Having a beautiful website is all well and good, looking amazing is one thing, that one thing is not going to bring business to your door. Oh, no! It takes quite a bit more than looking beautiful in the online world. I am currently in this situation, I have created what I believe is a beautiful site – maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I do love it! Attracting people to the site has been about so much more than the way this site looks though. So I did some research (aka, I studied the leaders in my field, researched, did training, will do more training) so that I could learn and also bring this article to you – so here it is, my learnings on How To Increase Traffic To Your Website For Free.
As you can see from this image below, there is a variety of angles we can look at this from, these are all sorts of ways to attract traffic to your site. It looks a lot more complicated than it is – I promise. Trust me when I say this, even I am able to get a grasp of this concept, and I am not technical at all. Let’s continue …
Two Colours and Two Hats –
These expressions or phrases may or may not be new to you, they are important so I am going to share them – this way we will all be forearmed and forewarned!
There is more than one form of SEO, actually, I have stated Two in the header above, there are in fact three. The third will unfold as we go through this article. There is White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. In case you are unfamiliar with what SEO is, this stands for Search Engine Optimization and is all about the likes of Google, Yahoo and Bing finding your website and your articles. If you meet the criteria we are about to discuss, your articles and site will receive favorable rankings from the search engines – you got it, that is Google, Yahoo and Bing. Why do you need to receive favorable rankings? So that all your hard work is recognized by the search engines and placed in prominent positions online. Ever noticed that when you do a search, Google something for example, up pop a few options? Well, that is the ranking of articles that have been written by the hard-working online community. Below is a snip of an example:
As you can see, I have Googled “best places to live in the world” and right at the top you can see there are 2 120 000 000 results (in 0,66 seconds! holy moly!). Clearly the folk who are working on “thestreet.com” are doing an exceptional job of their SEO because they came up in the top spot – very clearly in the top spot! That is Rank Number 1 on the First Page – a highly coveted position in online business circles!
Under that you will notice that Google gives a list of options of what “People also ask”. This is clever, very intuitive, because Google is now giving you other ways to search the same question, just using different wording. That is not why I did this search though so I am going to get another screen grab for you further down the search page, and we can discuss that.
Google also gave suggestions of “What are the 10 best places to visit in the world?”, “Which is the most beautiful place in the world?”, “What are the best places to travel?” and “Where is the most beautiful place to live?”. Those are also great options to search on, only I wanted answers to my question of “best places to visit in the world” for this demonstration so persisted with that. As an aside, why do you think this is a search i would be interested in? Yes, you’ve got it – the travel bug has bitten me, this is why my site is all about creating a life of financial and geographic freedom. If you are keen to work and travel, these two articles will appeal to you too: How To Work and Travel – Edition 1 and How To Make Money Online and Travel The World. Back to topic now, I may just be the “queen of digression” Haha! Bear with me now.
The next in rankings are as follows:
Rank No. 2 “The World’s 30 Best Places to Visit in 2018-19” by travel.usnews.com
Rank No. 3 “World’s Best Vacations” also by travel.usnews.com
Rank No. 4 “50 Best Places To Travel in 2019” by travelandleisure.com
Rank No. 5 “21 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Visit” by forbes.com
Rank No. 6 “36 Best Vacation Spots in the World” from thestreet.com
These are highly respectable positions, I would be delighted to hold any one of those spots on Google ranking. I digress though, the purpose of the exercise is to show you what it means to be ranked by a Search Engine. I hope this has been a good example for you.
Now we understand what ranking means and, I am sure you get the importance of it. Let’s have a look at some techniques that will get us ranked – the good, the bad and the ugly!
White Hat SEO – The Good / Black Hat SEO – The Bad / Grey Hat SEO – The Ugly
I often like to know the origin of things to I looked up where the terms White Hat, Black Hat and Gray Hat SEO come from, this is what I found:
“In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology, white hat SEO refers to the usage of optimization strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and completely follows search engine rules and policies. … Also, called Ethical SEO. ”
“Black hat SEO refers to a set of practices that are used to increase a site or page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service. The term “black hat” originated in Western movies to distinguish the “bad guys” from the “good guys,” who wore white hats (see white hat SEO).”
“Gray Hat SEO is an SEO practice that’s riskier than White Hat SEO, but one that may or may not result in your site being banned from search engines and their affiliate sites.”
Pretty cool to see the origins and explanations wouldn’t you say? I definitely want to be one of the “good guys” online, how about you?
Let’s have a look at examples of the different colour hats, we’ll start with White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is the best way to get your site ranked, not only is it the best way because it is ethical, but it is also far more sustainable that Black and Grey hat SEO tactics. White Hat SEO tactics may take longer to get your article and site ranked with the search engines, but one thing is for sure, your ranking will remain and so will your site. Let’s get into the different White Hat tactics to employ:
- Provide value to your reader – make sure you create an article that provides the best information you can fine and ensure the article is a good 1500 to 2000 words worth of article. Don’t be shy with the amount of words you use, Google likes to know that you have done your homework and you are providing the viewers with as much valuable information as possible. Do not be tempted to bulk up your article with nonsense to increase the words, your readers will become disinterested in what you have to say and will leave your site. This is not a good thing.
- Backlinking – there are good and bad ways to do this, we are talking only about White Hat SEO here, so these are the good ways to do the backlinking. Social bookmarking is the way to go. You write your 20000 word blog, post it and share it to Facebook, Twitter and the LinkedIn – make sure you share it with a decent amount of value on the link too. in other words, a little blurb telling your viewers on the different platforms why they want to read the article. Something like” Hey, have a look at this, the best ways to get your articles ranked by the search engines” for example. I could also add something along the lines of “Don’t get caught with your Black Hat in Hand, understand the difference between White and Black Hat SEO, it is a matter of life and death for your website”. See what I mean? Write something compelling and interesting to get your viewers to open up the link. You want them to visit your website and spend some time there – Google will love your site for that!
- Guest Posting and Forum posting – look for different message boards and forums online and provide value to the others in there. When a question is posed for example, and you know the answer (ensure you can offer value here), share the information freely. This will give you credibility and offer you the opportunity to share the link for your website, again, attracting visitors to your site.
- Research online and follow other blogs and sites, especially those related to your niche. Give the author of the site/s reason to word with you by writing a valuable and detailed comment (almost blog) comment on their site. The likelihood is very high that the webmaster will approve your comment, and give you a backlink. Again, more viewers guided to your site.
- Guest Posting – this is another way of doing things too. You’ve done your homework and found other sites and blogs similar to your niche, why not email to the author and ask to share an article? Just be sure to write a very strong article, ensure that you offer a huge amount of value, and be sure that it is unique – this cannot be an article copied off your website. If you do that, Google will de-rank the article! Be warned here! Ask the site owner to post your article to their site and then give a backlink to yours. This will work for both of you and is a great White Hat tactic to get your sites ranked highly with Google.
Black Hat SEO
These are tactics you want to avoid. The advantage of Black Hat SEO is that your articles can be ranked extremely quickly with Google and other search engines. The disadvantage – and this is huge, so pay attention – is that you will lose rank extremely quickly once Google is onto you. Please, do not underestimate the intelligence of Google, your misdemeanors will be picked up, it is just a matter of time.
The worst thing that can happen is your site will be DE-RANKED meaning no-one will ever be able to find your site again. if that happened to me, I would be devastated, there is a huge amount of hard work and love that goes into our website – all of that would be lost by taking a chance with Black Hat SEO tactics. Do not fall into this trap.
So, now we have been forewarned, let’s look at what is considered Black Hat SEO:
Keyword stuffing – A lot of work goes into finding keywords that rank highly. Keywords are words and phrases that are frequently used by viewers when they are searching online. An example of Keywords is my title: How To Increase Traffic To Your Website For Free. I researched this title with my favourite Researcfh Toll (which you can read all about here. It’s FREE, why not give it a whirl?). As online marketers we need to make use of keywords to get our site ranked, Keyword Stuffing, is not making use of Keywords, it is packing your article with the keywords to “conn” Google into thinking that this article is worth ranking. Again, caution is essential, Google is highly in tune as a search engine, and is always mutating and developing. Keyword Stuffing – using the same keywords over and over and offering no value to your reader will only result in your article and / or site be de-ranked.
Spamming – This is when you write an article and then just send the link out all over the internet. Never a good idea. Same with emails. It’s illegal to spam out information to all and sundry. Google will certainly penalise you for this. Now, don’t misunderstand here, you are within your rights to share your articles on your social media : Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc., But do not be tempted to just spam out the link to all and sundry.
Gray Hat SEO
I looked up another description of Gray Hat SEO for us to consider, this is what I found on wordstream.com:
“Gray Hat SEO is difficult to define. In the words of SEO Consultant John Andrews, Gray Hat SEO is not something between Black Hat and White Hat, but rather “the practice of tactics/techniques which remain ill-defined by published material coming out of Google, and for which reasonable people could disagree on how the tactics support or contrast with the spirit of Google’s published guidelines.” https://www.wordstream.com/gray-hat-seo
We need to be more cautious of Grey Hat SEO because it could look OK, but in fact is not. As you can see, this is “tactics/techniques which remain ill-defined”. I am too much of a goodie-two-shoes to go there. I just hope and pray that Google recognizes that! So, what constitutes Grey Hat tactics?
Cloaking – This is the practice of showing online users a different result than what is shown by the search engine. How is it done? By modifying meta information and tampering with a website’s IP address. As I have already told you earlier, I am not technically minded so this is not something I could do with ease. I would not be tempted because the risk of losing my business is far too high. My recommendation to you, especially if you do know how to do this with ease, is avoid it at all costs!
Using Old Domains to Send Backlinks – It goes to show that I certainly do not have the mind to carry out Gray Hat tactics, I believe that is a blessing. it would not have occurred to me to do something like this. But clearly, there are folks who have tried. it is a trick that can be picked up by Google, so not worth attempting.
Purchasing Links – I would not even know where to go to purchase links but apparently this is something that can and has been done. From research i see that once you are caught buying links, everything you have invested in will become a big fat zero! Not worth it at all.
Buying Followers – Now this is something I have heard of. I won’t say from where, but I have seen advertising that offers followers for sale. Buying followers is in fact a trick, what this does is mislead others into thinking that a site has a lot of followers, that they in fact do not have. No value here either. Stay away from this ruse!
The title for this article is How To Increase Traffic To Your Website For Free, That has been answered in the options listed under “White Hat SEO”. As I mentioned in that section, it is very important to deliver value to your readers. I trust you can see that I have done my utmost to over deliver in this article. I could just have written about the best ways to work and avoided sharing the dodgy options of Black Hat and Grey Hat SEO. I decided rather to overshare here. i hope that you have benefited from reading this article and look forward to hearing about any experiences you may have had – good, bad or ugly!
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