Over the last three years, I have been fortunate enough to bump elbows with owners and operators of high-volume traffic sites. The one prevailing theme that these people have agreed to (independently of one another, I should add) is that if you build it well, they will come. This rule applies to both adult site owners, whom I've done the most "bumping" with (if you will), as well as mainstream site owners. When you build a site with amazing content, that someone cannot get elsewhere, they will come to your site. If your content is just out of this world, that person will then tell their friends; hopefully those friends tell their friends (maybe this ring of people will help with indirect link juice on forums and blogs), and ideally, the cycle will continue. At the same time, you don't want to avoid on-page techniques to optimize your site, and you most certainly don't want to forget about off-page factors of SEO. But neither of those aspects means a shit, if what you're sellin' is not what they're buyin'.
This, in essence, is what I mean by SEO starts at home. Make your site a place people want (maybe even need) to go, and that should always be your first step. A perfect example of this is FMyLife.com. I had the privilege to talk to one of the site's creators, Maxime Valette, and as he explains in my article Interview with FMyLife.com creator, is that:
Many ask me how they can promote their websites and make people talk about it. Every time, I say to them: first of all, make a good website, and be passionate about it. That’s the best way to make it known, because I see many many people who make a blog or a website, in order to make money (first). That’s so wrong.
Once your home is all tidy, you bought all the hooch in the world, picked up way too much top-quality meat, and you've got the big game on, it is ready for guests. So once you feel your website has content that people will enjoy, then you can work on other aspects, such as:
- Setting up a sitemap
- Making sure all of your links are SE friendly
- Making sure all of your pages are SE friendly
- Having a design that fits the theme of your site (imagine if CNN.com looked like MySpace, would they lose some trust?)
- Making sure all of your images have proper title and alt attributes
- Making sure your web-illiterate parents could even navigate around it
- Setup an RSS feed
And so forth.
So your content is the hotness, and your site is all SEO pimped out, now what? Now, and only now, should you focus on other ways to drive people to your site. In terms of site promotion, this kind of a list is virtually endless, but here are some common techniques:
- Submit to directories, social media sites, and social bookmarking sites (the OnlyWire tool helps tremendously)
- Post your link through forum signatures, and on web 2.0 properties
- Pray to god DMOZ accepts your site (they won't, so don't fret)
- Do link exchanges with other webmasters (preferably through 3-way trades)
- Comment on dofollow blogs (although Matt Cutts recently implied that Google will not weigh those links as heavily anymore)
- Syndicate your site, through RSS reader directories
And so forth.
That's about all I have to say about that. I hope my message resonates through to all the new kids on the block, of whom there are many nowadays. Personally, I feel SEO is an on-going battle, and as you go along, you will pick up new techniques all the time. Don't give up, because this is a long, evolving battle that will be worth it in the long run, even if you lack early success. Just remember:
Make your content tits, then work on the rest.