If I asked you to sum up Search Engine Optimization in a single word, what word would you choose?
Backlinks? Citations? Link-Juice? (compound nouns count, right?)
Those are all decent, and will get you most of the way there when you're trying to rank a website, but there is a better word you can use to describe SEO to people.
It's the same word that Google uses. Its the reason back links are important, and it's the reason SSL certificates are important, and it's the reason long form content with good grammar is important, it's the reason you measure bounce rate and load times.
Have you figured out the word yet? I'll tell you.
At the end of the day, search engine optimization and ranking an affiliate site on Google comes down to one thing: Trust. If the users don't trust you, you won't rank. If Google doesn't trust you, you won't rank.
You have to have trust or you have nothing.
When viewed in this light, SEO becomes entirely different. Instead of looking for "ranking signals" like a dipshit, you start looking for trust signals.
When viewing SEO from a trust perspective, you start to see the importance in an SSL certificate. It promises your users that they're actually on the site they think they're on.
You start to see why social signals are important: Many genuine people interacting with your content means good experiences. We're social creatures, so seeing social interaction around a product we're interested in speaks to its veracity and trustworthiness.
You can understand why back links matter: If a lot of people are showing you as a source of their knowledge, it must mean your information is reliable.
You realize that other things you thought were important – like keyword density and internal linking – aren't really all that important at all.
Now that isn't to say you shouldn't do those things – you absolutely should.
I'm just saying that maybe they aren't as important as a lot of other internet marketers say they are.
What's really important, when it comes to search engine optimization – and especially affiliate marketing – is building up trust.
So approaching SEO from this angle, I'd like to take a look at some non-convention SEO tactics that I use to build up trust in the eyes of my users and the search engines.
How to Build Trust
Trust is a tricky thing. Now obviously back links build trust. This is why PBNs have been and (for the foreseeable future) will be a great way to get rankings. But PBNs only provide links – not trust.
I've employed a few different methods that – in my humble opinion – are just as powerful as a good PBN.
Now, before we go on, I do want to preface this and say that these methods aren't free. If you're looking for a silver bullet, this isn't it. I'm not going to show you my secret 100% free method for driving unlimited google traffic, or whatever the fuck.
Just some tips I've found through trial and error and a few years experience. Alright? Okay, let's go!
Incorporate that shit, son!
Go spend the $200 or whatever it is on a corporation for yourself. Seriously! Now, you don't have to get a corporation for every niche site you own, but having at least one legal corporation to put everything under is a great idea.
This immediately lets your visitors (humans and spiders alike) know that you are a real business. You are licensed with your state/country/province as a real, legal business entity.
Do you know how much trust that immediately shits on to your page? Like. A ton.
BestCeramicHairStraighteners.Net isn't just some fly-by-night amazon scam – it's a real business, run by a real person, who absolutely does exist and should be trusted.
You're basically getting a government to vouch for your credibility.
And once you get a corporation set up, you can move all of your web properties under it as assets. Depending on how you do this, there may also be tax and legal advantages.
Buy Private Ads!
Yup. Buy ads for your affiliate site. While I don't specifically mean AdSense, I'd love it if you tried that and let me know how you did in the SERPs.
Let me tell you about an SEO gig I had one time: This guy wanted a page ranked just like his competitor. And his competitor was kicking major ass. This was a national keyword with tons of heavy competition, and somehow this competitor was powered up.
I couldn't find a PBN, so if there was one it was damn good because I can sniff those things out like a fucking blood hound.
I did, however, notice that the competitor had one really strong, authoritative site linking to him. Tons of links, from tons of pages. This was more than just a guest post, and it was passive some serious link juice.
I visited this website and found the competitor's link: It was a tiny little 150×150 .gif advertisement in the sidebar of this authority site.
The ad itself had strong, keyword rich title text, and was a dofollow link. On hundreds of pages. Of a massive authority site.
What a great fucking strategy! Who cares if the ad even delivers any traffic, the Google boost alone is worth the money!
If you can find a strong, niche-related authority site that's selling advertising, see if you can strike up a deal. That's a great way to get tons and tons of back links featured.
Try and talk them into making it a do-follow link so you get that juice – pay extra if you need to!
And if there is an authority site that you want to be on that isn't taking guest posts or anything like that, consider approaching them with an offer to advertise. As long as you're bringing real value on your own affiliate site, it shouldn't be a big ask.
Get a real address & phone number
Nothing says, "I'm not some shady internet marketing scam" like a phone number and address.
And thanks to the internet, both of those things are easily available!
The United States Postal Service will let you street address P.O. boxes now, so instead of having PO Box 14540, Jackson, Illinois 383838 you can have:
433 Tiger Street #14540
Jackson, Illinois 383838
That's very trustworthy, I'd say! And official USPS post office boxes can be had for as little as $12 a quarter in some areas (like mine).
If you don't feel like ponying up that cash, then use a service like ViaBox that lets you have a physical mailing address for free. If you actually get any letters or packages, they charge to ship them to you or they destroy them for you.
Phone numbers are also easy to get! Just use Google Voice to get yourself a free number and list it as a "customer service" number. Instatrust!
While you're at it: Get a Google My Business Listing
I mean, hell! If you have a real corporation, a real address, and a real phone number, you might as well let Google know your little affiliate site is a real business.
After all, if you aren't running a real business, what are you even doing? Playing internet?
You may not think about it like that, but running an affiliate website is a real business. An internet business. And even though you're location independent, it doesn't mean your business has to be (or should be).
Summing it up
If trust is what gets a website to rank, and the point of SEO is to build trust, then doesn't it make sense that making your website as legitimate as possible would increase that trust and, therefore, your ranks?
You know what they say: Incorporate yourself for the tax and legal advantages, and stay incorporated for the SERPs. Or something.
And once you're incorporated you can do things like get a phone number and address and Google business listing! All of which cements your legitimacy as a business.
And being a legitimate business is good for business!
You should also find niche-related sites with high rankings and see about getting do-follow ads. Because real businesses advertise. And if the advertisement also acts as a nice little back link….
What I want you to do with this post is use it to change your view of SEO. It's not all about social signals and ranking factors and back links.
It's really about trust.
And there are tons of ways you can build trust on the web outside of PBNs and SSL certificates.
What are some of your favorite "odd ball" SEO techniques that you use to drive results? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear 'em!