So you have laboured intensively over your PHP, CSS, and HTML for months and months to finally unveil your ultimate masterpiece: a unique dating website with the most advanced chat and dating features available. Or, perhaps you finally pulled out the old credit card and purchased a readymade script, and have finally figured out how to successfully upload the thing onto the net. Either way, I’m sure you’ve already decided on the niche you plan to fill, be it for a specific geographical location, or a specific group or subculture. After all, creating a general and international site may seem appealing at first, but that niche has been way overfilled. Besides, who wants to join a dating website where the other 16 members are dispersed all over the globe? Nevertheless, the days and weeks are passing by, and the members you thought would flock to your new and amazing creation just aren’t coming, and even your closest friends aren’t checking their profiles anymore. It’s time to get your dating website noticed. It’s time to get found on Google.
The process of getting your website found on the search engines is called seo (Search Engine Optimization), and the search engine you need to concentrate most of your efforts on is Google. Google is now king of the hill, and if you can impress this great king, it’s likely you will also impress the rest of the nobles (i.e. Yahoo, MSN, etc.). This will not be an easy task, as there are millions of other worthy subjects also desperately vying for Google’s attention. Unfortunately, Google only has room for so many at the head table. This is because the majority of internet searches never go beyond the first two pages. So if you’re not in the top 20 for at least one keyword or phrase, you might as well not even exist. So no matter how awesome you think your new dating site is, and no matter how much your friends say they like it, it will take a significant number of members to call the thing a success. So unless you’re planning on doing some local advertising, which can be a good idea at times, your best bet is to vie for one of these cherished positions.
The first thing you have to do is pick your keywords and phrases. These are the words and phrases that people will type into Google and ultimately find your site. Unless you have picked a domain name that already contains your keywords, like datingdivorcedgrandmothers.com, you will have to figure out what words people are already searching for in regards to your unique niche, and create a title tag with these words. The best way to do this is to find keyword tools on the internet to help you figure out what people are searching for. Opening up a Google AdWords account can be a great idea, if for nothing else but to use Google’s keyword tool. This will tell you how many times certain words and phrases are searched for every month. You’ll want to pick words and phrases that are relevant to your site, and that get searched for a moderate amount of times each month. You don’t want to try to optimize your site for the keyword dating, because there is simply too much competition. And unless you plan to spend a million dollars a year on an seo company, as many of these sites are doing, you won’t stand a chance. Your best efforts are spent fighting for keyphrases like divorced dating or Detroit dating. Better yet: divorced dating in Detroit.
When you’ve figured out what keywords you’re going to vie for, it’s time to make sure you’ve placed these words in your title tags. I’m always surprised at how many new dating sites are using their actual name for the title. Nobody will be searching for: thegreatloveboutique.com, unless of course they’ve heard it somewhere. Once again, think of the words people will be using in their actual searches that could lead them to your site. When you’ve placed these words in your title tags, changing them up a bit for each page of your site, you then need to make sure you’ve also placed them in your meta-tags, along with dispersing them throughout the content of your site. You can even place these keywords in your alt tags for images, and title tags for links. However, don’t go overboard. If you use these keywords too much, Google will penalize you for what they call spamming. Try to keep it as natural as you can. If you don’t know how to do any of this, your best bet is to Google how. Without knowing how to do this, you’re site really doesn’t stand a chance.
Although there is a great deal more you should learn about onsite optimization (what you do to your site to get found), the majority of your time should be spent on acquiring links for your site (offsite optimization). This is when another website links to your website. Google considers this a kind of vote, and the more votes you get, especially from similar sites, the more Google will push you up the ranks. Now here is the process I would go through. First, submit your site to as many dating directories as you can. You should start with the high PR (PageRank) sites, and move your way down. If you don’t have a Google toolbar that shows PageRank at the top of your screen, get one. Google it and download one. The higher the PageRank, the more valuable the link will be back to yours. And the more links you get, the more PageRank you will get (just be warned that Google only updates their PageRank on the screen ever few months). Many of these directories will ask for you to link back to them. This is called a reciprocal link, and it’s a bit of a pain in the neck. If you know how to enter links into your code, do so at your best discretion. Reciprocal links can help, especially if they are from a relevant and high PR site, but they are not as valuable as a one-way link.
When you’re done with directories, it would also be a good idea to look for other dating sites that might want to trade links with you. However, be warned. Many dating sites will require you to first give them a link before they consider your site. You then take the time to enter their link on your site, and you never do hear back from them. Even though most website owners eventually remove the links to sites that never link back, these mean sites count on the few who don’t check. After a few weeks of trading links with dating sites and directories, you will likely want to put your head into a noose. The dishonesty and selfishness of even the most successful dating sites will absolutely astonish you. If you’re ambitious, you will monitor your backlinks (links to your site) every few months, because some sites will remove them to make your reciprocal link a one-way link from you to them.
All in all, however, directory links, reciprocal links, and 3-way links are not worth that much anymore. This is because Google is hoping sites acquire links the natural way. This would happen if someone really likes your site and adds a link to it from their own relevant site. If they use your keywords in the link, this link becomes even more valuable. However, you’ll find out eventually that not many people do this, unless a site is really, really amazing, or the content is especially unique or incredible. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to try to solicit links from people who do find your site. The best way to do this is to offer up a textarea box that contains your link code, using your keywords as the link or anchor text. Above the code can you can place a nice little note soliciting a link. Once again, not many site owners will do this for nothing, but every now and again you might be pleasantly surprised. Just don’t promise them a link back unless you’re actually intending to consider it. Way too many dating sites already practice this dishonest behaviour. Then, when your link requests have been strategically placed throughout your site, where admiring visitors can find them, you will probably want to consider advertising. Google AdWords now provides one of the most cost-effective ways of advertising. This advertising is targeted, so people looking for a particular dating site can find yours, at least until your site works its way up the ranks and gets found that way. Best of luck.