I registered http://www.php-developer.org/ on March 15, 2009, and about one year later the website reached the top position for “php developer” in Google.com. The website also achieved a good ranking position for these important PHP related terms, further contributing to overall search engine traffic:
- php server variables
- preg_match generator
- php remove html entities
- php video streaming
- check your link popularity
The website’s traffic has been steadily increasing. Currently it averages around 150 visitors per day, and about 4000 monthly visitors.
Like all other new websites, the traffic started from zero. By using “do it yourself strategies” for search engine optimization, I finally achieved the goal of reaching the 100 visitors per day mark.
This is a success story which I would like to share with any SEO newbie, and with those readers that are looking forward to starting their own websites and hoping to increase website traffic.
Strategy #1: Set Your Website’s Goals and Assess Your Current Abilities
The road from zero traffic to hundreds of daily unique visitors is not an accident or an overnight success. But it is a product of hard work, determination, patience and goal setting.
Before I registered the domain, I did think deeply about my goals for starting a website. And then I related those goals to my current abilities (those things I can do well). I wrote down the following:
- My goal is to start a PHP website that showcases my skills in PHP programming.
- To make the website more useful, I need to show visitors the actual working application, with an open source PHP script which they can use, practice with and improve further.
- I also need to share my webmaster tips in other technologies, such as WordPress and Blogger, since I have some fairly good working experience with them.
Assessing your expertise is important if you are going to start your own website and become an authority. Your website will never achieve the level of authority status if you are starting a website that does not showcase your own skills and expertise.
You need to relate your goals to how they can help a website’s reader, because the primary way you earn organic links is as a reward for good content.
Strategy #2: Register a Good Domain Name
After I formulated the goals, I started working on registering a good domain name. This topic can be quite complex, and the decision process is not simple and straightforward.
Remember that once you have registered the domain name, you cannot easily change it. You need to re-register another domain name, which can be costly.
It will be worse if the content has been online for a long time already. Doing 301 redirects or canonical tags is the right solution for changing a domain name, but you will not get back your previous traffic overnight.
Therefore, I highly recommend thinking twice before registering a domain name. Details on registering a good domain name that can contribute to becoming an authority are discussed in this article: http://tools.devshed.com/c/a/Domain-Name-Tips/Build-Domain-Authority-by-Choosing-the-Right-Domain-Name/
The following are the reasons I selected php-developer.org for my domain name:
- It directly relates to my content, services and expertise.
- It is short, easy to spell and remember. My readers can easily type it into a browser’s address bar.
- The domain name contains a keyword that can benefit the site’s search engine ranking and lets visitors know right away what my website’s content is all about.
The length of time for which you register your domain name is not a factor in Google rankings; it’s up to your budget. I renew mine every two years with Network Solutions. Of course, if you have the budget, you can register it for longer, provided you have a good, long-term plan for your website.
You can choose any good registrar you know and trust.
Strategy #3: Select a Blogging Platform Optimized for SEO
Once I registered my domain, I began to consider which website blogging platform I wanted to use. I used the following criteria:
- Easy to edit for onsite SEO – and since I have working knowledge of PHP, I should select a PHP- based CMS/template.
- A fairly good review and recommendations from SEO professionals.
- Secure and constantly updated.
- Optimized for blogging.
- Easy to set up.
- Free or open source.
Using the criteria listed above, I chose WordPress. The PHP template is simple to edit and customize. There are also a lot of plug-ins which you can use. Search engine professionals like Matt Cutts use and recommend WordPress. It is constantly updated by the developers. Most of the big hosting companies even have one-click installation for WordPress. And best of all, it is free.
Strategy #4: Select a Web Host with Quality Uptime
There are certainly a lot of web hosts from which to choose. But selecting a web host with poor uptime can adversely affect your visitors’ online experience. Also, a web host with poor uptime can translate to loss of visitors from search engines. Other things that you need to know when selecting a web host include:
- Reviews and ratings, which you can find abundantly online. You can start here.
- Get a paid hosting account. Free web hosting does not do any good if you aim is to increase traffic from search engines over the long term.
- Shared hosting is enough. You do not need a dedicated hosting or VPS account to get started.
- PHP-developer.org needed to use PHP as the server side script. So I needed to ensure that I could showcase PHP tools. This meant that any web host I would sign up with must use the Apache web server, the Linux operating system, PHP, and the MySQL database. Know what your technical requirements are going in, and consider them when evaluating a web hosting company.
Knowing how the Internet and web hosts work help me to understand things better when dealing with hosting-related terminology.
Strategy #5: Create Content for Visitors, and Add Useful Tools Periodically
I then started adding content on a periodic basis. I know it depends on the time I have available, but I make sure that the content and tools:
- Illustrate the complete process, especially if I am writing a short tutorial.
- Are original.
- Offer ways for the visitor to further practice what I’ve illustrated – so I offer links to source code they can download, tools, etc.
- Include useful screenshots to illustrate points for clarity.
When writing content and selecting post titles, I follow the tips in this tutorial on website content planning techniques.
And writing for long tail traffic in search engines can prove quite useful as well.
Strategy #6: Improving Onsite SEO and Website Performance
I did implement an onsite SEO for my php-developer.org WordPress-based website. I am doing onsite SEO on a continual basis (as well as adding content), looking for possible problems and then acting on what I find. Onsite SEO can be quite broad, so tackling a few steps to improve your site on a daily basis is recommended.
Below are the tips I use when implementing onsite SEO (this includes speeding up the website, implementing security and onsite SEO in general):
Onsite SEO Tutorials
- Onsite SEO Checklist from Google – http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Onsite-SEO-Checklist-from-Google-SEO-Report-Card/
- More Onsite SEO from Google SEO Report Card- http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/More-Onsite-SEO-from-Google-SEO-Report-Card/
- Improving Onsite SEO- http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Improving-Onsite-SEO-Tips-from-Google/
- WordPress SEO Tips- http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/WordPress-SEO-Tips-Benchmarking-Matt-Cutts-Blog/
- Dealing with Duplicate Content- http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Duplicate-Content-in-SEO-Detection-and-Prevention-Techniques/
Administrative Tasks Relating to Security, Speeding up the Website and SEO
- .htaccess SEO tutorials – http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/htaccess-SEO-and-Security-Tips/
- Speeding up the Website with Gzip encoding and caching- http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Wordpress-SEO-Optimization-Enable-Gzip-Encoding-and-Caching/
- WordPress database tutorial and security – http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/WordPress-Database-Tutorial-Security-Backup-and-Efficiency-Tip
- WordPress security tips – http://tools.devshed.com/c/a/Blog-Help/WordPress-Security-Tips/
- Prevent Comment spam – http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Prevent-Comment-Spam-from-Damaging-Your-WordPress-Website/
- Website security tips for SEO – http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Website-Security-Tips-for-SEO/
Strategy #7: Getting Quality Links to the Website
This is what I think is the most important strategy aside from building great content on your website. This is important when building authority and relevance for your website in the search engines.
I carefully examined the back links history using Google Webmaster Tools, and this is how I got certain quality and authoritative links:
Link from WordPress.org – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sort-searchresult-by-title/. I got this link because I wrote a WordPress plug-in. At this time, the plug-in has been downloaded 813 times, which of course makes me happy.
Link from phpdeveloper.org – http://www.phpdeveloper.org/news/12464. This is actually a product of a link bait strategy for the WordPress plug-in I wrote.
Link from Raintpl.com – http://www.raintpl.com/Links-152. I became so interested in this PHP template engine that I decided to write a review about it, and then post it on the site. As a result, the template developer thanked me and links to the content.
Links from big websites such as unsri.ac.id – http://jaketkuning.unsri.ac.id/. This is again the product of a link bait strategy. I did not ask for a link, but users will link to the tool if they find it useful.
I also implemented guest post strategies outlined here to get organic links: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Link-Trading-Help/Organic-Link-Building-Tips-Guest-Blogging-for-SEO/
Of course, the improvements do not stop after one year of having implemented those seven strategies. I will continue to add more website content, improve the site’s SEO aspects and get more links.