Hi, hope any of you can help with this question. I used to write and publish articles some time ago and it went well. I don't know if any of you remember Squidoo, but that's where most of my articles were. I used to write big articles, write "satellite" articles (on ezinearticles and other article directories) with links towards the original article and it would rank pretty fast.
Now I noticed things have changed. How do you do promotion nowadays? More specifically, I'd like to address some numbered questions, so I can get a quick update of what still works and what doesn't. Let's consider answering in the context of HubPages hubs.
Here goes (in no particular order):
1. Is the rel="nofollow" attribute still taken into consideration? Back in the day, we used to stay away from such links since they would bring no extra "juice".
2. Are "bolded" keywords still necessary in the content body? Are they even necessary in their exact match form?
3. Are article directories still used for promotion? Which ones? Most of them use the rel="nofollow" attribute for their links. Does that matter?
4. Is a social link more "relevant" than a link coming from a page with a related article?
5. Is the alt="" attribute (on img tags) still important?
6. How does one get their page indexed quickly in a search engine, if mostly if not all links are rel="nofollow"?
7. What other sources of traffic should I focus on if SEO practices are dead?
8. I remember that submitting pages to a web directory used to matter. Does it still?
9. Can I still do keyword research, or is the "new SEO" more theme-based?
10. Can I still base some of my article ideas on Keyword Planner, or has everyone migrated to other keyword generating tools (UberSuggest, KeywordGen, etc)?
11... (Fill in any other questions you personally have here).
With regards to #9, yes, you should still do keyword research. You can write great content, but if it doesn't relate to a search phrase that people type in, you're not going to get many visits.
Google is getting much better at semantic search, so you don't necessarily have to optimize for the exact phrase. But keyword research will help you figure out what kinds of things people are searching for and write articles around those topics.
Social traffic can be a good alternative, but it's often very short term. If you share a new article with a big audience (or someone comes along and shares your article with their audience), you might see a spike in traffic. But social traffic isn't ongoing like organic search traffic is. For a personal blog that's not necessarily a bad thing, because you can convert that traffic into e-mail subscribers and bring them back.
But for a site like HubPages, I'd say the priority would be to write content about topics that people are searching for and rely more heavily on search traffic for the long term.
I would say that none of this is really relevant on HubPages these days and that's a good thing We don't have to sit around and analyze how to get our work seen for the most part. It's more about writing well-researched, well-written articles and just keeping these things in mind:
- Promotion should be organic. I promote my articles on my Pinterest and my Facebook and once in a while, in a group I'm in, only if the article is relevant. But 90% of my traffic is coming from Google, so I work to please Google.
- Searchable titles are key, keyword stuffing is not. Google doesn't like keyword stuffing since the Panda update. It does like titles that sound similar to how a person might search for something. For instance, if I want someone to find my article on how to peel an orange (so stupid, but I'm not through my first cup of coffee yet) I'm going to title it "How to Peel an Orange the Right Way" even though it's not very creative. If I were writing the title just to be creative I would title it, "The Art of Peeling Citrus and Other Things I Learned This Month" but that would make it so much harder for Google to "find" in search results.
- Again, keywords only work for HubPages if they make sense. You don't want to stuff. Don't even use a tool or program because it doesn't take into account what works specifically on HubPages.
- When you write, you're going to want to base each article on which niche site you hope it will be moved to. HubPages doesn't turn up in search results for the most part, but all of their niche sites do. Often, when I'm Googling around, WeHaveKids.com, Bellatory.com and DenGarden.com are some of the first results in search, competing with other established sites like Parents.com and GoodHousekeeping.com This is so awesome and what sets HubPages apart from Squidoo and other content mills because the quality standards here are not about creating revenue from hastily written hubs using information that can be found everywhere else. If HubPages moves an article to their niche sites they'll do it because it's an article that provides a lot of useful, quality information to the writer so Google is respecting these niche sites as valuable.
- Links are unhelpful. They'll bury your article in search results. Don't link to stuff unless you need to source it.
I hope you write lots of awesome stuff on here! I never did write for Squidoo but I'm so happy with HubPages - It's given me the opportunity to make money from home while also going to school and at this point I'm making as much here as my take-home pay after daycare would be at a part-time job, except my kids are with ME. The staff here has really taken the time and put in some serious effort to make this place a lucrative and enriching platform for it's writers and they're always working to improve the standards here so it's constantly progressing. You'll love it!
Well, I never did do keyword stuffing. Never could quite understand how one could publish something they didn't enjoy reading (who likes reading keyword stuffed content?).
So, from your reply I could conclude that I shouldn't worry about promotion, since if I write my content well enough, if it's informative, well documented and qualitative, traffic will just come somehow. I guess it's like the phrase: "if you build it, they will come"
This is good news indeed. I remember stressing about promotion quite a lot back in the day. Used article directories, used bookmarking sites and pretty much anything that would get me a precious link.
Thanks for clarifying this. Have a great day!
I hope you are right. I would rather just focus on writing good articles and let them promote themselves but it seems to me that that is wishful thinking.
Most of the SEO promotional games are dead, but there are still some elements of on-page SEO that you have to consider.
One is your title. It's absolutely crucial - it must contain a phrase that people are actually searching for on Google. If it doesn't, your article will go nowhere.
The next is your introduction. If I may say so, I think you need to work on this one. You're an IT person so I assume you know what bounce rate is? If you get a high bounce rate, your articles will slide in the rankings. So you don't want people to arrive at your article, decide it's not helpful, and click back to Google for another result.
Therefore, your introductory paragraph has to convince the reader that you can answer their question or solve their problem. Then you need to keep the momentum going, and don't be tempted to go into a waffly section that qualifies what you're about to say, or provides background info. The place for background info is at the end of the article, not the beginning.
I hope that helps.
And also, to answer your ORIGINAL question (finally on that second cup of coffee!), yes SEO still works, but it's not what it was, especially in the Squidoo heyday. What works is writing sentences and answering questions the way someone searching Google would phrase them. But keyword stuffing is no longer helpful (it will hurt your rankings).
If you're writing a help or tip guide, it's also a good idea to add a text capsule with a numbered or bulleted list of steps at the beginning of the hub, maybe after the introduction capsule. Then expand these steps further down the hub with the word "step" or "tip" or similar relevant keyword as the first word of the capsule title. e.g. "step 1: Do this...". I found that's the best way for a hub to appear as a featured snippet. This probably works also for non-tutorial type hubs and as Kierstin suggests you could answer a question "the way someone searching Google would phrase them" then provide the answers as a series of bulleted or numbered points, expanding on these further down the hub with text and photo capsules.
Noticed those nice snippets when searching for how-to stuff on Google. Never knew it was that easy to create. Thanks!
1. That was meant to "discourage" the spiders from following the links. To be honest, I don't think it did much. But it's always nice to think we're getting our juice.
2. I think you're thinking of the headings (H1, H2, H4, etc). I doubt they have anywhere near the impact that they had before. If it seems visually appropriate then use it.
3. Now that I think about it, I haven't seen one in a long, long time. The problem with them is that they tried to be too many things on one site. In a way, that is what HubPages is realizing now. So they are specializing with their network of sites. If you can get a backlink from a "specialized" site, including blogs (that specialize), then you're doing well.
4. The link is important for traffic, but not for "link juice". Traffic is important in every sense, including as SEO.
5. I think it helps. I can't confirm it though. Image repositories don't show what criteria they honor.
6. HubPages is large and established enough that they are crawled a lot by spiders. You can submit your page to some pinging sites and see if that helps. You do not have control over the sitemap here, so you really must trust that you'll get indexed as fast as possible.
7. SEO practices are not dead. Just different. And changing regularly. Focus on sharing your page(s) with audiences that would care. If you have an established, real, sizeable group of followers on certain social media sites then share with them. If you take part in communities related to your topic, then share it there (this is prob the best way), especially if you are considered something of a trusted authority.
8. No, they do not matter. Don't waste your time. All of the major ones are gone now, including DMOZ. Any new ones may actually be harmful.
9. Yes, of course. There are a variety of ways. I *had* a page, but it's since taken down, listing a bunch of ways to do keyword research. Look for Google Trends, Insights. Use Suggested Words for Google, Bing, etc. You could probably find others. Actual usage and demographics data is the best.
10. Those are great ways to do keyword research. Too bad a lot of the best data is now paid.
Well, it's good to know that I don't have to worry about all that nonsense I used to worry about in the past, and just focus on content creation.
By the way, I mentioned keywordgen because it was one of my tools I built some time ago. It's basically a Google Suggestion scraper that takes your input, generates the 10 suggestions, takes each of the 10 suggestions and generates another 10... bla bla bla ... up to 1000 results per individual search It was useful some time ago, but right now, I don't know.
I thought about building a complete tool that is free to use and returns well researched topics (searches, demographics,etc). Problem is the server costs alone would run me into the ground )
Anyway, thanks for your input. I'm glad to know the "new SEO" makes more sense from a workflow perspective.
I think the keywordgen could still be helpful. Sort of a souped up thesaurus based upon search criteria. It could be very helpful during the editing phase, since you may notice that you used certain words too often.
We are very limited as to what we can do for on-page SEO. It's best to concern ourselves with writing well and then sharing the article with others.
Do you think HubPages might be interested in buying your new application?
Hey Emanuel, yes I don't do TOO much promotion - like I said, once in a while I do share a link on my personal Facebook page or my Pinterest but most of my traffic is Google. I agree on the keyword stuffing - I always click out of articles or pages with it.
SEO still works and even Google (Matt Cutts) says you still need it. However, the technique you're referring to I think is mostly dead and can be counter-productive. The Penguin update mostly swept away excessive and unnatural link building.
However, the part of SEO that is still effective is keyword research. I'd say Keyword Planner is good for getting an idea of search volume but you have to do other research in terms of finding keywords and discerning the competition. Personally, the best keywords I ever found was from a subscription keyword tool I used to use. But there are other ways.
To tell you the truth, I'm glad they cracked down on link building. I think it was used mostly as a manipulation and was unfair to those writing exceptional content that didn't manipulate the search engine.
Thanks Nate for the reply. I remember using the keyword planner to generate lists, then using the average bid to derive commerciality. The process was tiring for just one article, but sometimes worthwhile. I also remember some market samurai or ninja or some sort. It was an all in one software for the purposes of SEM. Back in the day I used it successfully on several niches. Now I just don't know anymore. I'm still tempted of building a tool of my own, but there is no certainty anymore that any one specific direction still works for ranking / niche selection / etc.
1. Is the rel="nofollow" attribute still taken into consideration? - somewhat, but these days "nofollow" links are still worth having if they are placed where real people will click on them.
2. Are "bolded" keywords still necessary in the content body? - no, definitely not, because Google is likely to take them as a signal that you're trying to game the system, and penalize the article. It is good to have your keyword AND synonyms in your H1 and H2 headers - but again, if you repeat the keyword in every heading and sub-heading, Google will take that as a signal you're a spammer.
3. Are article directories still used for promotion? - article directories are absolutely useless now. For one thing, Google now counts only one or two links from each domain - so if there are already links to HubPages from ezinearticles (which there are bound to be), then adding more is pointless.
4. Is a social link more "relevant" than a link coming from a page with a related article? - no.
5. Is the alt="" attribute (on img tags) still important? - yes, but you can't use them on HubPages. The caption is the closest you can get.
6. How does one get their page indexed quickly in a search engine, if mostly if not all links are rel="nofollow"? - I wish I knew!
7. What other sources of traffic should I focus on if SEO practices are dead? - Write great Hubs that are good enough to get moved to the niche sites (which is where the traffic is), and wait.
If you are running your own specialist blog, then it's worth starting a Facebook page and/or Group on your specialist subject and joining relevant forums to establish yourself as an authority. But I would never go to that effort for HubPages even if I had a specialist subject, because you can't control what people do once they arrive at HubPages - they're just as likely to go off reading other people's stuff, so you don't get the full benefit of your endeavours.
8. I remember that submitting pages to a web directory used to matter. Does it still? - Nope.
9. Can I still do keyword research, or is the "new SEO" more theme-based? - Yes you can still do keyword research.
10. Can I still base some of my article ideas on Keyword Planner, or has everyone migrated to other keyword generating tools (UberSuggest, KeywordGen, etc)? - All keyword generating tools are imperfect, especially as Google has blocked full access. I use Google Suggest more than anything.
11... (Fill in any other questions you personally have here).
Link building still counts...... as does the (anchor) text that you use within your link...
But it has changed a bit and you can come seriously unstuck if your links are seen as un-natural..
If you search "click here" it used to show Adobe Acrobat Reader at the first place in any search - because there were millions of links across the internet with the anchor text "click here" pointing at the site...
There is no mention of the term "click here" on the page at all - so the ranking is only being created through the anchor text of the millions of links pointing there...
This has changed a little - however adobe is still on the first page in the top few so the links are still counting up to point the searches there.... So link building and the anchor text used still counts... But be careful out there....
Like the other folks mentioned above, I'm going to stay on the safe side. I'll try the most difficult I had to do: build articles that attract natural links
I think keyword research can be a great way to get article ideas and to focus the topic of it. There is still a place for keyword research, definitely.
Well yeah. But then again, I don't want to run into another trap of writing in overly saturated niches. Maybe demand for a particular topic can come once supply has been established? What I mean is, trying topics that nobody thought of before. Building on solutions to problems people never knew they had (until you tell them, that is )
If you think of some new gizmo or widget, let's patent and get rich. People probably never thought of the eraser before someone told them without it their lives are miserable.
The only sources of "supposedly accurate" keyword data that I know of are paid and sometimes not too cheap. I don't know how they extrapolate the data though. Having our own popular search engine sure would help.
Certainly, how about a pencil that does "edits" => it just combines the eraser with the pencil tip, so it would only word in one direction, in the other it would just erase everything you write ) Kidding.
Now I don't know keyword research tools used nowadays. Back when I did it, I used to generate a ton of keywords from a list by simply using a broad match search, then simply filter them down by the number of words (2 was hard to rank for, 3 and up was better), check the monthly searches on them, combined with bid data, then check competition for the exact match and the number of results actually shown in SERPs. That was the rule. Now, I'm not so sure it would still work. It was a lot of work to answer a simple question: "What should my next article be about?".
But if they didn't know they had problems, do you think they would look for answers to them!?
Well, without going too much off-topic, here's my answer: If people don't know they have problems, you need to educate them. Then they'll be like: "I didn't know I needed a condenser for my water distillation apparatus, but it makes total sense. Wait, I don't have a water distillation apparatus. I guess I should get one, so I can fix the hypothetical problem I just found out I had". Right?
Saturation is the main reason I don't bother with the Keyword Tool any more. My logic is, every other blogger on the planet is using it, and if we're all getting the same results, we're all likely to end up writing about the same thing, right?
One of the most successful bloggers I ever knew said she got her best ideas in Walmart. She just listened to what the other shoppers were talking about. She felt that gave her a better idea of new trends than anything.
That seems like a great idea. One small problem though. I don't have a Walmart where I live, and our stores that are Wallmart-like are mostly visited by older people (most of which have no idea what the internet is). We are still behind on many things here, so I'll just have to find another way.
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