Larry BraunerSearch engine optimization professionals usually have a few tricks up their sleeves. Of course, they want to generate lots of website traffic for their clients or employers.

Most so-called SEO tricks are actually legitimate techniques for tackling complex search problems, while some, like the recent JC Penney website traffic scheme — no, Penney didn’t purchase this link from me :-P — are totally reprehensible.

Every sordid detail of the JC Penney search scandal — and how JC Penny allegedly racked up much unjustified website traffic during the holiday shopping season — are spelled out in Dirty Little Secrets of Search on the NY Times website.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Google “changed its mathematical formula late Thursday in order to better weed out ‘low-quality’ sites that offer users little value,” said Amir Efrati in Google Revamps to Fight Cheaters on the Wall Street Journal website. Hopefully, Google’s new algorithm will improve its search performance and deliver traffic to deserving websites.

My Dirty Little Secrets of Search and Website Traffic

My Dirty Little Secrets of Search and Website TrafficLike other webmasters and website owners, I too want to generate truckloads of website traffic, and as you might guess, I have a bag of tricks at my disposal — my dirty little secrets of search.

I share with you four of my top secrets of search and website traffic:

  1. Help the Search Engines - Lay out your site, tag your images and your posts, and embed your internal and outbound links in ways that make it easy for search engines to determine the subject, thesis and nuances of each of your articles.
  2. Help Readers - Write articles that are easy to find and read. Doing so will help your readers and help you remain honest with your on- page search engine optimization.
  3. Don’t Cheat - As much as you’re anxious to get more website traffic, don’t do anything on-page or off-page that you wouldn’t be willing to shout out to Google, because the search engines are listening. All your tricks should be legit. If you buy links, buy relevant links from reputable sites and directories. Avoid any form of linking scheme.
  4. Keep it Simple - If you can’t explain your strategies and techniques to an intelligent layperson, they’re probably too complex. Seek ways to simplify your approach.

Honesty and transparency are at the core of my dirty little secrets of search and website traffic.

Search gurus will likely call my way simplistic, but it has permitted me — with plenty of hard work posting content, of course — to take a new watch company website from 0 to 75 search visits per day in only 12 weeks with more web site traffic on the way.

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20 Responses to “My Dirty Little Secrets of Search”

  1. Jack Goldenberg on February 27th, 2011 10:30 pm

    Honesty. What a policy.

  2. Randy Brickhouse Sr. on February 28th, 2011 1:37 am

    Thank you for reminding us that the best policy is to just do what’s right, and it will work in time. Even though it may be tempting, I’ve read enough of the stories to know that it’s just not worth it.

    God bless

  3. Rajesh on February 28th, 2011 4:31 am

    Agree with you. Remember Google is God of Internet. They will know what you are doing. Be fair to your readers.

  4. Kathy McNamara on February 28th, 2011 9:26 am

    These are 4 great tips and seem fairly easy to implement on my blog. I look forward to more valuable tips to come. Thanks for sharing! Kathy

  5. Brad on February 28th, 2011 10:34 am

    Thanks for the great tips Larry. You mention some may think they are too simple. Who cares. If they work and are simple, the point is they work! I’m wondering if you could go one step further. We are constantly reading posts like this that offer tips. For some of us novices, the tips are great, but we still don’t know how to implement them, and that’s what really counts. Could you, for example, give us a visual example of your first tip “Help the Search Engine.” A sample post along with a screen shot of the SEO, the image tags and content tags. What does it look like to embed your internal and outbound links properly? Guidance like this would be most helpful, unless it is really giving away the secret! Thank you.

  6. Dave Lucas on February 28th, 2011 1:56 pm

    Larry, I’m wondering what you think of MyBlogLog shutting down?

  7. Larry Brauner on February 28th, 2011 3:55 pm

    @Brad Perhaps I’ll do that in the future. Here are some SEO tips for another blog that are a little more detailed:

    - All you need to do to have a site optimized for SEO
    - The Best Tips To Write a Search Engine Optimized Content

    @Dave I think I’m going to miss the inbound links.

  8. Eric : Manila Blog on March 1st, 2011 10:55 pm

    I’m actually writing a post about JCPenney and I saw your post about it.

    Thanks for sharing your “dirty little secrets of search”.

  9. Chrystal on March 2nd, 2011 1:31 am

    You’re so wise. People have been trying to convince me to try all sorts of crazy stuff for years. I am just plugging away - hard work always pays off. I have lots of REALLY strong links and I got them the honest way. The cream always rises to the top… you just have to be patient. Thanks Larry. It’s good to know that there are some SEO experts our there that are not SNAKE OIL salesmen.

  10. Dave Lucas on March 2nd, 2011 8:25 am

    Hey Larry! I am a firm believer in “intricate linking”

    This technique delivers a slowly rising payoff… I don’t use it often but it still delivers me at least two or three hits a day from a 2006 post!

  11. John on March 4th, 2011 11:07 am

    Hey Larry,

    I completely agree with your point that honesty and transparency are the best secrets of search.

    A lot of search gurus will make SEO seem like a complicated puzzle, but if you keep things simple I think you will be able to accomplish a lot.

    Thanks for sharing the article on the NY times on JC Penny, I will definitely check that out.

  12. Online marketing Calgary on March 4th, 2011 12:30 pm

    Nice article. Clean and simple. Play by the rules and all will be ok. Actually the incident with JC Penny showed that there are ways to get out of the hole if your site was penalized. That’s the lesson I took out of it. If your site gets penalized, make sure you clean up the mess and apply for reconsideration through Google Webmaster. Thanks for the article!

  13. Larry Brauner on March 4th, 2011 1:24 pm

    I agree Alex. That is an important lesson here.

  14. New Website Traffic Case Study, Watch Company, Weeks 1-13 | Online Social Networking on March 6th, 2011 8:52 pm

    […] My Dirty Little Secrets of Search […]

  15. Debby Bruck on March 28th, 2011 2:04 am

    Hello Larry. Sounds like steering the boat on an even keel with consistency and an even pace with your eye on the horizon pays off for you. Each day writing blogs that are linked to all your networks and friends’ networks and back to the target bring up the Page Views.

    Obviously, the topic must be worth reading, otherwise, they’ll bounce off. The catch must be ‘fresh of the day’ that swim into your net. The bait must be tasty with valuable content.

    I need to swim along these shores more often because of these great tidbits.


  16. Rebecca Wolf on June 7th, 2011 4:25 pm

    So sad that when folks get all focused on making money, the content on their website suffers and they’ll go with anything or anyone who promises to deliver them “fast and easy” traffic. Ain’t no such thing; it’s all hard work!

  17. Martin K. Melanson on August 1st, 2011 9:22 pm

    Rebecca has a point. Content is compromised when blog owners all want to generate income. My dirty little secret is creating informative, honest content for my website.

  18. Alex on September 14th, 2011 10:25 pm

    Great information. I believe black hat techniques for traffic are usually short lived and not worth the risk. As you said following the basics and making things very simple for google is the best approach. and like the others said in the comments above having great content for your readers is probably the utmost important thing for long-term success.

  19. Rich on November 7th, 2011 7:37 am

    Nice article. Its terrible that a corporation as big as JC Penny should resort to black hat techniques.

  20. Timothy on December 25th, 2011 12:28 am

    Black hat techniques are a big NO! If Google sees you employ them, it will penalize you. I agree with Martin that informative, honest content is what works best.

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