This guest post is by Mark Cenicola of BannerView.com.
Search engine optimization, in its most basic form, is simply a matter of combining relevant content on a web page with back links to that content.
If you want to rank high for a particular keyword phrase, that phrase needs to be the focal point of a web page and credible websites (in the eyes of the search engines) need to link to that content.
Developing relevant content is usually the easiest and least time-consuming part of the equation. Good writers can bang out great content like nobody’s business and throw it up on a web page quickly for search engines to see.
The more difficult and time-consuming part is getting other people to link to that content, which is a requirement to make the SEO magic happen. When Google sees quality websites linking to your content for particular keyword phrases, you start moving up the ranks of the search results. The higher the quality of the links you have to your pages, the better you’ll do compared to competitors with similar content, who don’t have as much credibility in the eyes of the search engines.
Convincing others to link to you can take a variety of forms. If your content is very compelling people will naturally want to link to it, but sometimes it takes a lot of writing to get the right formula for your content to be shared. What else can you do?
- You can do like I’m doing and try to convince quality publications to run your guest posts, but it takes time to build relationships, write quality content and get it published.
- You can list your website in directories and submit articles to article banks. This takes research to find the best websites that rank well and aren’t looked at as spam by the search engines.
- You can engage in conversation on forums where you have the chance to talk about your business and actively link back to your website with the hope that not all of those forums have “no follow” rules.
If you’re like me and somewhat lazy (though I prefer to use the excuse that my time is valuable and that I’m extremely busy), you could hire someone to do SEO. However, that can get expensive, and requires time to move up through the ranks since someone has to do the work of convincing others to link to your content. Even still, there’s no guarantee of success—especially if you’re playing in a crowded field with many competitors vying for the same keywords.
It would seem that only patience, time, and money will get you to rank well. However, there is another option…
My shortcut to SEO success
Yes, there is actually a shortcut to ranking well for a particular set of keywords and isn’t just theoretical, nor does it require black-hat techniques, or bribing a Google employee.
First, I’ll give you a little background. I run a web development firm called BannerView.com, located in Las Vegas, NV.
From the beginning, however, we never wanted to be seen as a Las Vegas based company, but a firm servicing clients nationally. Therefore, we didn’t overly promote that we were based in Las Vegas or make that fact prominent in our title tags, keyword phrases, domain name and other onsite content. We thought that would be seen as a turnoff to clients outside of our locale.
That strategy worked well for us in picking up business outside of Las Vegas and since we had a local sales force, we didn’t see the need to target customers geographically.
However, this strategy didn’t work as well for generating leads from our website for those companies that did see it as an advantage to work with a local firm. Of course, we still wanted to do well in our market, and the opportunity to work within our community has other benefits.
So we had a dilemma. How could we not sacrifice our brand’s integrity for SEO purposes, but still benefit from local search traffic?
To complicate things further, the competition for top keyword phrases related to “Las Vegas Web Design” was fierce. Hundreds of competitors were vying for these keywords and many have spent a lot of time positioning their websites to rank well for them. They also had the advantage of using this keyphrase at the bottom of websites that they built for clients which linked back to their home pages.
We pretty much neglected our local market in terms of search engine rankings due to these challenges until we made the decision to go for it. Thankfully, we had some luck and good timing on our side.
I decided that maybe we should just purchase a local competitor that already ranked well, and redirect their domain to a landing page off of the main BannerView.com website. This would allows us to immediately pick up a number of quality backlinks related to Las Vegas Web Design, without forcing us to change the focus of our national brand positioning.
A local competitor that owned a keyword rich domain, LasVegasWebDesign.com, as a matter of fact, had closed their operations. They were ranked high while in business, but one challenge was that they had already shuttered their website. Therefore, they no longer were ranked within the top ten results, as the site wasn’t in operation.
After doing some research, we saw that the domain still had a number of high quality backlinks that were relevant to the search terms we wanted to target. But we had to act fast—that domain could lose these valuable backlinks if the linking websites saw that the site’s owners weren’t in business anymore.
The main question was, how would the major search engines view this website after it was taken offline? Did the domain still hold credibility, or was all lost due to the site being taken offline?
Fortunately, we were able to get in touch with the person who controlled the domain name and after negotiating an offer, we took the chance and made the purchase.
Of course, going into the purchase, we had a plan to leverage its previous ranking and high-quality backlinks. We set up a landing page that was highly targeted toward our local geographic area. The messaging was specific to Las Vegas and the content made it obvious. This served two purposes:
- to attract the search engines for related keywords
- to serve as a lead generation tool for companies looking for a local service provider.
The results blew us away. After acquiring the domain, setting up the landing page, and 301-redirecting the domain, it took less than two weeks to reach page one of Google, and we were actually the number one result on both Bing and Yahoo! for “Las Vegas Web Design.”
We couldn’t have been happier and I’m sure we surprised a few of our competitors, because our page-one ranking didn’t even require that the listing be for our home page.
The blogger’s advantage
The strategy we used to jump the ranks for our local geographic search listings can be applied to any subject or geographic location.
As a blogger, you probably have even greater opportunities, especially if you cover several topics (or even a single topic), since your focus is probably less geographically specific. Your advantage is the ability to purchase a wide range of different domains that may rank high for specific keywords related to your blogging niche.
Ranking high for even one keyword phrase can give your blog an immediate boost in traffic, increase your ad revenue, and give you exposure to a larger audience.
If you want to rank well for a particular keyword phrase or set of keywords, look to your competition. Fortunately for you, not everyone is able to successfully monetize their website or blog, and that gives you the opportunity to purchase their domains and immediately get a SEO boost.
Just make sure to do your research (quality backlinks still matter) and have a plan in place prior to acquiring the domain to quickly leverage its positioning. For us, purchasing the domain, while not cheap, was worth the cost in both time and opportunity for the return on investment we gained.
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, a full service website development company focusing on helping small to mid-size businesses better use the Internet as a portal for generating business. Mark is also the author of the book “The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget.”