RealTime IT News

'Bounciness' in Site Rankings

HerRoom.com, a site that sells ladies underwear, had quite the traffic problem. Despite loads of visits to its bra site, sales were flat.

Turns out the site's section featuring videos of women bounce testing the company's exercise bras had become quite the hit on YouTube.com.

Scattered all over the video-sharing site were women jogging in place to test how well support holds up for an assortment of cup sizes, and serving up all titters and snickers galore, likely to mostly high school boys. Traffic soared, but too bad none of those high school boys wanted to actually buy the exercise bras.

What to do? In this case, they called in an search engine optimization, or SEO expert Sally Falkow, president of Expansion Plus, a Web marketing consultancy. They went to work on getting interest in the bounce test from beyond the YouTube universe.

The site did some research of its own and put together a podcast featuring a medical expert warning women that not wearing a good exercise bra while working out or jogging for example can actually damage breast tissue from all the bouncing.

News organizations soon picked up notice and stories followed on MSNBC, and other general interest sites and publications. The site succeeded in turning titters into traffic that turned into bra sales.

The moral of the story? Well, there's a few. For one, explained Falkow at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in New York, the quality of your linking and traffic matters. Don't forget that rule.

OK, you may ask, but what if you don't have the benefit of bouncing flesh to help grab eyeballs? How else can you get bouncy rankings and link love?

Stick to some fundamentals, and don't forget the old standbys, experts say. Here are a few they listed for building traffic and placement with the search engines:

  • Remember that Google and all the other search engines pay attention to where you link as much as the quality of the link and who's linking to you.

    So that means linking to sites that are updated frequently, with lots of incoming and outgoing links on pages. But word to the wise, adds Chris Boggs, manager of Brulent.com. Yes, links from authoritative sources are probably the most important factor on page ranks with search engines.

  • Think through the long-term value of social media links when assessing the value of a social networking site link from, say Digg.com, Boggs adds. (Hey, I love Digg, but he's spot on about the fickle nature of social media audiences on link-ranking sites: Links can become stale quickly.) Which leads us back to more of the basics:
  • Monitor inbound links and use what you know/find out to structure advanced strategies, especially as you add reciprocal links as well.

    After all, Boggs adds, without understanding the inbound links to your pages and pages of your competitors, you'll never get a good sense of the inbound link footprint your industry may have as well.

  • When it comes to reciprocal linking, moderation is key. Boggs says a little link love goes a long way in this area. Remember that search engines are always looking for abusers and ferreting links gone wild pages out of their indexes. So try not to get carried away.
  • Do your homework on link directories. Some are great; others have curious businesses listed. One of the best-known directories, for example, is Best of the Web (BOTW.org). It lists more than 100,000 categories and has long been considered an authoritative site. (Drill deep and get deep category links to your pages.)
  • When trying to reach out to people who write content, bloggers that are respected authorities in your industry, for example, be creative and not "salesy." You'll be called out right away by the writers. Plus, the haters that are out there, as Boggs aptly calls them, will flame away. Try not to feed their fires.
  • Keep in mind site sponsorships, blog mentions and even press releases to help draw attention to your site and build page rank.
  • Speaking of dealing with the press, think of the push/pull paradigm when dealing with press/bloggers, says Lee Odden, the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing.

    By push, he means use outreach to get noticed: wire service releases, networking, pitching writers and making sure your site provides an RSS feed on updates, promotions. The pull part refers to how you get them to come to you: your own site newsroom, links on social media sites that say something, and, of course, media coverage.

  • Before reaching out to media: do your homework.

    The stories of PR people or other company reps who have no clue about what the press person/journo/blogger write about are numerous. Don't be one of them. Instead, become a reliable source rather than a flack to be avoided.

  • Understand the difference between journalists and bloggers, Odden adds. I'm not sure I agree with all of this, but this is his take on the differences:

    Journalists hang up on you, but bloggers will embarrass you. Journalists research articles according to beats with editorial oversight. Bloggers tend to write opinion. So don't send a press release to a blogger -- they don't write articles, they link to them!

  • When you do get some good publicity, such as a mention in an article, do publicize your publicity. Journalists call it shameless self-promotion and engage in it all the time with their articles.
  • When you send out e-mail pitches, don't be sloppy or spammy. As the experts like to remind the best PR practitioners out there, avoid broadcast e-mail pitches that say: Dear [blank]. If you do broadcast pitches, personalize them.
  • As Odden says, don't be a one-trick pony. Once you get coverage, keep coming back. Develop relationships and continue to send story ideas.
  • And finally, never assume that a journo has to write about your company. And please, don't forget to say thank you, even if you don't like that person.

    Remember the rules, the basics and find a compelling story to help get your product in front of the audience you want to reach. Remember that your business has a story. Or, if you're like me, your business is the story. Hopefully, it'll get you the bounce you're looking for.

    Erin Joyce is executive editor of InternetNews.com.