Deep down, internet marketing is simple.
But, being human, we prefer to make it complicated.
We do that with most things – we’re not content with our phone making calls and maybe sending texts. we want to use it to browse the web, take photos and videos (in higher definition than the camera we used to use), navigate our journeys, listen to the radio, watch television shows and much more.
The trouble is, that complicates things big time and we end up getting paralysed with our internet marketing, deer in headlights mode, and not doing the (often basic) things that will help with our internet marketing.
Whether you’re promoting your own company, a site that sells your own products or one that aims to get affiliate commissions, or near enough anything else on the web, you need to use some basic internet marketing techniques to give you the best possible chance of success.
Create content – lots of it
Content is what the web thrives on.
Years ago, you used to be able to get away with “thin” content – a few hundred words on a page would be more than enough to get shown in the search results.
And, whilst there are exceptions, that doesn’t work particularly well today.
There’s too much competition in almost every niche for you to be able to do drive-by content.
If you’re keen (or sad) enough, do a few searches in your niche, copy the pages into Word and run the word count option.
I’ve done that for quite a few of the niches I’m in my results are admittedly unscientific but other people have done the process in more depth and found similar results:
- The top pages in the search results have thousands of words on them.
- They may be dressed up to look as though they’re not densely packed with words – WikiHow is especially good at that – but a short page is usually at least 1,000 words and a more typical page is often 3,000 words or more. One page I checked recently on fear of needles had 13,500 words on it. With that length of page you can bet that they’re showing up for any and every long tail variant of needle phobia in existence.
Lots of content plays into the hands of the search engine algorithms.
It’s said that around 1 in every 6 searches have never been searched for before. They’re unique.
Google and the other search engines have to cope with that, which is why the computer programs they use are complicated.
So complicated that even the engineers who work at Google don’t know how they work.
Which is a scary thought – Google’s RankBrain algorithm learns as it goes.
And, in turn, that means you need a lot of content on your web pages and elsewhere.
Even if your natural thought is that no-one in their right mind would read several thousand words on the topic you’re writing about.
That’s probably true – I’m not delusional enough to think that everyone who lands on this page or any other page on my site will read all of it. Sure, the search engine computers will “read” it but they’re in a minority.
That’s why there are bullet points, headings and other things to help you skim the content, get to the parts you want to get to (everyone’s different like that) and skim the rest of it in case there’s something else you’d like to know but didn’t know before you arrived at a particular piece of content that you’d be interested in.
What does that mean in practice?
It means less pages on your website but each of them needs to have much more content.
So instead of having maybe 10 pages each of 500 words – something I’d have suggested at the start of this decade – you now have one page with 5,000 words. Probably split into a bunch of sections with headings and maybe even a Wikipedia style table of contents that helps visitors to your site to skip to the section they’re most interested in.
Google even does that with some search results – the description below the result often has a link to the specific part of the page that your search query relates to.
If you’re creating videos, the same logic applies.
Put time stamps in the description so that people can skip to the place they’re interested in:
Your viewers won’t have to watch the whole video to find the specific part they were interested in.
And they won’t have to go through the annoying process of clicking on the progress bar in the hope of finding the right place – something that they’re only likely to do if yours is the only video on the subject and there’s more chance of finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow than there is of that being the case. it’s not just Google’s search results that are full to capacity, the same applies to YouTube and other sites.
Use On-page SEO techniques
SEO (search engine optimisation) is a bit of an oxymoron but it still needs to be done.
If you’re using WordPress, install an SEO plugin. Yoast is annoying in terms of its nags and various other glitches but it’s still probably one of the best around. If you’ve got another favourite, that’s fine as well.
Use the options you’re given – they’re all there for a reason.
If there’s anything you don’t understand, do some quick research but be careful that you don’t get fed out of date ideas. Some things in search engine optimisation hang around for a lot longer than their real use-by date.
- Page titles are the most important part of a web page. They’re a bit like the headlines on the front of newspapers and magazines. The idea of a page title is to intrigue you enough that you’ll click on it to find out more. They’re ultra important – to the extent that Google will change the titles it shows if its computer thinks it knows better than you. If you’ve not paid much attention to your page titles before now, check them now – put in the word site: immediately followed by your domain name. The colon after the word “site” is important as well. So if you wanted to search for all the indexed pages on this site, your query would be site:trevordumbleton.com
- Page meta descriptions: these are the only part of your web pages that aren’t shown when people click through to your page but they’re an important part of your internet marketing arsenal. Most of the time, the meta description is shown in the search results (again, unless Google thinks it knows better than you do). The length of the description that’s shown has changed recently (the same has happened with page titles) and also varies according to the device the searcher is using so don’t get too hung up on this. But equally don’t make it boring. Not everyone reads the page descriptions but most people will scan them before they click. So make your description compelling enough for people to do that.
- Headlines – these come in 6 sizes with number 1 being the biggest and most important, right the way down to size 6. Most people suggest that you have one main headline (your WordPress theme may well make the page title your H1 headline) and as many as necessary of the other headlines. On this page, I’ve got one H1 and then each section that’s linked from the table of contents is H2, the second level of importance. If I wanted to use sub-sections (I don’t tend to do that) then those would be H3, the third level of importance. I’ve never really used levels 4, 5 or 6 and most sites I visit don’t use them either but they can help web designers with different styles on a page.
- Images – not my strong point and you’ve probably spotted that I don’t use them much on this site. But they can and do help with your internet marketing – the search engines will show image results if the algorithm thinks they’re relevant. There’s also a separate option to search for images. Make the file names relevant – DSC1000.jpg could mean anything whereas internet-marketing-techniques.jpg is explicit in what it’s about. Use the alt text option to further explain what the image is about and the title option so that something (sometimes) shows up when people hover over the image. All these things will help your image optimisation.
- Content – lots of content, without boring your site visitors. Split it up with short sentences and paragraphs. Use bullet points and (sparingly) things like bold text. Let your personality shine through – unless you’re a faceless corporate and I hope that’s not the case. Write naturally rather than stuffing your page with keywords because you read something about keyword density. That’s an old fashioned concept that maybe used to apply around the turn of the century but doesn’t really come into play anywhere near as much nowadays. A good test is if you read your content out loud and it sounds natural, that’s fine. But if it sounds as though a robot was trying too hard then it’s not. Use your common sense and you won’t go far wrong.
- Links – these are important. Link off to other pages on your site, products that you’re promoting and other relevant pages or videos (you can embed videos like I’ve done on this page simply by copying the URL from your browser address bar, WordPress takes care of the rest of the behind the scenes stuff. Despite what you may have read, outbound links can and do help with your search engine optimisation. Use them when they’re appropriate.
Those are the most important elements of your on-page search engine optimisation. Get all of those right and unless you’re in a super-competitive niche you’ll be far enough ahead of your competition to stand a good chance of showing up in the search results.
Remember to use videos
After written content, videos are becoming increasingly important in internet marketing.
Some people think that videos show up incessantly in the search results because Google own YouTube.
And whilst there may be a grain of truth in that, it’s almost certainly more to do with people wanting to watch videos.
Google’s algorithm checks every single click that’s made. So if videos weren’t being clicked on, they wouldn’t show up anywhere near as prominently in the results.
Videos can and do generate their own audiences. YouTube allows people to subscribe to video channels in the same way as people can subscribe to email lists or Facebook groups.
And videos work the same way as written content – longer videos.
Despite what you may have read about creating short videos because people’s attention spans are short.
That isn’t the case.
Do a search in YouTube and you’ll be shown the duration of the videos in the results.
Whilst the YouTube algorithm isn’t anywhere near as sophisticated as the Google search, it does take account of user actions.
Which means that if a longer video is shown at or near the top of the results, that’s what people are watching.
I’ve done searches recently where most of the top videos were in excess of 10 minutes long. Some were nearer 20 or 30 minutes or even an hour.
They wouldn’t show up if they weren’t getting watched – and the views for them also tell the story that they’re being watched consistently.
So don’t take the supposedly easy route of creating a short video.
Make it longer, make it interesting and put in some time stamps so that people can jump around your video to the place they really want to watch. Don’t get precious about them watching all the (boring to them) bits that they either know about already or couldn’t care less about.
One nice side effect of this is that you automatically get extra links back to your video from a trusted site (YouTube) in a way that’s not spammy and doesn’t take much effort. Which is a bonus and helps to prove that the simple things are often the best when it comes to internet marketing.
A long description helps with videos – YouTube has a character limit of 5,000 so it’s worth using as much of that as you can without repeating the content of your video itself. I’ll usually write this while the video is being processed. And, as with long web pages, there’s a good chance that it’s the search engine robots that will “read” most of the description rather than real visitors. But that’s OK, it’s all part of the technique of getting found with your internet marketing.
I’ve left this to the last point as it’s probably the most difficult part of internet marketing.
Depending on how competitive your niche is will affect how much you need in the way of backlinks.
If you’re running a local site, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to rank nicely with a few citations. Just make sure that all the details match – business name, how your address and phone number are formatted, etc. That helps the search engine computers that glue the details together to know the citations match your site.
If your site doesn’t naturally fit with citations then you’ll need to look elsewhere for places to get links.
- YouTube videos – you’re in control of the videos you put up so you can include a link back to the relevant page on your website.
- Forums – often nowhere near as important as they used to be but if you can find one where there are more than a handful of people looking and can contribute useful posts then there are usually ways to link back to your website.
- Profile links – old fashioned but used sparingly they can help with your backlink profile. Start with the kind-of obvious places like Amazon, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where they allow you to put a link in a profile. Don’t go spamming forums or other places for profile links but do check that you’ve got the (often fairly well hidden) box filled in. While you’re at it, make sure that your Facebook and other links are also added.
- Press releases – used sparingly and intelligently, these can work. Beware of services that send your “press release” (which in this instance is a thinly disguised advert) to tens or hundreds of spammy sites. Instead, do a proper job with a professionally written release and spend the money to get it on one of the major sites. Then let the natural syndication process work in your favour.
- Blog comments – again, not the spammy “nice site” comments. instead, contribute to the page and make your comment worthwhile, Ideally you want to make a comment that the blog owner responds to and maybe even other readers as well.
- Facebook, etc – social media is becoming increasingly important for backlinks. Opinions vary on how much they count towards your search results ranking but the important thing is that real people can and do click on the links, If you create good enough content it may even get shared on people’s timelines. That’s worth a lot more than most other links you could get.
Don’t sweat about backlinks too much.
Yes, they’re important.
But it’s often a case of less is more – a handful of good quality backlinks will often outperform a bunch of spammy ones that only the expensive automated program you’ve been sold (that had hype everywhere) and used will ever know existed.
Take the time to get the occasional good quality backlink – maybe in the form of a guest post on an authority site in your niche – and you’ll get the benefit.
This is maybe the most undervalued internet marketing technique you’ll ever be given.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem as though it should be in this list,
After all, what has it got to do with getting visitors to your site and making sales?
It actually has everything to do with it.
Too often, we’ll “try” one technique for a day or maybe even a week.
Then we’ll get bored.
If you’d done that when you were younger, you’d still be crawling round on your hands and knees and gurgling rather than speaking sentences.
You’d probably not be able to ride a bike, drive a car, read the words on this page or fend for yourself.
Most things take time to come into effect and that definitely applies to the various internet marketing techniques you’ll use.
Chances are that your brand new page won’t get crawled immediately. That could take anything from a few minutes or hours to the best part of a week.
Once it’s crawled, there’s a lot of back end processing that needs to be done so that the search results can be delivered sensibly in the blink of an eye. And despite your wishful thinking, yours isn’t the only new (or revised) page that the search engines have to analyse.
You’re one of several million today and there’ll be the same again tomorrow and every day after that. Not to mention the pages that get re-crawled just in case they’ve changed or have vanished.
So you have to wait your turn.
It’s one of the reasons that Google don’t do major updates very often – the last big one I’m aware of was rumoured to have taken them over a month of re-processing data, So it’s not trivial and it’s one of the reasons that they much prefer their machines to learn as much as possible.
While you’re being patient, do more of the same.
More content, more videos, more of everything.
Because if you don’t, you’ll slowly go backwards because you can guarantee that some of your competitors are moving forward.
And if you’d like to explore this further, click this link.