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Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone

26 steps to 15k a day.



12:20 am on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

In another post Google as a Black Box [webmasterworld.com] Giacomo proposed that we talk too much theory and not enough application of it. So, lets skip the theory and get to what I know works from time proven methods on Google. I know the following system works 100% of the time with Google to attain rankings across a wide range of keywords. This is what I do with clients to build a successful site and has worked every time. The level of success will depend largely on the subject matter, it's potential audience, and it's level of competition on the net.

The following will build a successful site in 1 years time via Google alone. It can be done faster if you are a real go getter, or everyones favorite a self starter.

A) Prep work and begin building content. Long before the domain name is settled on, start putting together notes to build at least a 100 page site. That's just for openers. That's 100 pages of real content, as opposed to link pages, resource pages, about/copyright/tos...etc eg: fluff pages.

B) Domain name:
Easily brandable. You want "google.com" and not "mykeyword.com". Keyword domains are out - branding and name recognition are in - big time in. The value of keywords in a domain name have never been less to se's. Learn the lesson of "goto.com" becomes "Overture.com" and why they did it. It's one of the most powerful gut check calls I've ever seen on the internet. That took serious resolve and nerve to blow away several years of branding. (that is a whole 'nother article, but learn the lesson as it applies to all of us).

C) Site Design:
The simpler the better. Rule of thumb: text content should out weight the html content. The pages should validate and be usable in everything from Lynx to leading edge browsers. eg: keep it close to html 3.2 if you can. Spiders are not to the point they really like eating html 4.0 and the mess that it can bring. Stay away from heavy: flash, dom, java, java script. Go external with scripting languages if you must have them - there is little reason to have them that I can see - they will rarely help a site and stand to hurt it greatly due to many factors most people don't appreciate (search engines distaste for js is just one of them).
Arrange the site in a logical manner with directory names hitting the top keywords you wish to hit.
You can also go the other route and just throw everything in root (this is rather controversial, but it's been producing good long term results across many engines).
Don't clutter and don't spam your site with frivolous links like "best viewed" or other counter like junk. Keep it clean and professional to the best of your ability.

Learn the lesson of Google itself - simple is retro cool - simple is what surfers want.

Speed isn't everything, it's almost the only thing. Your site should respond almost instantly to a request. If you get into even 3-4 seconds delay until "something happens" in the browser, you are in long term trouble. That 3-4 seconds response time may vary for site destined to live in other countries than your native one. The site should respond locally within 3-4 seconds (max) to any request. Longer than that, and you'll lose 10% of your audience for every second. That 10% could be the difference between success and not.

The pages:

D) Page Size:
The smaller the better. Keep it under 15k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 12k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 10k if you can - I trust you are getting the idea here. Over 5k and under 10k. Ya - that bites - it's tough to do, but it works. It works for search engines, and it works for surfers. Remember, 80% of your surfers will be at 56k or even less.

E) Content:
Build one page of content and put online per day at 200-500 words. If you aren't sure what you need for content, start with the Overture keyword suggester and find the core set of keywords for your topic area. Those are your subject starters.

F) Density, position, yada...
Simple old fashioned seo from the ground up.
Use the keyword once in title, once in description tag, once in a heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic, once high on the page, and hit the density between 5 and 20% (don't fret about it). Use good sentences and speel check it ;-) Spell checking is becoming important as se's are moving to auto correction during searches. There is no longer a reason to look like you can't spell (unless you really are phonetically challenged).

G) Outbound Links:
From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).

H) Insite Cross links.
(cross links in this context are links WITHIN the same site)
Link to on topic quality content across your site. If a page is about food, then make sure it links it to the apples and veggies page. Specifically with Google, on topic cross linking is very important for sharing your pr value across your site. You do NOT want an "all star" page that out performs the rest of your site. You want 50 pages that produce 1 referral each a day and do NOT want 1 page that produces 50 referrals a day. If you do find one page that drastically out produces the rest of the site with Google, you need to off load some of that pr value to other pages by cross linking heavily. It's the old share the wealth thing.

I) Put it Online.
Don't go with virtual hosting - go with a stand alone ip.
Make sure the site is "crawlable" by a spider. All pages should be linked to more than one other page on your site, and not more than 2 levels deep from root. Link the topic vertically as much as possible back to root. A menu that is present on every page should link to your sites main "topic index" pages (the doorways and logical navigation system down into real content).
Don't put it online before you have a quality site to put online. It's worse to put a "nothing" site online, than no site at all. You want it flushed out from the start.

Go for a listing in the ODP. If you have the budget, then submit to Looksmart and Yahoo. If you don't have the budget, then try for a freebie on Yahoo (don't hold your breath).

J) Submit
Submit the root to: Google, Fast, Altavista, WiseNut, (write Teoma), DirectHit, and Hotbot. Now comes the hard part - forget about submissions for the next six months. That's right - submit and forget.

K) Logging and Tracking:
Get a quality logger/tracker that can do justice to inbound referrals based on log files (don't use a lame graphic counter - you need the real deal). If your host doesn't support referrers, then back up and get a new host. You can't run a modern site without full referrals available 24x7x365 in real time.

L) Spiderlings:
Watch for spiders from se's. Make sure those that are crawling the full site, can do so easily. If not, double check your linking system (use standard hrefs) to make sure the spider found it's way throughout the site. Don't fret if it takes two spiderings to get your whole site done by Google or Fast. Other se's are pot luck and doubtful that you will be added at all if not within 6 months.

M) Topic directories.
Almost every keyword sector has an authority hub on it's topic. Go submit within the guidelines.

N) Links
Look around your keyword sector in Googles version of the ODP. (this is best done AFTER getting an odp listing - or two). Find sites that have links pages or freely exchange links. Simply request a swap. Put a page of on topic, in context links up your self as a collection spot.
Don't freak if you can't get people to swap links - move on. Try to swap links with one fresh site a day. A simple personal email is enough. Stay low key about it and don't worry if site Z won't link with you - they will - eventually they will.

O) Content.
One page of quality content per day. Timely, topical articles are always the best. Try to stay away from to much "bloggin" type personal stuff and look more for "article" topics that a general audience will like. Hone your writing skills and read up on the right style of "web speak" that tends to work with the fast and furious web crowd.

Lots of text breaks - short sentences - lots of dashes - something that reads quickly.

Most web users don't actually read, they scan. This is why it is so important to keep low key pages today. People see a huge overblown page by random, and a portion of them will hit the back button before trying to decipher it. They've got better things to do that waste 15 seconds (a stretch) at understanding your whiz bang flash menu system. Because some big support site can run flashed out motorhead pages, that is no indication that you can. You don't have the pull factor they do.

Use headers, and bold standout text liberally on your pages as logical separators. I call them scanner stoppers where the eye will logically come to rest on the page.

P) Gimmicks.
Stay far away from any "fades of the day" or anything that appears spammy, unethical, or tricky. Plant yourself firmly on the high ground in the middle of the road.

Q) Link backs
When YOU receive requests for links, check the site out before linking back with them. Check them through Google and their pr value. Look for directory listings. Don't link back to junk just because they asked. Make sure it is a site similar to yours and on topic.

R) Rounding out the offerings:
Use options such as Email-a-friend, forums, and mailing lists to round out your sites offerings. Hit the top forums in your market and read, read, read until your eyes hurt you read so much.
Stay away from "affiliate fades" that insert content on to your site.

S) Beware of Flyer and Brochure Syndrome
If you have an ecom site or online version of bricks and mortar, be careful not to turn your site into a brochure. These don't work at all. Think about what people want. They aren't coming to your site to view "your content", they are coming to your site looking for "their content". Talk as little about your products and yourself as possible in articles (raise eyebrows...yes, I know).

T) Build one page of content per day.
Head back to the Overture suggestion tool to get ideas for fresh pages.

U) Study those logs.
After 30-60 days you will start to see a few referrals from places you've gotten listed. Look for the keywords people are using. See any bizarre combinations? Why are people using those to find your site? If there is something you have over looked, then build a page around that topic. Retro engineer your site to feed the search engine what it wants.
If your site is about "oranges", but your referrals are all about "orange citrus fruit", then you can get busy building articles around "citrus" and "fruit" instead of the generic "oranges".
The search engines will tell you exactly what they want to be fed - listen closely, there is gold in referral logs, it's just a matter of panning for it.

V) Timely Topics
Nothing breeds success like success. Stay abreast of developments in your keyword sector. If big site "Z" is coming out with product "A" at the end of the year, then build a page and have it ready in October so that search engines get it by December. eg: go look at all the Xbox and XP sites in Google right now - those are sites that were on the ball last summer. Like [vrcast.com...]

W) Friends and Family
Networking is critical to the success of a site. This is where all that time you spend in forums will pay off. pssst: Here's the catch-22 about forums: lurking is almost useless. The value of a forum is in the interaction with your fellow colleagues and cohorts. You learn long term by the interaction - not by just reading.
Networking will pay off in link backs, tips, email exchanges, and it will put you "in the loop" of your keyword sector.

X) Notes, Notes, Notes
If you build one page per day, you will find that brain storm like inspiration will hit you in the head at some magic point. Whether it is in the shower (dry off first), driving down the road (please pull over), or just parked at your desk, write it down! 10 minutes of work later, you will have forgotten all about that great idea you just had. Write it down, and get detailed about what you are thinking. When the inspirational juices are no longer flowing, come back to those content ideas. It sounds simple, but it's a life saver when the ideas stop coming.

Y) Submission check at six months
Walk back through your submissions and see if you got listed in all the search engines you submitted to after six months. If not, then resubmit and forget again. Try those freebie directories again too.

Z) Build one page of quality content per day.
Starting to see a theme here? Google loves content, lots of quality content. Broad based over a wide range of keywords. At the end of a years time, you should have around 400 pages of content. That will get you good placement under a wide range of keywords, generate recip links, and overall position your site to stand on it's own two feet.

Do those 26 things, and I guarantee you that in ones years time you will call your site a success. It will be drawing between 500 and 2000 referrals a day from search engines. If you build a good site with an average of 4 to 5 pages per user, you should be in the 10-15k page views per day range in one years time. What you do with that traffic is up to you, but that is more than enough to "do something" with.



8:24 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks a million Brett. Class.

Webmasterworld: best board on the net.

brotherhood of LAN

10:04 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

excellent post, as mentioned once or twice ;)

Brett, consider that someone has followed your guidelines and has a site with 10-15K page loads a day

Perhaps you could write a 'small' article about "sustaining" a site?

i.e. the thing I have most in mind is $$$

Im not looking to make extortinate amounts from my content, but thats what my site is all about....content

I break even with the rev i get from a well known 3rd party banner ad server

Just thought you could share your pearls of wisdom in regards to "sustainability" :)

Thanks for the above info


11:14 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month


Thank you for so succintly pointing out to me just how thoughly off track I've been ..... :)


11:52 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sorry for probable bugs in my English (I'm Russian). Join to the rest: excellent as usual. Thanks, Brett. I've only one question to ask.
>>J) Submit
Submit the root to: Google, Fast...
A few months ago I've read somewhere (sorry, can't remember exactly for sure) the opinion - you AREn't to submit a site to G. (more - this could hurt you!) - you are to take care about DMOZ instead, and G.'d take care about your site after this. What do you think about this? Thank you.


12:38 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


As usual you have defined it well.

I can vouch for this, as I have the NUMBER 1 listing in google for many of my search terms. It took 8 months. BUT, the last 4 were the important ones....that's when I found this website.

Not only am I number one, but I'm getting e-mails REQUESTING my rates to advertise on my site!

An item to consider when you are looking to get advertisors is a 'trade'.

By this I mean: "I'll advertise for you if you give me this product/service for free." It works well for them because it shows you are interested in their product/service.

I don't mean to go off on a tangent....but these 26 steps not only work for a business, but for a hobby site as well, and the perks are pretty nice.

26 steps, and Google loves you:>)

Well done Brett!


1:05 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks, Brett! As always we can depend on you and the rest of the long time members to set a clear path for us. Very much appreciated!


3:37 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Brett, I would like to ask a question if I may.

I have a site with thousands of quality content pages, which all rank well in google.

I use subdomains and do a lot of cross linking.

The site also has a lot of frames pages that link out to various affiliate sites,- obviously these pages have no content.

Does every page on the site need to have quality content and do non quality content pages have a negative effect on PR?


3:51 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

>I use subdomains and do a lot of cross linking.

Sounds like a good recipe for future disaster. I don't think you should use 3rd level subdomains today.

They'll be at least a dozen counter responses to the following :-)

-engines loath 3th level subdomains. You have to be a pretty big site to sustain 3rd level domain.
-some engines have been known to ban hosts with 3rd level domains for no other reason than they are 3rd level domains.
-stick to domain.com and www.domain.com and that's it.
-if you have 3rd level domains, get rid of them.

The amount of spam that flows from 3rd level domains have turned them into the pariah of se's. Wild card dns, round robin dns, and virtual hosted sites have made 3rd levelers a lost cause for se's to attempt to sort it (even if innocent, they call 3 levelers "dns spam" in almost any and all forms). So they do what they always do, they draw large brush strokes to get rid of them. It's hard to sort out goodguy.domain.com from badguy.domain.com, but it is very easy to say "delete *.domain.com".

Only Google seems to deal with them properly for the most part. They are dealt with as separate domains. The value today of 3rd level domains is less than zero. If you are _not_ doing 5k or more a day in se referrals now, nuke 'em.

Lastly, don't use frames. SE's don't care for frames and don't index them properly. Every study on useability of frames show a wide segment of users don't care for them, don't understand them, or consider a site "broken" that uses them. They are chopping 30-50% of your page views right off the top before the word go. People see frames and hit the back button.

>every page quality content

Not every page. Sure you are going to have some traditional mandatory pages (contacts, about, generic info, sign ups, resources, and a few index pages that are navigational only...etc). I'd keep those under a dozen.


4:04 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lawman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'm in the beginning stages of creating a sister site to my present site. I'll probably use the same guy I used to design the original. I'm emailing him the URL to this thread!



4:04 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

W) Friends and Family
Networking is critical to the success of a site. This is where all that time you spend in forums will pay off. Here's the catch-22 about forums: lurking is useless. The value of a forum is in the interaction with your fellow colleagues and cohorts. You learn long term by the interaction - not by just reading.

1 down 25 to go thanks Brett and Crew. I have been reading here everyday for about 6 months god knows how many of "us" are out there. You're posts have been invaluable as I have been setting up my first site. I figure this would be a good time to come out of the closet. :)

learnin' the ABC's;



4:33 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Once again, Brett shows why this board is the most valuable webmaster tool in the web, bar none.

Thanks Brett.


10:18 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Excellent reading, for new guys learning this SEO stuff like me this forum is proving to be gold dust.




10:49 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vitaplease is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Very informative Brett.

I do not dare to ask but after the A-to-Z of Do's; the A-to-Z of absolute Dont's for Google?
(We all are over enthousiasic to try everything).

I sense throughout several of your threads the importance of an outbound link towards an authority (authorative high-ranking page) on every page. In general this is realistic because it shows the openness of this page and the strength of its authority in not being afraid to lead away towards (quality) others. It would be interesting to see theory or proof of this set-up. Any ideas?

:)In my identity crisis; Am I a hub or an authority? This leans towards an inbetween.


11:35 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

does document weight *include* dependancies, or not?


11:53 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Thankyou Brett. Yet another awesome post on WMW ;)

> build at least a 100 page site.
How important is 100 pages, say compared to 70 or 30?
As a Designer/Manager for about 20 sites, I wish I could get my clients to write but they don't have the time and can't afford for me to write another 70 pages for them.

> Keyword domains are out .
I see a lot of keyword domains listed highly on Google.


12:29 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>As a Designer/Manager for about 20 sites, I wish I could get my clients to write but they don't have the time and can't afford for me to write another 70 pages for them.

Have them give you their press releases and build an archive. The KWs in them will amaze you.


1:07 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Brett, I think you forget to mention (or you simply ran out of letters) an initial comprehensive keyword research step. I generally break out a spreadsheet (as well as some automated tools that speed things up) and start dropping in keywords and other information on each, such as overture tool results, number of competing directory sites in msn(looksmart) and yahoo, PR of the top sites under google, overture top 3 bids, etc. When you are starting out, you may not be able to put a page up for every keyword. For the more competitive keywords, you'll need to wait for your site to grow before you can realistically expect to target them. I find it more valuable to target the ones on which I will likely get top rankings. You'll drive more traffic in the beginning and begin to build those incoming links from people who found the site useful. You can also choose your descriptions/titles better for the directory submissions, although it takes a little practice on getting large numbers of keywords to sound normal in a description. As the site grows, you can refer back to this keyword list, and even update it if you would like, although thats not always very necessary.


1:31 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

First, I wanted to say, "Thanks, Brett" for a great article. Our site has made many of these suggested changes already in the last month, and for the first time, we're seeing Googlebot crawls on hundreds of thousands of pages, as opposed to the tens of pages we were getting. The good news, if there was any, was that the relatively small number of pages we had in Google had excellent pagerank. But on the subject of virtual servers:

>any one could tell a virtual server to a dedicated server

Not virtual "server" but rather virtual "host" where many domains are on the same ip address. Some spiders have historically had a hard time with http 1.1 and have not used "domain" http headers. There are also se's that run their own dns servers and are fraught with slow updates. eg: I don't trust them to get it right 100% of the time. It's not worth the risk.

Er, which ones? We never see this problem with Google, and I can't think of another spider that does. Our site does many, many cobranded versions of our main site, all operating out of the same IPs. Given IP address space is slowly evaporating, this strikes me as really bad advice from a purely ecological point of view.


1:49 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ciml is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Brett; probably the best article since Search Engine Theme Pryamids [searchengineworld.com]. Our staff shall be reading it. The only thing that I'd add is "always think about link text". When the TITLE, BODY text and inbound link text of a page match, nice things happen in Google.

rjohara, as well as the specific point about linkrot, you bring up the (IMO much undervalued) topic of learning from non-SEOs. People who understand what makes the Web tick in general tend to do well with the algo's of tomorrow.

I'm intrigued by the '3rd level subdomains' comments. I believe that (in Google) the dangers are just as great when linking between mydomain.com and myotherdomain.com Of course this is still the matter of much research and debate, and how to avoid a "loose affiliation" penalty will in time be part of the "Successful Site..." approach.



9:37 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Thread continued here [webmasterworld.com...]
This 50 message thread spans 2 pages: 50

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