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SEO in the Fast Lane: Your Legit Shortcut to Readers, Sales, and Search Rank

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:

  1. to attract the search engines for related keywords
  2. 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.”

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Comments

  1. Gazzali says:

    Hi there,

    I have seen the website and signed in for a free website consultation. Though keywords is factor for blog success, but a link to the contents can be a subjective matter altogether.

    • Mark, you surely had luck in finding and buying that website. Good for you. And seems you have a new customer here now.

      Intense SEO technique was so much overly used until the penguin update came. But we can still use it in moderation, right? Quality backlinks should be achieved naturally.

      Thanks!

      • Yes, quality backlinks are key to success with SEO.

        What people don’t realize is that the Penguin update didn’t really penalize anyone. It simply devalued two things: 1) The actual text used to link to a website – it’s no longer as important that certain keyword phrases be used as the linking text since it’s more the context of the link and 2) Certain directories and websites are no longer seen as quality backlinks – this means that if you had links from these devalued websites, you didn’t get penalized, but instead don’t get as much credit.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Save yourself months or years of wheel spinning. Use SEO to drive targeted, interested traffic to your site. Smart strategy here.

    Add a few extra minutes to your work day. Drive a few hundred, thousand or more targeted visitors over days or weeks. Mindfulness. All it takes to follow a few simple SEO steps on your blog.

    Thanks Mark!

    Ryan

  3. Sounds like a good option if you can find a Domain that doesn’t cost a fortune. I suppose the bottom line is if you can find a Domain in a similar position to the one you did, Mark, is negotiating a value for money price that is relevant to where you are at the time and where you want to go in the future – as there is obviously no point in buying a Domain that half bankrupts your business, etc.

    It is another option to explore though, and as I’m new to all this is something to store upstairs in the memory bank for future use, as at the moment I’m really going the process of learning the basics about SEO.

    • We looked at the cost of acquiring the domain name as an advertising expense. We had already and would be willing again in the future to spend as much as we did advertising. Therefore, it made a lot of sense to use this strategy because instead of losing all that money as soon as an advertising campaign was over, we actually have an asset that can potentially increase in value and continue to bring additional benefits over the long term.

  4. I have a question for clarification… From what I understand, you set up a landing page on your domain and then 301 redirected the purchased domain to the landing page on your domain. Is that correct?

    • Yes, that’s correct. Keep in mind that the domain purchased much already have backlinks or traffic going to it. Otherwise, there’s little value in purchasing a name. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can buy domains with keywords in them and they will see an SEO boost. That’s not the case. It only works if there was a previous website at that domain with traffic and still active backlinks.

  5. Interesting – I’m reading more and more case studies about companies benefiting from buying good domains for sale (domains with age, backlinks and pagerank) and then 301 redirecting them to their main domain. Definitely worth some testing.

  6. KJulian says:

    Mark great article! I have a couple of takeaways here.

    The first and most obvious was to think outside of the box. Most bloggers and site owners would have continued to trying to out rank the site that was purchased not even knowing that the crew had abandoned ship.

    The second take away I received was the perseverance to be the king of your local market by any means necessary.

    The last thing was to be willing to take the financial risk not knowing 100% whether the purchase was going to allow you to reach your goals or not.

    That’s a true power move which derives from a true entrepreneur / manager.

    Thanks KJulian

    • Thanks KJulian.

      It certainly was a risk, but as I mentioned in a previous comment reply to Bonus Bagging, we were already prepared to spend the money. This looked like the least risky option so our decision was quite easy. The hard part was actually decided between this domain and another similar domain. This domain was more than double the cost of the other domain, but after careful analysis, it appears we made the correct decision.

  7. Brian Milne says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. I’ll always side with quality content leading to quality links, so I recommend spening 2x or 3x as long penning your posts, and making sure they’re unique and and post that you could see your friends sharing with their friends and social circles. Because if your content isn’t worth sharing by your friends, nobody else is going to share it either.

  8. Seriously…!!

    Look for the domain already ranked or has lots of back links but out of business, redirect it and get ranked is not the type of article I am looking to read on Problogger. Isn’t this what the WSO authors are selling to people for a long long time.

    Though it is a success on this story, there is no assurance it will work for everyone.

    I am disappointed.

    • The reality is that no SEO techniques are guaranteed to succeed and you’re right that this may not work for everyone. However, based on the research and preplanning we did, ensured that we had the best chance to succeed. It was this or spend many months and a lot of soft costs in employee staff time to attempt to achieve the same result, which also provided no guarantees of success. We took this option.

  9. Informative! but I see ecommerce websites focusing on brand building through content and getting traffic to the appropriate pages through social media signals with a less seo for the websites

    • SEO is still a powerful tool in an overall marketing strategy that does include branding through content and social media. However, search is a more direct way of obtaining business. When people are searching, their purchase intent is much higher, whereas branding and social media are less direct routes. Getting found through search usually means your more likely to convert that traffic into a sale.

  10. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Nice article Mark,

    I also think that the best way to get good search engine ranking is to get link back from high PR websites with specific keyword.

    • A. Kayastha says:

      I agree. One of my new site just got good search engine position in specific keyword. What I did was only link back from some sites.

    • That’s still ultimately the best way to get good rankings. This strategy has actually contributed to that since we’ve written about what we did and get mentioned on several quality websites with back links.

  11. Mark I had to say hello since we are neighbors ;) I live in Las Vegas. Good strategies. SEO is always something that can be tweaked especially for me. So thanks for the tips.

  12. leozouch says:

    Thanks for this nice informatiom

  13. Ryan Key says:

    Very good info, I have tried this with a client who wanted to rank for a really competitive keyphrase and the results were a top 3 serp. Using this strategy can help you achieve quick results and doesn’t effect your long tail strategy.

    Any idea how this strategy is effected by the Penguin and Panda updates?

    • Here’s how the Penguin update will have an effect. It devalued two things:

      1) Websites of poor quality – any links you had from devalued websites means you’d have less link juice passed along. However, the reality is that many of the competitors probably has similar such links so all things being equal, it could potentially be a moot effect.

      2) Linking text was devalued. For example, many people optimized specific linked text such as “Las Vegas Web Design” as the link. Google is doing a better job at looking at context as opposed to the exact text that is being linked. Therefore, if you had in a sentence, “BannerView.com provides web design services in Las Vegas,” and “BannerView.com” was the linking text, it would be just as relevant for the search term “Las Vegas Web Design.”

  14. thanks!
    very good info

  15. I am happy read a info

  16. Sumit Rawat says:

    I was wondering that, the title of the post could be much better than this. isn’t it.

  17. Thanks for the tip. I’m going to try this today!