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The site receives only 150 visits a day on average and has shown no real growth for three months.
I solicit some links, use no black hat seo and whilst there is a little duplicate content on the site, it is vastly outweighted by the original writing.
I have a yahoo and a regional dmoz listing but still the search strings are very vague and obscure.
Is it still just a case of playing the waiting game some more or is there something else we need to do? When do i rule out any sandbox penalties and accept that we just don't have enough links?
Soliciting links is always a good idea. What I would suggest is spend 2 hrs every working day for 2 weeks doing nothing but looking for links. Use search engines to find pages that are very related to your site, but not in direct competition. Send an email asking of they would be willing to add your link. There is no accurate figure, but 1 in 20 is a pretty realistic conversion for link request emails. Try and write each email tailored to the request. If the link request appears to be personally written then it may work a lot better than a generic email sent out to loads of sites. I also think it works well to use your webmaster@email address.
As well as actively seeking out links it may be a good idea to have a "link to us" page on your website that makes is very easy to for anyone to link to your site, for example providing them with the html code to generate a text link or even an image link. By making it as easy as possible for people to link to you, you may receive more natural links (un-solicited)
You said you where receiving se referrals for a very wide range of queries, you may want to try and get sites that link to you to use a certain anchor text. The anchor text is the text that makes up the actual link. Search engines use anchor when evaluating your page.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
Do you mention the keywords your targeting exactly the same in your head tag as the body of the page?
You have have links point to deep pages with the exact keyword your going after?
Are you listed in all of the free directories in your market?
Do you sometimes use bold and h1 tags for some keywords your going after?
Do you have a website that people want to return to and also recommend to friends?
Do you have a send this page to a friend tool on your website?
Do you have something that will bring readers back to your site?
Have you done any press releases?
these are some questions you should be asking yourself. Here at WebmasterWorld each of these points and many more has been talked about in much detail - dig, dig like the dog thats lost his bone.
In that is is written in words that are not used elsewhere but on topics that are, or in that it is providing infomation that is not available elsewhere?
If it is the first, then in a very competitive category it is not surprising that better established sites would still be outranking you and that you are lost in the serps somewhere.
If you are already providing unique information, then that's a different thing, and the numbers seem low.
I started a content site in a competitive area at about the same time - a little later in fact, around March this year. From the outset the focus was on providing really unique info, as well as the standard sort of fare that would be expected on such a site, so that on topics that might get a paragraph on most sites, I have a page or even several pages.
This has worked pretty well and I would be at about 10 - 12 times your numbers and growing fast. Most people initially came in via the unusual queries, but then move around and a lot of natural links have resulted because the content is good, so that the other pages start to benefit. Now the site is starting to rank well for more mainsteam phrases as a result with obvious benefits.
I was so terrified of triggering some sort of filter on this site that I have not so far solicited any links - I am really convinced that unnatural linking patterns are at the core of the problems that arise with many sites. I started it off with a link from an existing site, got it into Dmoz and Yahoo, a couple of very large niche directories which have editor approval processes and left it at that.
I think letting content do the work, if the nature of the site is content based, is the way to go. But it must be really unique, not rewritten, or the competition for a new site is too stiff.
But if you want to create a buzz, figure out which site in your field is getting the most traffic and then make a huge effort to be way better.
Don't be "just better," but be so much better that when someone visits your site they will mail the link to all their friends.
There you have it, the formula for success = be way better. Ok, so you already knew that. Now you've heard it again: excellence wins. It may be costly, your competition may have a large staff.
I'm not quite sure what is the protocol for approaching the traditional press.Look for stories in the press similar, or in the same field. Get the name of the reporter doing the story and call him or her on the phone. Leave messages, don't give up, be persistent.
Write the story that you'd like to be told, memorize it and tell it to the reporter convincingly and enthusiastically. Follow up with a letter reiterating the story.
Do this often and repeatedly with every medium. Do it national and local in many localities (if it applies). If it's a good story it will get out there, once one runs the story the others who ignored your calls will get back to you.
Our content is unique and well written but most of our referrals still come from google image search.
Translation of this comment would be: No one cares about your unique and well written content, as searches are bring up your image files not your content pages.
Make a plan so people care. Go through Brett's 26-steps. Get aggressive and look at what your competitors are doing. Having a revenue generating site is more than good content and a few link requests. If this is your core business (which I hope it is not due to the lack of revenue in 12 months) you need an action plan today, not tomorrow, but today.
When you made your goals a year ago have you achieved them? What have you failed to achieve during this last year to lead to your current situation? Ask yourself the tough questions and then roll up your sleeves and start to work, and work hard.
worked perfectly for me...
500 pages of GOOD content in one year is a LOT.
Define "good". 500 pages of GREAT content in a year is a lot. 10 pages of AWESOME content that everyone wants and links to is a lot. 500 pages of some articles about "green widgets" that costs $2/pop is NOT a lot and does not make "a large informational site" - see the title of the thread. Apparently, the original poster's content is not "awesome", and it is not even "great", otherwise traffic would've been there.
Where exactly did you infer that is was $2 an article outsourced garbage?
Our content is unique and well written
I am a professional writer and though it is a competitive field we're aiming for alternative, controversial content.
Apparently, the original poster's content is not "awesome", and it is not even "great", otherwise traffic would've been there.
But that's the whole point of the sandbox. "Build good content, and they will come" does NOT apply in Google right now. It's more like "Build trusted links, and they will come".
I am just commenting on the fact that if people don't come, and they don't link to the content, it maybe original and well-written, but it is not good for the web, or maybe navigation is bad, or noone is interested in the topic, or competition is too strong or many other "what ifs".
But it is likely that one of 2 is true: either content doesn't qualify as "great" for the purpose of the website, or "a large content site" in the niche would be a 50,000 pound - excuse me article - guerilla, my feisty young friend.
Youve a great site so now build links, I average a minimum 3 vistors per month off each link - its a lot of work but when the Mr G throws a wobbler, I dont worry that much as I know my traffic will be there.
If I'm looking at the right site, try reversing some of your titles for starters as the destination is the most imporant keyword and you have it at the end of the title in some pages instead of at the beginning, be consistent in reinforcing the country on every page title, not just the city, etc.
Also noticed the page title, H1 and image don't always match up, the images have cutesy alt text which doesn't help your case. Take a page from how ecommerce sites rank and tighten up your title-h1-alt text triumvirate and you might rank higher.
Also consider a site map that gives readers AND spiders a complete index to the whole site in one shot as that worked wonders for helping rank a couple of my customers move up the ranks.
I think it could help hem to have some kind of free tool that makes a distinct count of all words on a page.
Brett has one on SEW:
There are others, search on "keyword density"
Well, after viewing your site I noticed the lack of content eg. 15, one page guides equal to the number of countries you're trying to cover here. Okay, it's a start, except you will need much more detailed info for visitors to stay at your site, never mind return visit.
Although it's not too bad, if I were you and I'm really suggesting that you're in the totally wrong niche here, I would select a different topic or at least target a further niche within your current one - or something where you can expand your offerings ten-fold, as you'll need the advantage to secure traffic etc. At the moment the site just isn't 'sticky' nor does it 'pull me' in and if you hope to monetise this then you'll have to find a way of solving that problem.
I noticed it displays the guides using a large layout, and it kinda looks too big for such a site (maybe it's just me), so I think a smaller, tighter look might serve you better. But you must add more content to fill it up as it looks very empty at first glance.
Content is what you need, but I think delving into a market that well established and owned already is a waste of time, especially if you intend to go the info publishing route and charge ad fees.
Your site offers real, personal, guides and there's a lot of value in that. Not to mention all the work that has already gone into it.
- Add a discussion forum, this was a great suggestion someone made earlier in the thread, you need to get your visitors involved, that's how underground sites work.
- Monitize your traffic now. I didn't see any context ads or affiliate links. Unless I missed them this is something you want to do soon (unobtrusively) so that you can use the income to re-invest in new traffic.
- Rethink your navigation. You want idiot proof, redundant, navigation combined with a clean site map. Also consider more inter-linking between articles/topics.
- Re-edit your articles, the typo % is way too high :-)
Because there's so much competition you can't really expect to fight the big sites on major keywords, don't even try. Keep creating unique content and take the top listings as providence when they happen.
What you should be looking for is buzz traffic. This has been mentioned already (blog links, news articles, etc..).
And of course you can supplement that with PPC traffic assuming the site can pay for that itself.
Ian you said:
Your site offers real, personal, guides and there's a lot of value in that.
The guy has only got 15 single page guides, although the info might be useful and well written - there simply isn't enough of it yet. You're suggesting to the guy that he has a fantastic site and practically giving him the go ahead to take on the world, and he's going to get eaten alive with the site at it's present state. He's got naff all content on there, and he needs at least a couple of hundred pages to even call it a resource - which is basically what he will ultimately be selling to people.
Currently he has guides and stories, but that's only 2 bits of info and he needs way more before the site can be considered a resource. He'll find it tough to get links as it's so short of content nobody will want to link, as it'll be seen as empty. You're giving him a false sense of security and he's the one that'll get stung following your advise. I suggest he first makes it into something great - then he can monetise it, but it needs a lot of content and far more content areas than the 2 he's got.
Visitors won't stay long when there's only 2 main areas to his site.
I saw your site and you are in a VERY competitive field here, that's already owned by the majors like travelocity and expedia as well as all the 'me too' sites. You're up against it and although I see what you're attempting, I just feel this niche area is a lost cause.
This is true, but lots of good unique and targeted content pages will act as doorway pages and increase the overall stat's significantly.
The big players donít bother with the three, four, five keyword strings...
For the record, the site has A LOT more than 15 content pages, there appear to be 100's of pages in far more than the 2 categories you're referring to.
Also I'm not sure I follow your thinking that he will get 'eaten alive'. That concept seems to make no sense in this context. I'm not sure what you're personally paying for hosting but for the rest of the known universe it's not very expensive.
I'm confused as well by your admonition that it shouldn't be monetized yet. Are you implying that if the site isn't ready adding context ads (eg) will somehow cost money?
As to whether or not it's a 'resource', I suspect we're using different dictionaries.
at least a couple of hundred pages to even call it a resource
ROFLMAO - that's the best definition of 'resource' I've ever heard.
A single PAGE web site can be a resource site if it's the only site around with that specific critical information, and I know a few of them and they're very busy.
BTW, for a "New to Web Development" forum, I think the posts should be a little more supportive and helpful than trying to shoot the guys hopes and aspirations in the arse. My wife has a site with only about 20 pages and it ranks VERY well (with my help of course) in the fairly competitive field of apparel so the number of pages hasn't got a thing to do with it.