Not so long ago we had a discussion on social media on whether it's possible to promote a website without a budget, and even if the possibility to do so exists, then how to do it? The participants of the conversation were absolutely sure that they could do almost all of this work by themselves – they have necessary skills, time and will. All they’d need to achieve this is a clear action plan, a step by step list of recommendations to follow.
Well, we’ll give you that action plan, but we want to warn you. By following our recommendations,
Setting counters and collecting your main metrics
1. Register with Google Webmasters
Google Webmaster tools will help you to find all the relevant information about a website’s index, scan errors, penalties – about everything that relates to your website’s “visibility” in search engines. It’s impossible to promote a website without this tool.
2. Integrate your website with Google Analytics
3. Register on all popular social networks
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr – you must use all those networks which are popular at the present moment. Some of them will be more effective for your business, some less, but you must have an account in all of them, because you never know, what content will “blast” and where. Use any opportunity to increase coverage, test various platforms, be the first one to explore new horizons.
4. Collect all of your website’s metrics
As at the moment your task is to improve and increase them.
- The number of indexed pages in Google
The number of your sites pages and the number of indexed pages must be equal. If there are fewer pages in the index than your site has in reality, it may mean the following problems, your content is poorly optimised for search engines, you occasionally forbid their indexation, the pages are filtered and so on. The full list of reasons for bad indexation can be found here.
- Your websites usefulness from the point of view of Google
Google indexes almost all pages, including duplicate pages, technical, generated by a mistake of the CMS pages. That’s why Google has a “main index”. The main index includes only useful (according to Google) pages. You can find out what pages are valued as ‘useful’ by Google with the help of this command: site:www.site.com/&
Identifying and fixing major technical errors
Robots.txt is a file containing the parameters of your website’s indexing. It’s important for robots.txt to be correctly created. You can analyse it with help of special services. For example, this one. Robots.txt must contain several correctly compiled and loaded into the root of a site mandatory directives.
With help of sitemap.xml we deliver search engines information on what pages should be indexed and how often they are updated. Read this to learn more about building a sitemap.
7. Www to non-www (or vice versa) 301 redirect
From the point of view of search engines www and non-www domains are two completly different websites. In order to show them that these are one website to be indexed and ranked as one single piece, it’s necessary to use the 301 redirect from the secondary domain to the primary one. How to do so? Click here to find out.
If you want to know, which domain is valued as the primary one, then go to Google and enter the site:site.com/& command with www and without it, then look at the results.
In cases where search engines value different domains as primary, then analyse which domain gives you more traffic and choose the most important one.
P.S. After setting a 301 redirect, make sure that you’ve added a directive into robots.txt. Host: www.site.com (www or non-www accordingly).
8. Main page duplicates
Duplicating links to same page of a website is bad for search engines. That’s why if your main page has some duplicates (for example, http://www.site.com, http://www.site.com/index.html and http://www.site.com/index.php), then you must get rid of them immediately. Use 301 redirects again. The instructions are almost the same as in the previous point, but with few changes.
This code allows you to get rid of /index.php
This code allows you to get rid of /index.html
Use this service to generate any 301 redirect code you need.
9. Duplicated content
Use free Xenu software to find duplicated content. Download, install and launch it. Then click File – Check URL, enter your website’s domain and click OK. The program will scan your site. Choose sort by Title and check for repeating titles.
10. Noindex tag
The ‘Noindex’ tag is necessary to help search engines to orient towards certain pages – for example, not to index a menu, forms’ data and other technical information. The ‘Noindex’ tag is not very important for Google, but it still increases search engine’s loyalty a bit.
11. Human-understandable URLs
A well created URL (which is not too long and consists of clear and easy to understand words) is another factor for search engines’ to trust your website. If you use Joomla, then check out the following extensions to create human-understandable URLs – JoomSEF and sh404SEF. If you use Wordpress, do the following: go to Options – Permalinks, click the radio button and enter /%category%/%postname%/ (without the quotes) into the text field.
12. Website speed
Fast speed improves user experience, increases conversion rates and influences search engine ranking. One of the best services to find out your website’s speed and get recommendations on how to increase it is Google PageSpeed Insights.
If your website appears in SERP’s with “Warning: Something’s Not Right Here”, then there is a piece of malicious code in it. Read this to learn more about infected websites and how to cure them.
14. Penalty removal
The main trick of search engines is that they are in no hurry to inform websites owners about penalties. If you want to find out, whether your website was penalised by Google, go to Webmaster Tools – Search Traffic – Manual Actions (non-manual penalties can only be checked by yourself).
Fixing content optimisation errors
15. Textual relevance and content “usefulness”
The times, when a number of keywords influenced search engine ranking and, accordingly, traffic growth, have gone. Nowadays it has a negative impact, while the main factor is content’s “usefulness”. All published information should be useful for visitors. If a page contains walls of unformatted text filled with keywords, but users don’t read it, then a page’s (and website’s) rank is likely to decrease. Make sure your website doesn’t have content like this.
Pay attention once again, search engines don’t like articles which aren’t read by anyone. Still, they do prefer longer, useful content, so don’t limit yourself and write as much as is necessary to provide the content with an expert level of information on a user’s search query. In some cases it may have no text at all, but be visually well designed, so that a user can click a link on it and go to the next page or make some action (signing up for a newsletter, for example), but doesn’t close a tab under any circumstances.
16. Title, description & keywords tags
Each page must have a <title> tag, which is relevant to page’s content. This title is displayed in a browser’s tab, in a SERP snippet and in a bookmark’s name. It’s desirable for metatags to be unique for each page, with no repeats. The main basic requirements for title and description tags are:
- Text should be meaningful, with a few words describing a page’s content, relevant;
- There is some limitation on the number of characters: title – 50-80 characters, description – 150-200 characters. This requirement is not necessary – it just doesn’t make sense to write more, because search engines won’t index more.
Use Seo-spider if you want to check out if some of your website’s pages lack these tags. This software scans your website (or a certain section of it) and shows you all working and not working pages with detailed data. In addition to efficiency data you will also get pages’:
- H1, H2
- Number of characters
- Number of words
Seo-spider is a shareware software. The free version has cut functions and allows to analyse only 500 pages. If you have a bigger website, or if you want to stay as comfortable as possible, then be ready to pay £99 per year.
How to use it?
- Download, install and launch it;
- Enter your domain (or a necessary section) URL to the top text box and press Start;
- Choose HTML in Filter section (in order to exclude external links, image and other docs links);
- Browse between tabs and get detailed information;
- Export it to .csv if you want.
17. Alt attribute
Each image must have an alt=”” attribute, containing descriptions with keywords of an image. Some CMS make it easy – you just have to fill in a necessary form, which is usually named Alternative text or ALT. In other cases you have to write it in code by yourself. This is what it looks like:
Use Seo-spider again to find images with no alt attribute. Scan your website, go to Bulk Export – Images Missing Alt Text and save a repost as .csv file. It’s quick and easy to use.
18. H1-H6 headings
Placing your texts headings in <h1>…</h1> tags is one of the most important things for onpage optimisation. Heading’s content influence has much more semantic relevance than usual texts. Landing keywords, put in a H1, influence ranking in organic search engine results in a pretty serious way. The basic principle of correct (from the point of view of SEO) text markup can be seen on the following picture:
19. Internal links
Internal links are very important for your website ranking in search engines. Why? There are 3 reasons:
- By connecting various pages you help search engines to index your website completely. The search engines robot starts indexing, follows internal links and indexes new pages.
- Anchor links (links containing keywords) influence ranking and transmit an anchors value from a donor-page to acceptor-page. In other words, if an important (and trusted by search engines) page relates to another page with a text link; “You can learn more about a complete setup of educational institutions here”, then the relevance of the page we relate to increases for the query “setup of educational institutions”. It’s impossible to get serious results in SERPs without internal links.
- Finally, internal links are convenient for users, if they are appropriate and relevant. Internal links, correctly placed on various pages, improves indicators such as: session duration, the average number of pages viewed & bounce rate. These factors influence behavioral ranking factors. Thus, user-friendliness also influences website ranking in search engines.
20. Schema.org markup
Schema.org is the vocabulary of semantic data markup, which is supported by all major search engines. Its goal is to help search engine robots to understand a page’s content better and improve search engine results. Nowadays it’s impossible to ignore this kind of markup. According to recent studies, websites using schema.org are ranked by 4 positions (!) higher on average.
21. Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards is a free API by Twitter that allows users to exceed the limit of 140 characters and attract more traffic to your website. With help of this service you can turn your tweet into:
- A Card with extended descriptions and a small image
- A Card with extended descriptions and a large image
- A Gallery of photos with descriptions
- A Video player with descriptions
- App card
- Product card
22. Text’s uniqueness
When publishing, protect your texts’ uniqueness via Google Authorship.
Fixing main usability errors
23. Usual arrangement of main blocks
The best design is a design which is easily navigable. Make sure that all the main components are situated in their usual places.
24. Easy to read fonts
A user mustn’t feel uncomfortable when reading your website. Use simple fonts, sans-serif, non-italic, not too bold. If you want to understand if you have chosen a correct font or not, then try to read an article of around five thousand characters. Do your eyes hurt? Do you want to look away? If so then you have chosen the wrong font.
Breadcrumbs should show the full way from a main page to a currently opened one.
26. 404 page
404 page should contain something like the following information: “The page you’re looking for cannot be found, but you can start with the main page”. You can learn more about creating 404 pages here.
27. Broken links
You can find and fix all broken links with the help of the above mentioned tool, Xenu. This time click File – Check URL and enter your domain address in the top line. After Xenu scans and asks you if you need a report press Yes. In this report you’ll find all broken links and pages with them.
28. Callback/service order button
This shoud be placed in a header, a form must appear on the same page without additional reloads, and it must contain minimum fields to fill: Name*, Phone number*, Best time to call, Comment. * – marked fields are required fields.
29. Phone numbers in both the header and footer
It must be large, well contrasted with a background and with an area code.
30. “Most talked about” block
31. “Related Posts” block
32. Sharing buttons
33. Live chat consultant
Make sure to add a live chat to increase conversion rates. For example, JivoChat.
34. Useful articles
Above we have listed just a few tips to improve the usability of a website. A large number of other useful tips can be found in the following posts:
Collecting a large keywords list
35. Collecting queries related to your website
First of all you have to collect keywords related to your business. Use Keyword Planner by Google.
36. Deleting non-targeted queries
After collecting all possible keywords you have to delete unrelated keywords. It can only be done manually, and it may take a lot of time – sometimes there are few dozens of keywords, sometimes there are thousands of them.
37. Distributing them over sections and articles
After cleaning and deleting all unrelated keywords it is necessary to distribute them over your website’s sections and articles.
Why do you need a large keyword list?
It allows you to create useful and demanded content, which is responsive to a variety of specific queries, while good content improves users’ behavior and gets natural links. As a result, search engines “understand” that a website is of expert quality and rank it higher.
Content plan development
Plan thoroughly publishing regularly with different categories and types of content.
Subscribe to all interesting newsletters on your subject, read about your market as much as possible, keep up with current events. Study competitors’ websites. What do they write about? How much content do they publish? What are their most discussed articles? Talk to specialists, who communicate with your target audience. Customer departments are the best source of ideas. Read all the forums and FAQs.
40. Filtering your ideas
Think about how this or that article could be useful to your audience. Throw away all useless ideas.
41. Date planning
Think over your publishing dates. Create an editorial calendar and assign a date for each publication.
42. Read this article:
We have talked so much about content creation, so it makes no sense to rewrite our previous articles. Read our best ones.
43. Great content creation:
- Which Content Is Perceived by People as Useful?
- Attributes of Well-Working and Not-Working Text Content
- 17 Unusual Tips for Copywriters
- How to Improve Your Content Writing: 12 Tips for Copywriters
- 30 Reasons Your Content Marketing Doesn’t Work
Make sure to read this article as well. It explains a lot of things – Why Your Content Marketing Doesn’t Work?
44. Formatting and design
Your article must have a striking headline (it’s better to use at least one number and one strong adjective), intriguing introduction (with difficult questions, which will be answered after a user reads this article), creative images with captions and incuts with the most interesting ideas of an article. It’s obligatory to use a title, description, h1-h6 tags, alt attributes and internal links (for people, not for search engine robots).
45. The Best time to publish
Publish all of your content at the same time. If your content is demanded by your target audience, then you can expect serious traffic growth during these hours.
46. Infographic creation
47. Social networks
Promote your content on all famous social networks, including StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
48. Email newsletters
49. Write comments on third-party platforms
Recommend your post in comments to alike articles published on third-party websites. Try to be polite and unobtrusive. Use such phrases as, “If the admin is not against it…”, “With admin’s permission…”, “I’m sure that this article will help a lot of you…”
50. Communicate with experts
Contact experts in your niche and ask them to publish your article on their website. Explain to them, how valuable and great your article is, and what benefit they can get (likes, shares and so on).
Other promotion methods
51. External content marketing
Contact authors of resources related to your niche and negotiate about publishing materials of high quality. You shouldn’t do it to get links, but for branding improvement.
52. Write an Ebook/White Paper
Yep, it’s a very long and difficult job, but if you succeed, then your efforts will pay off.
53. Content curation
The most effective methods of content curation are the creation of topical collections, drawing parallels, summarising and provocation. Use them to drive a traffic to your website.
Read our practical guide to master newsjacking and drive tons of traffic to your website. Seriously. This method can cause a great inflow of visitors. We used it to publish an article on our customer’s website (he had an offshore registering business) about the most discussed topic at that moment – Cyprus bank crisis. Search engine traffic has grown by 3 times.
55. Interviewing experts in your niche
It is a very effective way to attract a target audience, and there is a one simple reason for it – an expert will share your interview on all social networks that they use,, so his traffic becomes your traffic. If you have never taken an interview, or your previous interview experience was bad, then read this article.
56. Leave comments on third-party sources
Leave detailed and deliberated comments, join conversations, answer all the questions you are asked, thank people for sharing your articles. The more often your photo is seen on related platforms, the better it is for you.
57. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to drive visitors to your website. If you are still not working on email marketing, then you are making a big mistake. It doesn’t take too much time to create a ‘subscribe’ form, but in the future it may become your main channel for interacting with your target audience.
58. Google+ Hangouts
With the help of Google+ Hangouts you can record and broadcast interviews, start Q&A conversations with your audience, hold conferences, publish guides and train people. It’s a very interesting tool for working with a target audience. Make sure to check it out.
59. Outbound links
60. Twitter search
61. Find the most popular articles in your blog
Google Analytics – Behavior – Site Content – All Pages. Sort by Unique Pageviews.
62. Metrics to track:
- Overall traffic
- Mobile traffic
- Traffic sources
- Bounce rate
- Visit depth
- Sessions duration
- Conversion rate
- Sales leads sources
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