks after launching the site, we had position 1, page 1 on google for our article.
OK, it isn’t always that easy – we didn’t get that lucky with every article, but we did get page 1 results for seven articles within 17 days after launch – got to be happy with that
PR STILL HAS VALUE
We had a low budget PR campaign, based around syndicating press releases about topics such as `saving money on travel into London for Olympics 2012.’ That got us a backlink from the San Francisco Chronicle and other newswire services within a week of being sent out.
As petrol prices increased and the tanker drivers strike caused more searches for reducing driving into London costs, we found the original article on `cheapest ways to drive into London‘ picked up more interest through late March. That was lucky, sometimes Google works out like that.
Links from major news sites are worth having. Why? Well when your website is new you have to prove to Google it isn’t a scam/pills/porn site – it has to build trust and authority, partly through decent quality link traffic. Newspaper, radio and good blog links matter, so devote some time and money to chasing them.
GO SOCIAL, TRACK LINKS
We established Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and Facebook pages for Watch My Wallet. Facebook performed the best in terms of referral, closely followed by Twitter. Open a bitly account and shrink your page urls, bitly will track visits by each article or feature link for you – you can compare those to your Analytics stats.
Google + is really only worth doing to please Google by the way. It’s like a gym; many people are members, few actually use it.
We found the `8 Ways to Reduce Your Pet Food Bills’ story performed well on social media, especially Twitter. This kind of story gets people talking, so use that `Twitter rage’ factor to get links to your content. My personal feeling is you should NOT automate Twitter content, but put the man hours in.
Be a real human, be nice, it gets a better quality follower and that’s what you need to convert people in the long run. Your brand values MUST be paramount, not your follower numbers.
USE A CMS THAT IS CUSTOMISABLE
One final point; your content CMS must – absolutely MUST – have the facility to add keywords and a unique keyword description for each article or story. Tag photos and videos too, never miss a chance to define your content. It works.
Our Watch My Wallet developer has chosen Umbraco and it is performing well. Easy to use when uploading a variety of features each day too with details like default sizes for images within stories. Anything that makes your site look professional builds reader trust, so use a good CMS.
If you have any SEO tips for brand new websites, post them below – I’m always keen to learn more! ;-)