Larry BraunerYou’re creating content for your blog or website. You can create content haphazardly, or you can laser focus your web content to advance your site in the search engines.

A website consists of one or more web pages. Search engines index web pages individually.

For each keyword phrase that you care about, create a web page on your site dedicated to that keyword phrase alone.

Your Keywords Don’t All Need to be Popular

For example, your company name is probably a low volume search term, but it’s meaningful to you, all the same. It’s you who decides which keyword phrases deserve focus and assign each of those phrases its own page, either a static page or a blog post.

Real Time Web AnalyticsIf your website has been online for a while and you notice from your web analytics that certain pages are already receiving substantial traffic for certain keyword phrases, then those pages are evidently already focused on their associated keywords.

Throughout your site, link occurrences of your keyword phrases to their associated web pages, thereby helping those pages gain authority and climb the ranks of the search engines. When generating external links into your site, make a keyword phrase your anchor text and link to that keyword’s special page.

Edit Previously Published Blog Posts

Don’t hesitate to edit your previously published blog posts. If they’re your pivotal keyword pages, try hard to enhance them. However, review all your pages and update their links in order to sharpen your site’s keyword focus.

Stick with it, since search engine optimization takes time. However, with consistent effort, you’ll dominate the search engines one keyword phrase at a time.

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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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Larry BraunerThe social media and web marketing space is evolving, and we must therefore continually revise our social media and web marketing strategies and techniques.

Here are several cases in point that affect social media and web marketing practice, especially for small business.

Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking

FacebookFor years, Facebook was an open social networking site that permitted members to befriend people whom they didn’t know despite mounting privacy concerns.

However, in 2010, Facebook tightened its friending policies in order to combat phishing and spamming practices.

It appears that Facebook now evaluates friend requests based on degrees of separation and profiles users who repeatedly go out-of-bounds, restricting their friending capabilities.

Consequently, we must regard Facebook as a closed networking site going forward, despite the Facebook Freedom to Share and Connect principle, and find approaches to building our Facebook networks that don’t raise red flags.

Hello Ning Open Networking

Ning Social NetworksSince the Ning shift earlier this year from free or paid networks to paid-only networks, protest from disgruntled free-site creators has subsided and, as promised, Ning has come through with improved functionality upgraded periodically.

While Ning cannot compete with Facebook based neither on popularity nor functionality, Ning is nevertheless a great platform for creating niche social networking sites and for open networking.

I’ve dedicated the Small Business Network, my own Ning networking site, to the pursuit of open social and business networking, and I would be delighted if you would join me there.

You can still share via broadcast any of your Ning content, like blog posts or pictures, with all your Ning friends, a feature not found on the Facebook or LinkedIn social networks.

Search Engine Optimization Still Pays Big

GoogleNotwithstanding my remarks in The NEW Search Engine Optimization, search engines are still the mightiest source of website traffic, and SEO is still the most vital web marketing activity.

Social media sites send thousands of visitors per month to Online Social Networking. However, Google and other search engines send much more. Having a website or blog site and optimizing it for search engines and humans is of paramount importance if you want to market successfully on the web.

Put website development and optimization at the very top of your to-do list for 2011.

Please accept my sincere wishes for a healthy, fulfilling and peaceful New Year. I look forward to growing and sharing with you in the years to come.

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Larry BraunerTwitter and LinkedIn partnered last fall enabling you to automatically tweet your LinkedIn status and to post your Twitter tweets on LinkedIn.

However, I envisioned a much more significant integration of the two social media sites than merely enabling users to cross-post with ease.

I predicted in Top 10 Reasons Why the Twitter LinkedIn Partnership is Big News that the integration of Twitter and LinkedIn would reduce an enormous amount of content by functioning more or less like a Twitter list containing members of your LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn Signal Beta

With the recent release of LinkedIn Signal Beta, unveiled at TechCrunch Disrupt, a fuller integration of Twitter and LinkedIn is already at hand.

LinkedIn users will be able to search Twitter using keywords and filter the results by degree of connection, industry, company, time posted, region, school and hashtags.

To increase its integration with Twitter, LinkedIn needed the Twitter handles of its users, in order to identify relevant tweets within Twitter’s database. LinkedIn obtained the needed Twitter handles by encouraging users to avail themselves of the initial integration and by letting them display a Twitter link on their LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn Signal New Twitter Search Engine for Business


Uses for LinkedIn Signal

LinkedIn Signal will make LinkedIn the Twitter search engine of choice for business users. At the same time, LinkedIn Signal becomes a powerful online networking tool. You’ll easily see what your connections are tweeting, and you’ll more readily find new people with whom to connect.

LinkedIn is already the business networking site of business networking sites. Now, as a powerful Twitter search engine for business too, LinkedIn is the go-to social website for all hoping to transact business on the web. You’re welcome to connect with me there: www.LinkedIn.com/in/brauner

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Larry BraunerI obsess over my website search engine ranking and check my keyword search engine rankings more often than once a week. After all, who doesn’t want to achieve higher search engine rankings and get more web site traffic?

However, top search engine ranking isn’t everything. There is much more to search engine optimization than merely increasing a website’s search engine ranking.

Get More Web Site TrafficYour website can have a top Google search engine ranking yet not receive its fair share of traffic or receive insufficiently targeted traffic, which is also bad.

As I pointed out in a comment on 5 Steps to Make Wordpress an SEO Beast, an excellent article on the StylyzedWeb blog, you can be at the top of the search engines, but if too few people click through to your website or the wrong people click through, you can’t say that your site is search engine optimized.

A page’s title and description in its header often determine exactly how that page will appear in the search engine results and how likely searchers will be to click through to it. Header tags need to be optimized not only with search engines in mind but with people in mind too.

Search engine marketers are keenly aware of this issue, and search engine optimizers need to be equally aware.

Furthermore, if ample targeted visitors do come to your website, but your site is ineffective because of its content or design, then all your efforts to attract search engine traffic or any other traffic have been for naught.

Optimizing your website’s keywords to obtain a top search engine ranking is important, but the appeal of both your search engine listing and your actual website to your target audience are at least as important and should not be neglected.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated as usual. :-)

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Larry BraunerHow well is your blog or website performing?

This past November, I wrote, “Some web sites clearly have it together. They have lots of traffic and appeal to visitors.

“Other sites aren’t bad. They have good potential. With a few tweaks here and there, they could enjoy much more traffic and appeal much more to their audience.”

Blog or WebsiteI listed 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog or Website and indicated that there might be more suggestions to follow.

Here then are ten more tweaks (presented as problems and fixes), bringing the total to twenty. Hope they’ll keep you busy for a while. ;-)

  1. Key Content Hidden “Below the Fold” - You have seconds to capture a visitor’s attention. If visitors need to scroll down to view vital content, you’ll most likely lose them. Similarly, if you have an important widget, such as a Facebook fan page widget, place it where it will be visible without scrolling down.
  2. Long Flash Intro - I hate sitting through flash intros designed to impress. Don’t you? Why would you want to subject your visitors to long (or even short) flash intros? Flash intros are dead time. Why not instead impress visitors with your knowledge and the relevance of your content?
  3. Clutter - Some websites have too much going on; they look like patch quilts.  Others have ads that fill every nook and cranny. What can I say? Such sites are overwhelming.
  4. No Call to Action - What do you want your visitors to do when they visit your site? To buy? To subscribe? To leave a blog comment? Let them know what you expect, and if your request is reasonable, they may very well comply. If you don’t ask, they may not know what to do, and they’ll leave, perhaps forever, without taking action.
  5. Distracting Ads - Pop-up ads, blinking ads, glaring banners, sexy ads, scripts that forward to advertisers’ sites after a few seconds, inappropriate auto-playing audio, etc. I dare say, these are “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Make sure your ads don’t interfere with your content. If your ads are your content, then please disregard everything you’ve ever read on this blog.
  6. Images Not Labeled - Make your visitors and the search engines happy. Whenever possible, describe your images using alt and title parameters in your img tags. If all this is gibberish to you, worry not. Your web development or HTML guru will know what to do.
  7. Hard to Navigate Site - Don’t confuse your visitors. Keep your website simple and provide a site map if you can.
  8. Difficult to Understand - Write for your audience. Not everyone will have an advanced degree, some could have nothing or as little as a certificate from an online school – unless of course such people are your target audience.
  9. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes - There ain’t no excuse for bad spellin and grammar.
  10. Stale Content - Fresh content is good for SEO and for attracting repeat visitors.

Implement as many of these ten website improvements (and the ones listed 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog or Website) as you’re able to.

How time flies! Already, we’ve come to the part of the blog post where people usually leave a well thought-out comment. :-D

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Larry BraunerIn 8 Simple Ways to Penetrate Social Media Clutter, I recommended  that you leverage multiple traffic sources. In Looking for Traffic in All the Wrong Places, I gave you a partial list of the places I look to get more website traffic.

Based upon Google Analytics data pertaining to my recent blog visits, bounce rates and average time on site, I present my top 10 blog traffic sources along with some notes on each:

  1. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing - They account for 35% of my traffic. When my blog was new, I didn’t get any search engine traffic at all. Now, however, I get 5,000 visits from searches per month — including business people seeking precisely the types of services I offer. The credit goes to search engine optimization and to a growing reservoir of content.
  2. Entrecard, a traffic exchange for bloggers - Admittedly, Entrecard provides me with lots of worthless traffic. Fortunately, however, the site provides me with some great traffic too and an opportunity to build key relationships with other bloggers. One of my favorites at Entrecard is Gera from Uruguay, owner of the Sweets Foods blog. He and I are now also connected by email, Facebook and Twitter. As with all other traffic sources, to benefit from Entrecard you’ll need to make a long-term commitment to developing it.
  3. Twitter - I’ve written at length about Twitter. Read Twitter Stats Defy Measurement. I’m happy to have started with Twitter in 2008 when Twitter’s rules didn’t get in the way of building a large following. Today, different tactics are necessary to connect with your target audience. Start by encouraging your website visitors and friends on social networking sites to follow you on Twitter. Then gradually introduce new Twitter tools into your mix. My favorite tool, Tweet Adder, which I use daily, is worth the small investment.
  4. Facebook - I turned my attention to Facebook in June 2009 and experimented with the NetworkedBlogs application, which may have introduced new readers to my blog, but proved to be a poor source of ongoing traffic. On the other hand, profiles, fan pages and events showed themselves to be excellent traffic sources. It seems to me, so far, that Facebook fan pages are very effective as a form of web site subscription.
  5. Ning social network - I’m sorry to report that Ning has morphed into a host of unrelated niche sites. If you have your own Ning site, or a group or lots of friends on someone else’s Ning site, you can use that site to move traffic. As with Twitter, getting started with Ning is harder than it used to be, and the marketing benefits are fewer. I belong to many Ning sites and have several of my own. My primary Ning site is Small Business Network.
  6. Business Exchange - Discovered this social bookmarking site recently and wrote about it in 12 Tips for Using Business Week’s Social Bookmarking Site. I’m hoping that Business Exchange will help me generate a lot of high quality traffic in the year to come.
  7. Blog Catalog - If you have a blog and decide to use BlogCatalog, start your own group there; make many friends on the site and invite them to join your group. Those who join are interested in you and your group’s theme.
  8. StumbleUpon - Planning to learn much more about StumbleUpon and use it much more this year. I’ll keep you posted.
  9. LinkedIn - While well connected on LinkedIn, I’m not using it much at present. Most of my LinkedIn traffic is coming as a result of the Twitter LinkedIn integration.
  10. Ryze - Here I first encountered online social networking back in 2003. I  find Ryze very underwhelming in 2010. The traffic I get from Ryze comes from posting in groups, which are really forums.

I believe that Blogger is sending me websitetraffic because of Google Friend Connect. Also, I heard a rumor that Yahoo! is dumping MyBlogLog. Will let you know about both of them.

You made it all the way down here. Why not scroll down a drop more and leave a comment? ;-)

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Larry Brauner
The Global Map of the Social Web, newly published by Trendstream, illustrates country-by-country the already enormous Web 2.0 footprint.

Not surprisingly, the rapid increase in social media usage has generated a corresponding increase in blogs, videos, photos and other social media content.

For you and me as social media consumers, our choices seem endless. New content is created at a daunting rate. Conversely, as content producers, we find it more and more difficult to penetrate the growing social media clutter.

This competition among sites and content will further intensify over time. We therefore need to find ways to compensate and stay consistently in front of our intended audiences. Here are eight ideas that can help:

  1. Build a Large Web Presence - Search engines and plain old geometry will work on your behalf. The better you do in the search engines and the more social media territory you can effectively cover, the more exposure you will receive, both in reach and frequency.
  2. Leverage Multiple Traffic Sources - Using many traffic sources will help you create a large web presence, and you’ll benefit in other ways too. Read Looking for Traffic in All the Wrong Places.
  3. Develop Relationships - Engage with those who engage with you. Not only will they keep coming back, but so will the people who enjoy the conversation but remain silent. Focus on helping by letting people vent or by providing helpful information. Be social!
  4. Offer Many Ways for Friends to Subscribe or Follow - People will naturally connect through more than one info stream. E.g., I’ve set up a blogcast, an RSS feed, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and profile, a NetworkedBlogs page, my own Ning site, a LinkedIn profile, a Business Exchange profile, a BlogCatalog group, and half a dozen other ways to keep in touch. Each one has throughput of one to ten percent, but collectively they all add up. That’s how social media list building needs to work. An RSS feed alone is insufficient.
  5. Be Reliable and Consistent - Do what you say you’re going to do, and publish new content as consistently as possible. Being somewhat predictable will help people get to know you and will build trust.
  6. Promote Others - Say good things about your readers, link to their content, and link to the content of others in your industry. Be a team player. Goodwill is an invaluable asset.
  7. Focus - Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everything to everybody or by trying to be active on many social networking sites. Concentrate on communicating your brand and message to your intended audience.  Get the most you can from the time and effort you invest.
  8. Collaborate - Strategic alliances and synergies are a big part of my plan for 2010, and perhaps they ought to be part of your plan too.

How do you penetrate social media clutter?

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Larry Brauner

This is an article about how to get more web site traffic. Unlike most articles discussing how to get more website traffic, this article focuses on optimizing sources of website traffic rather than optimizing links or keywords.

I’ve had some success getting web site traffic. Admittedly, I may never catch up to Seth Godin whose blog currently ranks 6,028 in Alexa for traffic. However, my blog did recently pass 50,000 in Alexa after a couple of years blogging.

Get More Web Site TrafficFriends wonder what I’m doing that they’re not, and whether they’re looking for website traffic in the wrong places.

Hard work and consistency are certainly key success factors, and I am hard working and consistent. I’m also very hard thinking, and I’ve concluded that there aren’t right and wrong places to look for traffic, and that diversifying traffic sources is a critical strategy for achieving long-term success. Most web site owners don’t diversify enough.

Rationale for Diversification of Traffic Sources

It’s true that some website traffic sources deliver greater, higher quality and better targeted website traffic than others. It’s also true that some traffic sources are less time consuming and easier to use than others. Nevertheless, 80/20 rule notwithstanding, to rely only upon your best website traffic sources is a questionable strategy for at least seven reasons:

  1. Quantity - Obviously, using more website traffic sources tends to generate more web site traffic. While some website traffic sources aren’t as efficient to use as others, their website traffic is no less valuable.
  2. Stability - Using more website traffic sources reduces risk and increases stability. Putting all your social media eggs in one basket is risky, since social media is in a constant state of change. We often see social networking sites rise and fall in popularity and even disappear completely. Search engines are also unpredictable. They can revise algorithms or remove web sites at their discretion. My strategy has allowed me to adapt gradually to changes over time.
  3. Opportunity - Testing to uncover the best approaches is a widely accepted marketing concept. Using more website traffic sources, you find opportunities you would otherwise miss. You also increase your chance of getting lucky.
  4. Diversity - Using multiple traffic sources, you can reach audiences that are more diverse and richer from a marketing perspective.
  5. Frequency - Using many website traffic sources, you tend to reach people more often which helps you build your relationships with them more effectively and reinforces your messages.
  6. Synergy -Some website traffic sources complement each other and create synergy.
  7. Latency - Some website traffic sources require persistent usage before they yield results (e.g. search engines) or the source itself may not have matured (e.g. Twitter).

Places I Look to Get More Website Traffic

Without going into detail, a partial list of sources that have recently helped me get more we site traffic are: search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) Entrecard, Twitter, Ning sites, Facebook profile, Facebook page, Facebook NetworkedBlogs, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, BlogCatalog, Google Friend Connect, and other blogs.

While you can use my partial list of website traffic sources for starters, you’ll need to develop your own long list of sources that’s geared to your audience and your marketing strategy.

I’ve intentionally excluded video websites such as YouTube from my list for now, but in all likelihood it will be on yours. Furthermore, I don’t generally buy website traffic, but it might make sense for you to do so.

Okay. We’ve reached the point in the post where you usually comment. Please share your favorite traffic sources and ways you like to get more web site traffic. :-)

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Larry Brauner
Like you, I typically visit many blogs and websites each day.

Some websites clearly have it together. They have lots of website traffic and appeal to visitors.

Other websites aren’t bad. They have good potential. With a few tweaks here and there, they could enjoy much more website traffic and appeal much more to their audience.

I promised myself that I’d write up some suggestions for improving blogs and websites. I realize that while much is possible, we can’t hope to do everything. We need to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on strategies and techniques that are easy to implement yet promise substantial benefits:

  1. Make Your Text Easier to Read - Some months ago, I noticed that my blog’s text wasn’t visually sharp enough. It was difficult to read. Upon examination, I noticed that the font wasn’t quite black, and the background wasn’t totally white. The links were grayish. After a few minor theme changes, the color scheme was improved. Low contrast combinations or light text on a dark background always require extra effort to read.
  2. Optimize for Human Eyeballs - A site’s title tells search engines and their users what the site is about. The title is the bold headline in search engine results. Using keywords in your site’s title can help you rank higher for those keywords. Recently, I changed the title of my blog hoping to rank higher on more keywords, and my traffic fell. The new title was unfortunately less relevant and less appealing to my potential readers. I changed my title back, and traffic rebounded. The takeaway: Optimize for humans, not just for search engines.
  3. Use Headings to Break Up Long Articles - Headings break up an article into sections and help make the article easy to scan and read. Limiting paragraph size helps too. Headings, however, like titles, can tell search engines what an article is about and are an excellent place to insert your keywords.
  4. Link Out - I provided a rationale for linking out to other sites in The Blogger’s Guide to Links and Comments: “Use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.” The advice in that article applies equally to blogs and conventional websites. Unless you’re linking to ads, use only dofollow links.
  5. Link Internally - This can be huge. Linking internally increases a site’s circulation, and it increases the perceived relevance of both the linking page and the page linked to. Link to another page or article on your site when you have the opportunity. In a blog, you can even link to a tag, as I often do. A blog site map such as the once generated by the Wordpress plugin Really Simple Sitemap makes it easy for visitors to find a blog’s archived content. I use internal links on my blog nearly everywhere, even in places which aren’t obvious.
  6. Be Social - Adding a social dimension to your web presence makes you real and credible. Join all the major social networking sites, and let visitors know how they can connect with you. Google Friend Connect and Facebook NetworkedBlogs widgets add sociability to your site and enable readers to publicly endorse you. Bloggers can join blog networking sites as well such as Technorati, Entrecard, BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog.
  7. Make Subscription Simple - Make it as easy as possible for readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Blogs should offer subscription by both email (using a service like Aweber) and RSS (using a service like Feedburner). I’m always amazed when I have to hunt for a way to subscribe to a site.
  8. Use Social Bookmarking - Make your content easier to find and, as is the case with some social bookmarking sites, create quality links into your blog or website. Some of the social bookmarking sites I use are Digg, Delicious, Propeller, Reddit, diigo, Jumptags, Google Bookmarks and iZeby.
  9. Encourage Comments - Not only do I generally ask readers to comment, but I comment back as well whenever it’s appropriate.
  10. Extend Your Domain - If your domain will expire with the next twelve months, you might be signaling to search engines and savvy visitors that your site is only temporary.

I’ve omitted other ways that you can improve your website, because they’re harder to implement, and because they’ll give me something to discuss in a subsequent article. ;-)

In any case, we have our work cut out for us. :-)

What do you think?

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