As you may remember, we recently launched Sports Fan 4, a sports site focused on delivering Boston sports news and opinion with the voice of a fan. We launched the site on March 31, 2009 and kept our expectations reserved. While we felt we had a great team of writers for the site and knew that there is no satiating the thirst for sports talk in the City of Boston, we also knew from past experience how tough it is to get a new site up and running.
Well, a few days ago Google updated their public Page Rank for the first time since we launched SP4 and low and behold we were ecstatic to see we were upgraded to a PageRank 5!
While we knew we had optimized the site well for our readers (which also usually corresponds to good SEO too), we weren’t quite expecting our first Page Rank update to land us with a nice juicy 5. To be honest, a 3 or a 4 would have had us high-fiving. So you can imagine how pumped we were when we saw the Google Page Rank toolbar halfway full.
How we got a Page Rank 5 in Two Months
But enough talk about how happy we were, what you’re really interested in is how we did it. As with most SEO tips, the real truth is locked inside Google’s walls but here’s five steps we took that likely helped us achieve such a nice Page Rank so soon.
- Comments, comments, comments
- Twitter, twitter, twitter
- Thesis Theme
- Unique content
- Our Network
When Josh and I were sitting down and hashing out ideas for the site, one point I made repeatedly over and over is that Josh had to take initiative and comment on other blogs. Simply put, you cannot blog on an island (figuratively) if you want to have success. A huge misconception with blogging is that it is a solo activity, where the blogger just pumps out content isolated from the outside world.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Blogging is really about building a community with your readers and fellow bloggers. Commenting is thus a great way to build backlinks, expose your brand, and connect with other bloggers.
I could easily devote a whole post to this topic, but Brett Borders already wrote a fantastic guide on creating a solid online presence by commenting. Commenting is a big reason we have over 3,000 links pointed to the Sports Fan 4 domain as of this post.
We set Josh up with a Twitter account on May 15 and he immediately began using it to connect with other sports fans. The key here is we setup a strategy for Josh to connect and communicate via Twitter.
Promoting posts was a secondary aim. It’s been a great strategy so far as Twitter has delivered traffic, guest writers and backlinks to his site. When you approach Twitter with the goal of communicating with others, the promotion will happen organically. We also installed a Twitter widget which kept fresh content flowing to the homepage.
Out of the box, Thesis theme is relatively well tuned for SEO. We tweaked it and tweaked it until we were comfortable that it was very finely tuned. Here’s a great SEO tutorial for Thesis theme. Also check out our guide to showing all posts in a category on one page.
The quick tips I’ll give are to show only titles outside the homepage and to enable teasers on the homepage. Also, show excerpts on the homepage. These three tweaks will keep duplicate content penalties to a minimum.
A big boost to Sports Fan 4 came when we progressed from writing game wrap ups to producing unique content not commonly found on other sports blogs. I wrote a post about Five Life Lessons From “He Hate Me”, Josh wrote a post on How to Spot Steroid Users and began producing player profiles, while Matt published a list of things to do when the Sox game is rained out.
For the most part, these posts were content you could not find elsewhere and we all know that Google loves unique content. Not only does Google love it, but other bloggers and readers do too. These were some of our most highly trafficked and linked to posts on the site.
A tip that really only applies to some of our audience. At The 42nd Estate we have a network of sites and on all those sites we post links back to our other sites. It makes sense since all the sites are part of The 42nd Estate’s network. Most of these sites have Page Ranks of 3 or 4, which gave Sports Fan 4 quality links right from the start. In other words, utilize your existing sites when launching new sites.
As you can see, there were no black hat (nor grey hat) SEO methods used here. Neither were any of them complicated or tough to initialize. Having said that, there was a lot of time spent in producing solid, unique content, reading and commenting on hundreds of blogs, connecting with over 1,000 people on Twitter. It required time and energy, but luckily those are the only two real costs to our strategy. That means you too can implement these tips and watch your Page Rank soar!
Now there were other steps we took that played a role in our Page Rank increase, but for space considerations I’ll leave it at those five. If you enjoyed this how to post and want to hear more about how Sports Fan 4 increased its Page Rank, or you have your own Page Rank/SEO tips, leave a comment below and let us know!