The Deck Of Cards Principle
As far as search engines are concerned each page of your website is a separate entity and it’s contents are indexed as such. One way to think about it is like a deck of cards with your website being the whole deck and each of your pages being a card in the deck. Every other website is also a deck with its own cards. You are playing your cards in a clubroom made up of competing similarly themed websites where all the cards are mostly similar. So how do you generate more traffic to your website? To your deck of cards?
Search engines see all the cards and rank them in order for the keywords that search users enter into the search bar. Because most of the cards are similar the search engines use other factors to assist in the ranking of the cards and one of those factors is the power of the deck the card belongs to. That power comes from the connections the deck has and the respect it holds from other decks. This power elevates that card above similar cards and helps to sort out the cards position in the results.
So two factors come into play when your card ranks for a position, it’s content and the website it is part of. A strong well respected website will always get the higher position if all other factors are equal. So to stand a chance you need to be holding the strongest cards possible and this is where content is king.
Content is King
The first thing that is going to make your card stand out is content. If your page is just like all the others then it is going to be lost in the crowd. If it is a direct copy of the content of another page then the search engines will most likely ignore it, they will just say, no we’ve already got something just like that so we don’t need this one. They can also tell if your content is just a rehash of something else. If you have just rewritten someone else words just by making a few changes here and there they will know. So content is king. This means that your content needs to be unique, written by you, in your own words. Not just copied from somewhere else. Your content also has to be interesting and obviously it has to be relevant to the search phrase that someone types in.
I’m going to be a little bit controversial here and suggest that to start with you ignore keyword suggestion tools! Yes I know every possible guide to creating a successful website tells you to go to a keyword suggestion tool and to see which words and phrases relevant to your topic are being searched for, and how many times and which ones are easier to target than others. However, that is a sensible strategy, but not right from the beginning, otherwise you are just doing exactly whay everyone else in your niche is doing, and you know what, you all end up in direct competition with each other, and that is not what you want right from the start. So to rephrase Unique Content Is King!
Unique Content Is King
The way I see it is this, if you initially build your website from the words that naturally cascade from your thought processes, without outside influence, you are doing two things. One, you are setting a unique tone for your website or blog and two you are creating a natural selection of key words and phrases that match that tone. You are building your own unique deck of cards instead of replicating the others. By being unique you stand apart from the others and potentially above the other clones around you. Focus on being you and write your content that is unique to you. Think about it as a potential visitor to your own website. Do you really want to read the same things that every other website says, or would you rather read something different, something real, from someone’s genuine experiences? Search engines are just the same, they are looking for new, for different and for unique valuable information. Write for your visitor first and for the search engines second. If you do this you will slowly move up the search rankings, instead of never moving up them. Building a successful website takes one of two things, time or money, but if you spend money driving visitors to a website that provides them with no value, then it was money wasted.
Natural Search Engine Rankings
Natural search engine rankings are so much more valuable to everyone concerned than forced, faked or paid for ranking. They bring more visitors with more interest in what you have to say, yes it takes time, which is why you have to give yourself time, and invest time, but once you get there you will see how much more valuable that time spent was. In time you can start to use analytical tools to build more pages but for the first 2 – 3 months just write naturally, don’t rush it, maybe one page a day, straight from inside your own head, to give you at the end of that time 50-90 pages of unique relevant information about your niche, product or service. Let’s just touch on page length here for a moment, because it is important.
Think about this, search engine ranking is about words, yes other factors then come to bear, but if you haven’t got any words then you can’t rank for any words can you? Consequentially the more words you write, the more potential words and phrases you can rank for. So a short page that only consists of two or three paragraphs and 500 words isn’t really going to do it. It can work for eCommerce in a product description but a visitor to any other sort of page expects more and therefore so does Google and the other search engines. That doesn’t mean you just cram your page with meaningless repetition, it means that your page has an element of structure to it. It has a start,a middle, and an end to lead your reader from beginning to end.
In most cases you need to aim for a minimum of 1500 words with 2000 to 2500 being ideal. ust look at my About Me page, that’s almost 5000 words, that’s too many really, but that page is, as the name suggests, about me. It isn’t a page designed to draw visitors from search it’s just about me and my life so far, people can read it if they want to, but it’s not about this website’s subject matter. Anyway back to the topic of getting more visitors to your website. So we have talked about spending the first few months building content that is unique to you, with 50-90 pages averaging 2000 words in length, that gives you 75,000 to 225,000 words of unique to you content. Once that lot is indexed by Google you cannot help but to start getting visitors.
Getting Indexed by Search Engines
Getting indexed by search engines starts with them being able to find your website. Again the website guru’s out there will bang on about getting links pointing to your website, and they are right….but not right at the start. Building links pointing to your website is hard work, and the search engines don’t really like it anyway, they like links, but natural unforced ones. People talk about links being a vote of confidence in your website and an indication of it’s worth and again they are right..but again, not right at the beginning. Focusing on building links to a barely there, just started website is a road to nowhere. Can you imagine trying to get some well established authority website to link to your little ewbie website that has only existed for 5 minutes? Why would they, what’s in it for them? And you would drive yourself mad trying to get those links. Your time is far better spent writing good quality content, then those authority websites might just link to yo without being asked. I have had websites that national newspapers have added a link to, without being asked, just because they thought that the content would be valuable to their readers, ow that is a valuable link that was produced as a result of good, unique content. You could go looking for spammy low quality links in various forums and in replying to other blog posts, but again fairly worthless.
So how do you get indexed by search engines? Simple really you just tell them. You need Google ‘Google Search Console’. This one of Google’s many webmaster tools. You need to access it with Google account, so if you haven’t got one you will need to set one up. It’s fairly simple to do. Once you are in the Search Console, you need to add your website, or property as it is referred to here. You also need to verify that you own that website and Google gives you some options on how to do this. If you are using WordPress then there are plugins available to simplify the process,
Once you have done that Google knows about your website and will index it, and here in the search console you see it’s progress as it does so. To make it even easier and quicker you should add a sitemap. This is basically a list of all the pages that make up your website and the list updates each time you add a new page and Google keeps checking back to see if you have any new pages. As Google has various stages of it’s process.
Submitted and Indexed – This means that it has found your page and it has been indexed and will be found somewhere in the results dependent on the keywords searched for.
Crawled – Currently not indexed – This means that Google knows all about your pagebut has not as yet included it in it’s index. This is very common on new websites, especially if you are operating in a very competitive area. Essentially your page is either deemed not interesting or different enough from the other pages it already knows about or your website is just too new to warrant indexing just yet. Don’t worry about this in your first few months, as you grow and build content your pages will get indexed.
Discovered – Currently not indexed – This means that Google knows that the page exists but hasn’t yet crawled it, and it can’t index a page until it has crawled it.
It does take time to get your pages indexed particularly if it is a new website, think about the number of new websites popping up on a daily basis, all wanting their share of search engine rankings. Google only wants to show quality results and so many websites start up and then disappear almost as quickly, so Google holds back a little at first because your website might be one of those which is why you should not give up. You need to power through those first 2 or 3 months, constantly adding new original and valuable content so that Google knows that you are worth indexing and showing to its users.
Don’t be put off by the search console results because I know they can be quite disheartening. One way I get past this is to use Google site search. Go to Google and search for site:www.nickcolley.com but replace the website name with yours. This will show you how many pages are indexed and which ones. If you can get a few of your pages appearing in this way in the first couple of weeks, you are heading in the right direction. However getting indexed is not the same as getting ranked, it is just the first step. You can get indexed and never get a visitor, and that is just down to your content not being as relevant to the search term as your competitors, but just persevere and you will get there.
This is the long term view of generating more traffic to your website, not a cheap quick fix method, because cheap quick fix methods can do more harm than good in the long run. In the long run you are going to start to use the Search Console and other tools to suggest topics for new pages which allows you to grow your website organically, but more of that another time.
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