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Overview of site contents. Includes site map, glossary, and quick start checklist.
Contains information about keywords, on page SEO, link building, and social interaction.
Tips on how to buy traffic from search engines.
Learn how to track your success with organic SEO and PPC ads. Includes information about web analytics.
Creating a credible website is core to being linkworthy and selling to customers.
Learn how to make money from your websites.
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Links to useful audio and video information. We will create new SEO videos every month.
Exclusive member only interviews.
Coupons and offers to help you save money promoting your websites.
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Website Credibility

Table of Contents

Enhancing Credibility

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Necessary Disciplines

To make a widely read and profitable website it is desirable to have

You can be successful while lacking any of the above, but the more of them you do well the more likely you are to be successful.

Why These Other Disciplines Matter

Some SEOs rank pages and then waste that opportunity by creating a website that does not convert. Others try to push sites so hard that the push marketing leaves spammy footprints that make the site likely to be demoted by new search filters.

Rankings without trust have little value. It is hard to sell to somebody unless they trust you. Effective longterm SEO requires building user TRUST, which makes your rankings more stable and increases your visitor value.

More background information from Matt McGee here.

Becoming an Industry Leader

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Quantity vs Quality (Why Most Internet Businesses Fail)

Many people are in a rush to build thinking they are ready to cash in on the next gold mine. A ton of money changes hands on the Internet, yet most Internet businesses fail. Why? People think they can make something rather large that is pretty good. Logic such as “If I can make a dollar a day off each page and have 200 pages, I would not need to work.”

The low cost of content creation can lead to poor document quality. If you say one incorrect thing, you may lose the trust of a prospective customer—sometimes for life. If you are worried about producing volume before you learn how to attract attention you are not going to get many visitors.

Making information that just turns out to be clutter rarely makes for a long-term, successful website. If you don’t have passion for what you do, it is much harder to be successful in a completely open environment, especially if workers who have a lower living cost in third world countries can easily duplicate your work.

Long-Term Investment Strategy

Bambi Francisco asked Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital how he chooses what companies to invest in. He replied, “It’s the idea that the founders are doing something that they think is useful for themselves, And, then, eventually perhaps, coincidentally, perhaps accidentally, they discover that the product or service that they have built because they wanted to use something like this is that of great interest to lots of other people.”

If you create something you enjoy that is exceptionally useful, you stand a good chance of being successful.

Cutting Through Clutter

Numerous people have asked me to promote their ‘clutter’ sites. The correct answer has been no, no, and no. The whole reason search has become such a successful market is because it helps people cut through the clutter.

Each page on a website already has billions of alternatives a click or two away. Each page is important. The most important thing to do is focus on a specific niche—something you are truly interested in.

Be Useful

Many successful websites are successful because they are syndicated. There are many ways you can work to get your site syndicated, but an often overlooked ‘trick’ is to simply be the most useful site in your niche.

Amazon is successful because they built features that make it more useful than most other shopping sites. They added value to their product or service by allowing user feedback, related suggestions, used book sales, and the “so you want to” collection guides to their pages.

Own a Niche

Chartreuse explained his theory on participating in a niche market:

You can’t create a site about what’s going on in the plastic industry unless you learn how they think. You gotta pick up some trade papers. Talk to some people inside. So that when you do create you will be authentic and loved. So that you get it. You can’t be ____ing pedestrian and set up a site and hope they will come. They may visit but they won’t come back. And if they don’t come back you have lost.

Be Trustworthy

Webmasters, site users, directory editors, and search engines may look for things like a privacy policy or a physical address as signs of quality. In Beyond Algorithms: A Librarian's Guide to Finding Web Sites You Can Trust, Karen G. Schneider highlighted many things she looked for in a trustworthy site, which included:

  1. Availability
  2. Credibility
  3. Authorship
  4. External Links
  5. Legality

Choosing a Market

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Why did I Make Search Engine Sites?

I am fascinated by search engines. I can build a site about search engines (and compete with other leading sites) only because I am extremely interested in search. Reflecting back upon my decisions, I would probably be more successful today if I would have picked just a specific engine (most likely Google) or a specific type of search engine and expanded from there.

My general rule of thumb is to search for what you want to promote, using your favorite search engine. Click on the first listing. If it is not good enough, then you should be there. If they know more than you, learn from them. If you devote yourself to becoming a guru on a topic that you already love, there is no reason that you cannot eventually be the first listing. You are only limited by your own courage, creativity, and efforts.

You cannot learn too much about something that interests you. If someone wanted to make a network of local sites, I would tell them to research Craigslist. You need to know what worked and where your topic has been to be able to do well with it going forward. Catching up does not mean cloning past success, but finding ways to build off it.

Tragedy of the Commons & Being Worthy of a Subscription

The Tragedy of the Commons is a story based upon farmers sharing a plot of land, with each owning a few too many cows. As the land exceeds its usable capacity, each farmer fights back by adding a few more cows. Eventually the land is destroyed.

Nothing of value can be universally accessible and free. Since it costs virtually nothing to create information (or have a machine generate it for you), a lot is lost on the web if we trust everything we read.

As more and more information is created, more and more unoriginal information is duplicated. It gets to the point where sorting through the mess becomes more than most people desire to do. This is part of the reason why people use and trust search engines so much. It also reinforces the value of the best channels in a marketplace.

Gaining Mindshare

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RSS Subscribers

The solution to the information overload problem is to be so remarkable and interesting that you capture the attention of the audience. RSS and newsreaders (such as Bloglines, Google Reader, and FeedDemon) make it easy for people to subscribe to select news channels or websites while blocking out redundant or useless noise.

If you cover a news topic that is saturated, you may want to use a news reader to help you organize your news and get the scoop on the latest news as it happens. You can subscribe to custom news feeds by keywords and subscribe to channels like the SEO Book blog.

Why Subscribers Matter

The people who are subscribing to RSS feeds are also the most likely to be people who comment on the contents of those sites, and write other similar sites willing to link at your site. If you can figure out a way to get those people to desire to give you their attention, you quickly and cheaply reach the most influential voices.

An Objective Opinion on Mindshare

If you did not own your site, is there any reason you would want to visit it multiple times each week? If you figure out how to make that answer “yes,” then you are ahead of over 95% of competing webmasters.

In most industries, many people will fail, or barely get by, while a few successful voices make themselves heard above the rest. Those people who gain many subscribers and have other people talking about them will be successful. Competitive markets are largely a game of mindshare. Ultimately, search engines follow people.

Making it Work

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Controlling Costs and Leveraging Exposure

Google keeps their core search results clean then aggressively wraps them in ads. Most Google users do not click many ads, but some click ads often. If you have a high attention portion of your site that is hard to monetize you can still leverage the value and trust associated with that section of your site without offending your regular readers.

Some search algorithms heavily weigh domain related trust. If you fear losing your market position by placing too many ads or too much lower quality content in your main channel, then you can create a static "offers" section of the site that is either of lower quality or that is more aggressively monetized. These pages will still rank well because your site is trusted.

Some content management systems also allow you to change page layouts based on content age, such that you can monetize archive content more aggressively than new content.

Action Items

  1. Search for your topic. Find the #1 result on your favorite search engine. If you know more than them, and are willing to work hard sharing information and marketing your site, you will eventually replace them.
  2. Consider further focus of your topic or consider buying books and reading websites to better learn about your topic. As you learn share what you learn. Eventually you will rank #1.
  3. If you believe you are weak in the skills of copywriting and usability, buy a book that covers the topic in which you are weak.
  4. List three ways you can generate revenue from your site without making it look like the sole purpose of the site.
  5. If your site is an e-commerce site, list three reasons or features that would make customers (and competitors) talk about your site.

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