Below are suggestions for publicizing your site — and improving its PageRank — based on our experience getting the word out about Google Guide.
Include useful high-quality information on your site.
Create content that users want and will share with others.
Submit your site to various web directories and reference sites.
A web directory “specializes in linking to other web sites and categorizing those links,” according to HighSearchRanking.com.
Post your site’s URL (web address) to popular web directories including Open Directory Project (ODP), Yahoo!, and LookSmart. Also post your URL to online reference, e.g., Wikipedia, industry-specific expert sites, blogs, etc.
Publicize your site to everyone with whom you communicate.
Add your site’s URL, e.g., www.googleguide.com, to every piece of communication you initiate. The TechSoup (The Technology Place for Nonprofits) article, Publicizing Your Web Site: Getting the message out there, recommends that “your Web address should be listed everywhere that your phone/fax number and mailing address,” e.g.,
- Business cards
- Press Releases
- Fax cover sheets
- Email signatures
Write a newsletter and send it out.
Inform people what’s new or noteworthy on your site. The newsletter will remind people about your site and encourage them to visit to find interesting content.
Provide a Rich Site Summary (RSS).
RSS is also known as Really Simple Syndication. JISC describes RSS as “a lightweight XML format for distributing news headlines and other content on the Web.”
In addition to making it easy for other sites to distribute your headlines and content, your RSS feed will be indexed by popular Blog search engines, including Technorati, BlogSearch, and Ask.com Bloglines.
Ask other high-quality websites to link to your website.
Getting other “good” websites to link to yours usually helps your website’s PageRank and ranking on Google.
Note: If your site links to delisted websites, your website might also be removed from Google’s index.
Provide motivation for highly ranked websites to link to yours.
Getting highly ranked sites to link to yours will improve your ranking more than getting many poorly ranked sites to link to yours.
Note: If Google suspects that you’ve traded links with other sites for the sole purpose of improving your ranking, it might penalize or blacklist your site.
Check out a site before you link back.
When you receive a request for a link, check the site before you link back. Is it a site worthy of your link, i.e., vote of confidence? Would a link be of value to your page’s visitors?
Tell the press about your site.
Telling the press may not get your website publicity. After making Google Guide live, I emailed local, national, and international press and got a poor response to our publicity.
Next I emailed journalists who specialize in search engines, but again few wrote articles about Google Guide.
Then I emailed reviewers of books on using Google. A handful responded. Some wrote that Google Guide was for novices; others wrote that Google Guide was tailored for advanced users. Wanting to make Google Guide appeal to novices and experts alike, I indicated sections that would appeal to particular users, e.g.,
- If you have little or no experience with Google, read on. Otherwise, skip to the next section, titled “Go to the First Result.”
- We recommend that you skip ahead to Part II: Understanding Search Results unless you’re an experienced Google user or you want to know how to use Google’s advanced operators.
After several months of emailing potential users and posting to websites, libraries, schools, and users began linking to Google Guide.
I tried again to get national press coverage by contacting John Markoff from the New York Times. After a few attempts, I was quoted in an article about Search Engine Wars and afterwards Google Guide got over 50,000 unique visitors/day for the following week and traffic has been good ever since.
On the basis of a suggestion from Matt Vance, I created the Google Guide Cheat Sheet and announced it on Slashdot, which generated great publicity, along with a few flames; within 24 hours, the Cheat Sheet went from being ranked so poorly I couldn’t even find it to being ranked #2 (after Google’s cheat sheet).
Keep your website up.
If your website is not accessible for an extended period of time, Google may reduce the ranking of your site.
Give away content.
I publish Google Guide under a Creative Commons License to enable others to copy, distribute, and make derivative works, as long as they give Nancy Blachman credit and link to Google Guide.
If most of your site’s content is commercial — e.g., pages about your business — consider adding other pages with useful information for the public. For example, if you sell bicycles, include pages or a blog about bicycle paths, bicycle gear, or with tips on bicycling. Publicize these and encourage others to link to them.
Translate your website into foreign languages.
If you don’t know a foreign language, find others that do. Erik Hoy, a librarian, emailed me asking if he could use some material from Google Guide on Copenhagen Main Library’s website. I suggested that he translate the whole thing into Danish, which he did.
Recently Google Guide was translated into Hebrew.
Search Google for your website.
Instead of entering your URL into your browser, search Google for your site. Google is more apt to improve the ranking of a site that users seek and visit than one that gets no traffic from Google.
When I first made this site publicly available, Google Guide wasn’t in the first 100 sites on searches for [ Google guide ]. Thanks to the sites that linked to Google Guide and users who clicked on Google Guide in their search results, Google Guide is in the top ten results for many queries that relate to the content of the site. Being listed so highly on Google has improved the traffic flow to Google Guide.
Note: For the top ranked site, Google sometimes includes useful links from within that site.
Avoid devious tactics to improve your ranking.
If Google suspects that you are trying to deceive it web crawler and thus its users by including hidden text, misleading or repeated words, pages that don’t match your sites description, deceptive redirects, duplicate site or pages, or other disingenuous tactics, then Google may delist your site from its index.
In addition to considering the number of links to your page and the ranking of the linking page, to compute a page’s PageRank, Google considers hundreds of factors including
- how fast a site is gaining links
- how long the links persist
- when your site acquired the links
- the click through rate (CTR) of Google’s search results, cached pages, favorites on the Google Toolbar
- the stickiness of your site (i.e., the effectiveness of your site in retaining individual users)
These factors and many others are described in the article “Great Site Ranking in Google The Secret’s Out” on Buzzle.com.
Google periodically changes how it calculates a page’s importance, thereby resulting in shifts in rankings, known as a Google Dance. Google Guide’s placement in Google’s search results sometimes changes when Google modifies or enhances their indexing algorithms.
I don’t try to keep up with the latest search engine optimization tricks. Instead I strive to make searching Google easier by educating users about Google services, capabilities, and features. When I am successful, sites link to Google Guide pages and increase their ranks and importance to Google.
Here are links to a few pages that discuss how to publicize your website and improve the ranking of your web pages.
In the next section, Advertising Your Website, I’ll tell you how I increase traffic through running inexpensive ads.
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