For about a year my company has been utilizing a new set of techniques to help us in our online marketing efforts. While the techniques are not unique our results are in some cases singularly unique and valuable.
Even if you are new to online marketing you probably already know that some of the main “types” or areas of SEO are:
1. On Page – things you can do on your site to make your site rank better (think rich on-topic text, titles, descriptions, keyword choice, site structure, interlinking etc.)
2. Off Page – things that can be done on other people’s sites to make your site more popular (think linking and creation of pages and content on other sites that influence the search engines and push your efforts forward)
Aside from these, there are actually many other, sometimes equally important arenas where you can act to increase your site’s popularity and rankings for specific keywords. These include:
- Properties of the website itself – the age and provenance of the site (getting the right site may involve finding an existing site with the right qualities and purchasing it from the current owner, or finding an expired domain that is either for sale or even dead and building it back up)
- Redirects – taking sites or pages that are popular especially if they are popular for your target keywords, and redirecting them using linking 301 redirects or other redirects to concentrate their linking/power toward your target site
- Behavior on tracked sites, search engines, etc. Search engines are capable of seeing lots of activities and inferring real popularity of a website- think bounce rates, CTR – basically the same things that Google uses to determine “quality scores” in adwords.
- Location of of your site/server – this means IP Address, the identity of your domain registrar, the geographic location associated with your IP Address, Hosting neighborhood, unique IP vs. Shared hosting, Hosting and OS environment, and the like
Looking at this incomplete list, it stuck me that aside from the very visible link acquisition and site building activities there are a lot of very valuable activities that contribute to a site’s dominance of a keyword, but which are much harder to see. I call these activities SEO Dark Matter because we can sense they are there but we may have some difficulty actually detecting and monitoring them.
For example – if you see a site rise in Google’s rankings for a tough keyword like “contact lenses”, checking its backlinks and the pages of the site itself will not allow you to see that the strength came from an old on-topic website that you redirected to the new site – you wont see the 10,000 incoming links that give it strength and you will probably be fooled by the 20 incoming directory links that have been purchased for the sole purpose of fooling you.
Another example – imagine your site falls for a target keyword – even you may have trouble detecting that the reason was that someone was generating a lot of erroneous search engine traffic to your website and has suddenly stopped that activity – sending the search engines a clear signal that your website no longer deserves the rankings it has.
That’s SEO Dark Matter – it’s harder to detect and it’s the next frontier of online marketing. At least for me.