Here is my guide to networking and growing your site's web traffic with a very cool and collaborative SEO experiment. It is very simple and effective method that requires people to work together and grow together.This is a little bit of work and it's not an overnight success, but it has proven to be very helpful and we work and succeed together.
Website Growth with SEO Requires Patience and Team Work!
1. Find people in your niche (or similar) to work with.
Don't be scared to initiate conversation.
Email, message people, send snail mail - whatever you have to do to contact a webmaster who is in the same niche as you, DO IT.
The goal is to group people together and remain relevant, thus helping you work towards being an authority figure on Google.
If five bloggers who run news sites work together, then they will ALL grow faster. If they compete against each other, then they will take FOREVER to grow. You can be competitors and friends. You can grow together and all make money, or you can be stubborn folks who end up selling their site or closing it down.
If several forum administrators work together, post something about each site (even if it's in a general chat node), then those people also grow faster while providing more options for users to have a good browsing experience.
2. Share and social media trades.
#1 rule of plug trades - keep it relevant.
#2 rule of plug trades - keep it even.
Plug trades are when you share something from a friend's site, onto your site.
I run a news site. I often post links to my friends news sites in my articles. They do the same thing for me. This helps ALL of us grow together. We agree to keep things even and we pick the content that we want to link to.
If I send a friend 1,000 visitors in a day or week, then they will try to send me the same amount back. At the end of the day, if the numbers are at least close, then that's fine. Do not waste time trying to get it to be a perfect 1:1 trade. It's possible, but it's not a great way to spend time.
When you do plug trades, always try your best to keep the content relevant. For example, if I write an article on the 2016 Election and so does my friend, then I will plug a link to his article in mine. He will link back to my article in his. Or he might link to something else of mine.
See how that works?
You don't have to link to someones homepage. You don't need a long ridiculous blog roll or friend links in the footers
What about social media trades? That works too. If you post something of mine on your Facebook page, then I'll do the same thing for you.
For social media trades, try to make sure the amount of "likes" or "fans" you have is similar. If I have 1,000,000 fans on my page and you have 1,000, then we're not very even. We can still work together, but I might plug/share something of yours ONCE, and you might have to post 10+ items of mine to keep up with the trade. You and your growth group will work that out yourselves.
Example from a blog that talks about animals, linking to another blog that also talks about animals - in specific, a blog post about male lions. Notice how the topics are relevant and the person chose text that matches the blog post? That's called doing a nice job and keeping it relevant.
You want to stay in or around your own niche because that will have the most effective results on search engines and also send your readers to something similar. One major concept we have to focus on is giving the reader a great experience. If readers enjoy your site, and even the sites you send them to, then the reader is more inclined to share your links on social media or to friends via email. Providing a good user experience seems to be an aspect now in terms of search engine ranks, so we want to make sure we stay on topic and give the best possible experience to readers.
Think of the reader and give them a very nice relevant experience and they will more likely become your customers or return visitors.
Some people ask "Why are we categorizing everything?" and "What does it matter what niche we are in if we write about many topics?" We do this because your blog should focus on ONE main topic. I know it's a very hard task, and I have failed so many blogs because I am personally scatterbrained, but imagine what it's like for your readers! They come to read a blog post about a fancy buffalo chicken wing recipe, but then they see an article on video games. It makes no sense, right? This is probably the toughest job about blogging. You have so much to say about so many things and it's SO HARD to pick just one topic. I promise you, that if you stick to one main topic, that you will gain so many more readers over the long haul because you have a much better chance at becoming an authority figure in the search engines. Search engine visitors are usually the best audience you can find. Why? Because they were looking for you and they finally found you!
Now here's the tricky part...
After you find a blog article that you enjoy, you will copy the link to it and include that link inside a paragraph on your blog. If you're a parenting blog and you picked the blog titled "how to make teens not rebel against parents" - then try to include a link to that in an article about raising teenagers. You will chose anchor text (the words that link to the link) that is relevant to their post. In this case, you may highlight "unruly teenagers" and link that to it. As long as it is similar to what they wrote about, it is good to go!
You may think "I can mention a bunch of blogs in one post" but be careful with that. Only mention one person per blog post if your blog post is very short. If you write a really long article, then feel free to post an extra link or two. You do NOT want to post too many links in an article because then it looks like spam and it may turn off your readers. You need to focus on quality first. If it looks like a spam article, then that's what it is. If you have to ask yourself, then it's already a mess. Stay focused on creating quality, useful, and relevant content for your readers. If that involves sharing a link to a relevant quality resource, then that's fine. But don't just spam every link you can find. That's bad, wrong, and not OK.
Finally- share your own blog post on your social media accounts. You'll get clicks to YOUR link and the person you mentioned will get a few new visitors too. Whenever someone mentions you on their blog, you'll see new visitors as well. You'll also slowly rank up in the search engines and see more users from that source.
Don't forget - always let the other webmaster know that you mentioned them.
You can message them directly via starting a conversation with them. You can also reply in the comments section for their blog post and tag them like this: "Hey - I posted your blog article about funny dogs on my animal blog! Here's the link!" Eventually you may have something worked out where you don't need to message/email/contact each other after every trade. You just know what to do and when to do it.
Building a relationship with other bloggers is how you network and help each other grow.
When people mention your website, PLEASE find time to mention them back on your own blog. The point of this is to help each other grow and to provide a relevant and pleasant reading experience for our audience. A good site is always shared, right? If you have to set up a conversation and work out a deal to do a weekly exchange, that's totally fine. Just be very polite and always return the favor.
Keep track of the people who mention you and mention them back. You'll find yourself gravitating towards the people in your niche and you may eventually build partnerships with only a handful of similar bloggers and come up with your own personal schedule and that is great! Now if a technology blog mentions you, and you're a yoga blog - I can't tell you to find a way to mention that technology blog. Honestly, I would just say thanks and not mention them back. The reason is because the technology blog and a yoga blog really have no reason to interact. They're not even remotely close to being on the same topic at all unless it's an article about using FitBit in a Yoga class.
This is why it's important to stay ON TOPIC and only network with blogs in YOUR NICHE. I cover news articles, so if a video game site mentions me - I can't promise that I'll mention them back. My news readers won't care about video games. I love games, but I have to keep my blog on topic. Everyone must be aware of this and work hard to stay on topic. SEO is about user experience and relevance.
If you provide a poor user experience with irrelevant content, then you're getting kicked out! Sorry, but we want QUALITY over quantity. This isn't your get rich quick scheme, this is us investing our time together and working hard to provide a quality experience for our readers. We want the hardest working bloggers!
What happens if you keep mentioning people's blog posts, but they don't ever mention you back? That's easy. If you notice that someone in particular doesn't mention anyone else, then stop mentioning them. Perhaps contact people first and set up an agreement. Or maybe just find another quality source that has a more friendly webmaster. Not everyone is nice. Some people really are jerks, but that's not your fault.
Watch your audience and search engine ranks slowly increase.
You didn't spend any money on advertising or SEO, you have more readers over time, you're building relevant links on niche blogs, and you've increased your personal network of bloggers in the same niche as you. This is great!!
This should have a very nice long term SEO effect on your site. This is NOT an overnight project, but rather an experiment that you're continuously part of which should yield much better results.
Let's get to work and report back with our growth and success.