A few months ago I was launching my own personal Web site and I had the simple goal of getting it on Google’s front page when people searched my fairly common name: Rob Kelly.
Well, a search of “Rob Kelly” now places me first on Google’s front page.
I enjoy sharing learnings from such projects so I decided to deposit some of the knowls that helped get my personal website on Google’s front page right here in this article.
Warning/Alert: If you’re looking for SEO trickery to figure out how to game Google’s search engine, you’ve come to the wrong place! In fact, if that’s you, please leave right now…I don’t want your kind here!
The tips I’m sharing are logical/legitimate approaches to improving your Google website ranking in hopes of getting on the front page of Google in an honest fashion.
Ok, for the rest of you honest folk, let’s do it!
Let’s start with the obvious: The easiest method to get #1 on Google’s search results when people search “Your Name” is to start by naming your site “YourName”.com — if you already have YourName.com then you can skip to Google Front Page Tip #3 below.
I began this “Google Front Page” project researching other common names for people and seeing who ranked on Google’s front page (which typically lists 10 results).
My unscientific study started with picking the most common people’s names (like Rob Kelly) which I found on the Web and then looking at only the ones that came up on the first page of Google when you searched the name of the person behind the site (e.g. if you search “Joseph White” then JosephWhiteDP.com comes up on Google’s first page…and comes up first (hence the “1″ in the Rank on Google column).
The table below is a list of 20 examples of personal websites that ranked in the #1 position on Google’s front page — and then further below is the full list of 41 personal websites I looked at that had anywhere from a 2 to 10 Rank on Google (again, that means they cracked Google’s front page).
I used SEOBook (see How To Have X-Ray Vision About Your Competition) to help me with all these Google website rankings.
Note: I excluded exact match .com names (such as JosephWhite.com, BethJones.com, etc.) because Google almost always gives them a Google site ranking of #1 so there’s not as much to learn there.
Ok, so let’s cover some of the things I learned from looking at these 61 personal website examples and why they ended up ranking on Google’s front page.
Nearly 84% (51) of the 61 personal website examples that made it to the front page of Google were .com’s.
Four domain names were .org and three were .net and there was even a .me, .info and .la.
However, you’ll also notice that half of those non .coms were exact matches with the person’s name (i.e. LisaSmith.org, BobJones.org, Beth Jones.org, LisaSmith.net and SteveJones.me).
So, my advice: If you can get your exact name in a .com, .net or .org you should grab it; but if your exact name is not available in those domain suffixes, I suggest you buy a .com domain name and follow the rest of my advice below.
If you can’t a .com, .net or .org domain name with your exact first and last name (i.e. RobKelly.com), then I recommend that you consider four other options:
1) List your full name followed by a keyword
e.g. “RobKellyCEO.com” or “RobKellyAdvisor.com” or “RobKellyInternet” — I chose CEO, Advisor and Internet as the follow-up word since those are keywords related to what I do in life.
2) List a keyword followed by your full name
e.g. “CEORobKelly.com” or “AdvisorRobKelly.com” or InternetRobKelly.com”
3) Use your full name with middle inititial
e.g. “RobDKelly.com” (the name I chose!)
Note: I chose to use my full name with middle initial for stylistic reasons — I believe that if I had chosen options #1 or 2 above that I would have done just as fine with my Google website ranking.
4) A Hybrid (part of their name along with some other keyword)
e.g.You’ll notice that some of the people’s Web sites used a combination of their name and keyword with great success.
e.g. “OboeJoe.com” (by Joseph Robinson) and “JessicaKnows.com” by Jessica Smith).
Finally, if you don’t like any of the above and want to name your Web site something that doesn’t contain any part of your name, there are some success stories such as “VitalInformation.com” by Steve Smith and “VoiceTeacher” by David Jones.
But, why make your life so hard — stick to the 4 recommendations above (I personally prefer the first three!).
Note: There’s a good interview with a Search Marketing expert here called: How To Select The Best Domain Name To Attract Search Engines.
Finally, to get listed on the Google front page you have to put up good numbers.
In the spirit of Inevitability Thinking — I wanted to know what metrics for your Web site would make it inevitable that you would rank on page 1 of Google for your site.
So, now we have four more tips to add:
Your Web site home page should have a Google Page Rank of at least 2 and ideally it’s 3 or 4 or more.
What is Page Rank? It’s named after Google Co-founder Larry “Page” and is a rank (on a scale of 1 to 10) that Google assigns individual web pages within your site. Page Rank is reported to be heavily weighted as to the quantity and quality of links to your site. PageRank is a trademark of Google, though Stanford University owns the patent for it.
Click 9 Simple Tips For Showing Up In Search Results for some approaches to increasing your Page Rank (or Google Juice as some people call it).
That said, if you can follow all the other tips I’m providing, your Google Page Rank will by virtue increase from zero.
The typical Web site (of the 61 I looked at) has a median of 211 pages of content that are being indexed by Google.
RobDKelly.com currently has about 150 articles in it so that sounds about right to me. And by Content, I’m referring to any page of honest, quality content that you put up: articles you write, photos you take (ideally with some commentary), videos you take.
You’ll notice from the two Personal Website tables in this article that very few sites were able to get on the 1st page of Google with 10 or fewer pages of content — such sites are referred to as “Brochureware” and Google doesn’t typically rank these sites highly.
If you have 1,000 or more unique visitors per month, you will increase your chances of a top Google website ranking, according to the median of the 61 sites I looked at.
My own personal experience was the same: I got on page one of Google right when I passed the 1,000 monthly uniques threshold.
Click the Increasing Web Traffic section to find some articles related to this.
The 61 top personal websites had a median number of referral links of 485.
This means that 485 pages on the Web linked to their personal website.
note: links to you from other websites are most valuable but it is also valuable to have internal links (i.e. you link from one page of your site to another.
Check out How To Get Incoming Links To Your Blog or Web Site for some tips on getting other Web sites to link to you.
It took RobDKelly.com four months to get on Google’s front page.
This is fairly common as Google’s spider crawls your Web pages and begins to reward you for things like other people linking to you or simply for longevity (serious, just keep at it and Google will reward you).
And if you have many other people’s Web sites who use your name — including celebrities — you may have to wait longer.
These tips I’ve given are no guarantee that you’ll get in the Google top 10 search results for your own name — there could be many exceptions (including famous people having your same name).
Additionally, as the Internet population grows, the key metrics I listed will likely increase.
But, barring exceptions and taking into account population growth, I believe if you follow/meet most of the Google front page tips I’ve listed, you’ll get on the Google front page over time
Best of luck!
Here are my notes from the panel:
- Drum up publicity (because people saw the film promoted on Groupon)
- Sold tickets to the actual movie
Note: He’d like to see more demographic information on these customers that Groupon generated for hm
Note: The panel was moderated by Erick Schonfeld and David Hornik.
My Search Marketing Expert friend Dan Rosenbaum was kind enough to let me share a summary of the SMX conference he attended recently.
Here are 5 Search Marketing Tips he learned from the conference:
1. Don’t bother creating separate site to appeal to Bing and Google.
Back in the Bad Old Days, it was considered a good idea to code your website in such a way that it would appeal to the half-dozen or so search engines — each of which wanted to see something different.
Now that Google gets the majority of searches, people don’t do that so much anymore. But with the rise of Bing, there was some concern that Bing might be focusing on different signals than Google.
Rand Fishkin, of SEOMoz, showed some experimental data that implies that although Bing and Google are probably weighting their results somewhat differently, the differences are not enough to warrant any particular effort to change the way you’re producing your site.
2. Post a Video Sitemap. Really.
If you have much video on your site, Google was very clear on this point: create, post and maintain an XML video sitemap in addition to your standard XML sitemap. This is, frankly, in Google’s own self interest, as the launch of Google TV nears.
But if Google is telling you that it will be indexing video sitemaps aggressively, why wouldn’t you make the minimal effort to post one?
3. Relevant content is more important than ever.
In late April, Google made some significant changes to its algorithm in what it’s calling its “May Day” update. Perhaps the major change is a greater emphasis on content relevance, especially in the “long tail.”
Put simply: if you want to rank for “frigidare bar drawer refrigerator”, it will not be enough to use some overly SEO-ed boilerplate or even a manufacturer-supplied product description.
Relevant, helpful, original content will rise to the top faster than before.
Or so they say.
4. Content farms and paid links are in great peril.
As part of May Day, Google reps went our of their way to say that links from mass content generators like Demand Media — or any form of paid links — will have their relevance reduced to near zero. (I’ve heard anecdotal evidence about paid links.).
If you’re relying on either one as a source of backlinks or content, expect your rankings to drop severely, if they haven’t already.
5. Expect more “real-time” results in SERP pages.
You may have heard about Google’s “caffeine” update. Caffeine is more an change in the speed that the index is updated than it is a change in the way relevance is calculated.
Where 10 years ago, Google updated its index every few months (yes, really!), the Caffeine update now puts changes into the index as soon as the crawlers detect them — which can be quite fast indeed.
The change has been being rolled out over the past year; it is now active in all data centers in all regions globally. It’s one way that Google can now include tweets in its SERPs.
There was more, of course: a ton of information presented about interesting social media tools, advanced techniques in SEO-friendly site architecture (of special interest to e-commerce sites), real-time search (and the importance of fresh content), and link-building.
If you’d like to discuss any of this, or any other search or content issues you may be facing, please don’t hesitate to work the keyboard or your phone.
If you’d like to find out more about Search Marketing Expert Dan, go check out Danrosenbaum.com.
Did you know that one domain name could easily get you 5-times as much search engine traffic as another similar-sounding domain name!?
Picking the best domain name for your business is an important decision…especially given that search engines will examine your domain name to determine how much traffic to send it.
To pick the best domain name for a search engine, you’re gonna have to consider:
To help answer those domain name/search marketing questions, I reconnected with my old friend Lana Goldenberg the other day (we worked together at Topica and Hot Topic Media).
Lana is now a Search Marketing Coach and was kind enough to share her thoughts on how you should approach using/choosing a domain name that Google and search engines will value.
And she even offers you a freebie consultation — Enjoy!
Q: Hi Lana. For starters, does the name of a web site (i.e. the domain name) make a difference in how the Web site shows up in the results of Google or other search engines?
Short answer – yes.
Let’s say your sell organic strawberries online. (I will make up a generic example). Your business name is Picadilly Farms, so you choose PicadillyFarms.com as your website. Your neighbor down the street also sells organic strawberries, and his website is OrganicStrawberries.com.
All other things being equal (and there are many other factors to consider), when your potential customers search “organic strawberries,” Google will display OrganicStrawberries.com higher than PicadillyFarms.com
The length of the domain name doesn’t matter, as far as I know. It’s much more important that your domain name is relevant to your business.
So back to the organic strawberries example, if I had to choose between the short domain picfarms.com vs. the longer domain OrganicStrawberriesCalifornia.com I would hands down select the longer one.
To answer this question, you have to get into your potential customers’ minds.
That said, let’s say Rozes Are Red is the tagline of a massive PR or advertising campaign you are running this fall. Your customer can’t walk by a bus stop without seeing the words Rozes Are Red.
There are a couple of approaches here.
First, you definitely want to reserve your business name as the domain name, and possibly even your first and last name, just for strategic reasons.
Second, get into your target market’s heads and think about the words or questions they are “googling” to address a particular need.
If you are a chiropractor specializing in back pain, your ideal clients are
probably googling “back pain” or “lower back pain” or “pain relief.”
I would recommend incorporating at least some of these into your domain name. So maybe you are able to reserve ChiropractorForBackPainRelief.com based on this information.
I recommend using Google’s free keyword tool to do some research — It’s a goldmine of information!
Recently we were trying to decide on using “business storage” vs. “commercial storage” on a client’s website. We entered both keywords into Google’s tool, and saw that “business storage” gets searched about 5 times as often as “commercial storage.”
The decision to use “business storage” was a no-brainer based on these numbers.
Yes, you can see the keywords in your website statistics. I recommend installing Google Analytics on your site (note: Check out 3 Easy Steps To Using Google Analytics to learn more about setup/implementation).
Google Analytics is free and will give you the keywords along with many other useful pieces of data.
You may also have a similar tool included with your web hosting.
Yes and no. It is a good idea to register the domain names that are relevant to your business. However, just redirecting these domains to your site does not do anything to help you be found online.
Google frowns upon redirects and prefers that you have real and relevant content on each of the domains.
If you are PicadillyFarms.com from my example above, you may want to grab OrganicStrawberries.com (assuming it’s available) and create a site that describes your expertise in organic strawberries, such as:
Assuming the organic strawberry business is a profitable one for you, you can use this niche site to increase your visibility for organic strawberry lovers.
It’s an interesting business niching strategy as much as it is a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy.
In the example above, OrganicStrawberries.com could be considered a Campaign Site or a Microsite.
Large companies routinely create Microsites for new products, offerings, or to support their offline advertising efforts. Auto manufacturers may have separate websites for each model under the umbrella of the corporate brand.
The structure of the site would follow the structure of their business. They may want to create sub-directories by wedding themes: WeddingFlowers.com/traditional-wedding, WeddingFlowers.com/outdoor-wedding, and so on.
Q: Are there any search engine marketing (SEM)/SEO books that you recommend people read?
The Findability Formula by heather lutze is excellent for SEM.
I’d love for your readers to visit LanaGoldenberg.com and sign up for my newsletter.
I send out a weekly Market Smarter, Not Harder tip to help small businesses and organizations maximize their marketing efforts.
You can also click on the Contact tab and sign up for a complimentary 15-minute Get Acquainted Phone Session.
We will discuss your business goals and laser in with specific solutions for bringing more qualified
visitors and leads to your website.
Q: Thanks, Lana!
My pleasure! I hope your readers find this information useful for their Search Engine Optimization efforts.
If you want to generate free leads on Facebook, Scott Crider is someone you should listen to.
He’s been preaching the benefits of creating value through social media for a few years now.
Back in 2007 Scott built the Dogs Against Romney blog after hearing Presidential hopeful Romney tell a reporter about how he had once strapped a dog cage to the roof of his car (with his dog in it!) on family vacation, traveling 80MPH…scaring the dog so badly that it shit all down the side of the car.
Dogs Against Romney was an overnight viral success picked up by major media outlets — it generated at least 500,000 visits in less than a month.
Scott also helped his friend and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee get hundreds of thousands of free Web site visitors during his campaign.
If Elvis Presley were still alive, he’d probably be asking Scott for help monetizing Facebook (Scott’s firm, Aristotle Interactive, handles email marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises).
Scott and the Aristotle team had a recent win helping a business generate leads through Facebook.
I asked him a few questions about lead gen win and general subject of making money through Facebook — enjoy!
Q: Would you explain how a business begins to think about making money through Facebook?
The real power in Facebook is in turning people into advocates for your brand, and you do that by giving them something of value, in a cool way, and making it easy for them to share.
Q: What is your definition of a Facebook app?
My definition of a Facebook app is one that requires the user to grant permission for it to access their personal information, and everything has to function within the Facebook API (the user never leaves Facebook).
Q: Tell me about Murphy USA — how did you help them acquire Facebook leads?
Murphy USA is a Fortune 100 gas station-convenience store chain, and a great client that lets us do great work.
They tasked us (Aristotle Interactive) to come up with a way of helping them grow their fans from their then-level of 5,100 (many of whom were associates of the company) to a much higher number of customers, and to activate those customers to visit their stores.
Q: So what was your approach?
We created a custom app for them that offered both existing and new fans a free Coca-Cola product of their choice, to be picked up at any Murphy USA location, and the app also allowed everyone to who got a free Coke to share one with their friends, as well.
The app collected both email and physical addresses, as well as age info (a Facebook requirement) from the customers, and delivered the free Coke in the form of a secure, printable coupon to their email address.
Q: Can you walk us through the steps that a user would experience in this app you built?
Q: Were there other ways the app you built encouraged Facebook fans to spread the word?
Yes, in addition to choosing 12 friends to share the promotion with, the app also offered each person the opportunity to post a message to their news feed that said “I got a free Coke from Murphy USA!” which could be seen by everyone.
Q: On average, how many friends did each Murphy USA fan share the app with?
I’d estimate that most of them shared it with all 12 friends they were allowed to share it with, and posted the message to their news feeds as well.
Q: So, that would mean that perhaps two thousand of Murphy USA’s fans shared the app (the free coke coupon) with 20,000 of their friends?
It’s hard to say. It went viral extremely quickly. Literally within minutes. The first two days the app was live they grew by 7,000 new fans each day.
It was so much traffic that our outbound coupon email volume to AOL caused them to temporarily block us and we had to put some bottlenecks in to slow it down. It was something like 800 AOL emails in an hour that triggered it. I didn’t even know 800 people still used AOL!
So far, the app has taken them to over 32,000 fans in 3 weeks since it launched, and virtually 100% of them have stayed as fans.
How much does an application like this cost to build?
I probably shouldn’t reveal any figures on that, because the client is in a very competitive business and they’re pretty tight-lipped about things that give them an advantage. Let’s just say that it cost less than you might think. It easily fit within their normal quarterly promotions budget.
How does Murphy USA use the email address they now have for their 30,000 + new fans for marketing follow-up?
Murphy USA really respects people’s privacy, so they chose to send one follow up email message to them to offer them the opportunity to opt into Murphy’s monthly e-Offers (an opt-in email database that offers promotions on all the different things they sell).
Of course, nearly all 30,000+ of them are still fans of Murphy’s Facebook page, too, and can be communicated with there anytime.
How would you describe Murphy’s ROI on this?
I’d say the return on their investment has to be pushing 1,000+%, probably more, considering the lifetime value of these new relationships.
Will Murphy USA do more of these free coupons?
I’m sure they will. Re-skinning the app and replacing the coupon is fairly easy, plus it’s a win/win for Murphy USA and their product partners.
Q: What did Aristotle do to ensure security for all this (i.e. make sure there’s not an unlimited # of free coupons that people use)?
That was another level of complication in the app creation, but a necessary one to protect both the client and Coca-Cola.
We built a system that generated a custom coupon for each recipient. They received an email with a one-time link to the coupon, and each coupon had the recipient’s email address screened across the entire face of it. So they could only access it once, and they were discouraged from making copies.
Q: Can you give me another example of a business that could do really well with a free giveaway on Facebook?
Imagine Victoria’s Secret — if they launched something like this as a “share a free panty with your friends” on Facebook, it would go stratospheric. Are you listening Victoria? Call me (ha!).
Q: So, if you had to sum up the keys to making one of these Facebook marketing apps work, what would it be?
Q: That’s a fascinating use-case, Scott — If someone were to want to get in touch with you or Aristotle Interactive, what’s the best way for them to do so?
They can call me at Aristotle Interactive at 501-374-4638, or hook up with me on Twitter @CScottCrider or here on Linked In.
I recently met a neat guy named Mitchell Cogert who gave me some good Twitter tips.
He’s the president of ad agency Johnson Cogert & Strauss and has worked with Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit and other leading businesses on marketing strategy.
For himself, he has used Twitter to build a profitable little business selling poker books.
Mitchell was kind enough to answer questions on such topics of Twitter as:
Here’s the Q&A on:
Q: Hi Mitchell, let’s start off simple. How do you get followers on Twitter — what are the top few tips?
Here are three easy and free ways to get followers on Twitter:
Q: Would you discuss how to use Twitter’s auto-follow feature to get followers?
Twitter does not have an auto-follow feature to get followers.
Q: I see that you blog — did you get more followers on Twitter as a result of your blog?
Yes. Your blog or website provides the valuable content that you tweet about and is linked to your blog.
An example from one of my poker tweets:
New Blog Post: The 3 most popular Poker Strategies you must Avoid
Q: Do you recommend that businesses buy Twitter followers or should they focus on acquiring free Twitter followers?
I recommend that businesses do both. However, when it comes to buying Twitter followers you need to be careful since there are too many scams about getting followers..
I recommend my clients use twollow. It is inexpensive to use (as little as $80 per year) and it only auto-follows those users based on the keywords you select.
Q: Business folks often ask me “How do I get Twitter followers fast!?” — What’s your advice to them?
You don’t want to get Twitter followers fast. You want to get prospects, not followers.
I mean, do you want to get one million followers who have no interest in what you offer, or 10,000 followers who are prospects; those Twitter users who have an interest in what you are selling?
Twitter is not a get rich quick platform. To be successful on Twitter is a process. If you understand the process, you will get followers that are prospects, and turn them into sales.
Q: What business has the most Twitter followers…and do you know how they did it?
The businesses that have the most followers are usually those that have a well-know brand names and use Twitter effectively.
Q: If someone wanted to get in touch with you about Twitter (I know you do some consulting) or find out more about you and your books, how would they do so?
For consulting, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about my poker books go to APokerExpert. And, of course, if you want to win money playing poker, follow me on Twitter at @Mitchell1969.
Q: Thanks, Mitchell!
You are welcome!
If you want to learn more about getting followers on Twitter, check out Two Tips to Get Followers on Twitter– and if you want to review some beginner Twitter tips, here’s a good primer called Twitter Tips for Beginners.
Imagine if you had x-ray vision about your competitors…and even your partners and clients!?
Well, lately, I feel like I do.
I’ve been using a free tool for a month now and it allows me to instantly see the following things about almost any Web site:
It’s called the SEO Toolbar (instructions on downloading it are below); it provides you a toolbar on your Firefox Browser that you can turn on or off while you’re using the Web.
Let me explain a few of the top ways I’m using this SEO Toolbar (using eBay as an example)
In the first screenshot, I hit the blue info button in the upper left-hand corner to get the pop-up yellow screen of information about eBay).
Doing so tells me the following about eBay (I’m going to pick highlights):
In the next screenshot, I’m showing the Rank Checker feature which allows us to type in any keyword (search term that people type into Google) and see where any given Web site ranks on the search results for that keyword.
So, as you can see in the screenshot, ebay would rank in the following position on Google (on the left-hand “organic results” if you searched those terms):
Rank Checker allows many keywords (at least 100 at a time) to be ranked.
Now, I highly recommend you couple this Rank Checker tool with Google’s Keyword Tool (which tells you how much any keyword is searched on Google) which SEO Toolbar also includes.
So now you can tell how well a Web site is doing in terms of its relevancy on the most popular keywords in your business!
If you use Google Analytics on your own Web site, you can simply copy and paste your top keywords from your Analytics account into Rank Checker and see where you’re ranking on Google.
The Rank Checker also shows you where a Web site ranks on Yahoo and Microsoft Bing — I just didn’t have room in the screenshot to show it!
There’s a lot more to the SEO Toolbar than this, but those are some highlights for me.
Here’s how you get SEO Toolbar:
Go to SEO Book Tools and download all three of the tools:
And if you have questions on any of this, feel free to post comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
If you like this article, you may want to check out my Got Googlejuice? posting.
Best of luck!
I chatted with DocStoc Founder & CEO Jason Nazar the other day.
You should know abut Jason and DocStoc because Jason is an amazing networker (among other things) and DocStoc has been one of the fastest growing Web sites in the last few years (ranked 407th by Quantcast with 15 million unique visitors per month, according to DocStoc).
Jason and I had a little chat in which I asked him a few questions. He agreed to let me share it with you.
Q: Hi Jason, you really value business networking — tell me your philosophies.
I personally enjoy networking. I like meeting smart, interesting successful people.
From a professional standpoint, I believe the principal of it’s “who you know not what you know” is very true.
One thing about the Internet is that we spend a lot of time behind our computers…you’ve got to get out there and meet people.
Typically the larger the network you have, the more opportunities you have.
We spend a lot of time behind our computers…but business still gets done in person.
People want to work with other people they like, trust and respect.
And you don’t do that by just sending emails and sending IMs…you have to get out and meet people.
And if you want to have opportunities such as getting hired, raising money, building your company, and hiring the right people…you need to have a large network.
Typically, the larger your network is the more opportunities you have.
The business we’re building is a consumer-facing Internet company – we’re trying to get pretty much everyone in the world to use DocStoc. …