I’ve been talking a lot about SEO lately. Google Authorship this, social signals that, links here and good content there.

All for a precise reason. Before I get into that. Let me say something that we’ve all been thinking.

Is SEO Dead? Did the pandas, penguins and other wild animals beat the SEO ‘gurus’?

To be brutally honest, they did to some degree. The good news is, that out of all the SEO bullshit Google has been throwing at us during the past year, something good has emerged.

A new age of SEO. A better set of rules, a fairer set of standards and a more fundamental version of SEO. Call it what you will, I call it authority SEO. What is authority SEO?

Authority SEO is really searched engine marketing. Fundamentally it’s marketing your own website, promoting its content and using untapped strategies to drive hordes of visitors directly to your content without having to use a single automated link building tool.

Black Hat SEO is finished with! It’s through!

Once again to be very honest with you; I am glad. It means no more crappy websites ranking for terms they have no business ranking for. I just as much as the next person want truly relevant and authoritative results when I search a term in Google. If I’m looking for medical advice, I want to see results by real professionals; not geeky marketers who know how to build juicy backlinks.

Authority SEO is all about building an authority website. A digital property that has true value. How do you know when your ‘digital property’ has true value? Average time spent on the site!

If visitors aren’t spending at least 4 minutes on your website, it’s not good enough. You want to build sites that are true resources. If you’re going to build a dog training site, it better covers everything to do with dog training. You want to build a one-stop resource for people in the niche.

You also want to build a credible, reputable avatar/personality or presence in the niche. You want to be well known and trusted by Google, that’s the bottom line. Once you achieve that, that authoritative domain status; ranking for keywords becomes stupidly easy. When you get that status; Google will instantly rank you for competitive terms.

It’s the only way to rank insanely quickly for competitive keywords. Think about sites like Amazon, Yahoo, even blogs like Askmen, whenever they publish something. Even if it’s barely related to the subjects the site covers; they will instantly rank for competitive terms.

The Authority Site SEO Blueprint

Authority site SEO blueprint

Step One: Good Niche Selection And Keyword Research

Authority Site Keyword Research

If you’re targeting a small niche, stop now. You always want to target a fairly broad niche when building a site.

If you know exactly what you’re building and just want to know how to rank; skip this step.

By targeting a small niche, you set yourself up for failure right from the start.

Why? Simply because there is a limit to how many topics you can cover. This means eventually you will have written about everything and the site will have no room for growth.

At the same time, you don’t want to aim to take over a giant niche like weight loss or exercise. Target a broad niche, leave room for growth. Niche research flows into keyword research. For authority sites, you should first-hand select a handful of monster keywords in your niche.

3-6 is a good number. These are the keywords that you’d like to rank for the long term. There are only two brackets of keywords I look for; short term and long term. The short term is the monster keywords that you will eventually rank for with this strategy.

Short term keywords should range from ridiculously easy keywords to fairly competitive keywords. With authority site SEO, you should always start by ranking for the easy keywords. Slowly moving your way up the keyword ladder towards the more competitive terms. What happens as you do this is you build ranking momentum.

You rank for one term, and it gives you this sort of leverage and “qualification” to rank for the next slightly more complicated term. How many short term keywords you choose is up to you. But I’d aim for 100.

So by the time you’ve published 100 articles, you should be ranking for all of the 100 keywords, and the site should start naturally ranking for the monster keywords. Depending on how much optimization you do and the competitiveness of the niche; these figures will greatly vary.

Step Two: Build An Identity

I talked about this the other day, this is really a breakthrough in Google’s algorithm. Google don’t want random people ranking for terms they have no business ranking for; just because they’re bad ass SEO’s.

Google want every site to have a face, an identity. They are doing this via Google Plus Authorship. Essentially all you have to do is create and connect your site with a Google Plus profile. As well as create and connect several other online profiles to the Google Plus profile. This allows Google to monitor your online activity.

Step Three: Authority Site Creation & Content

Once your site is up, keywords selected and you’ve put a face to it. You need to build it out, make it authority. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Simply publish new content on a bi-weekly basis. Publishing daily isn’t always better. If you wait a week without publishing content, it builds up this ranking power that’s ready to release on your newly published content. However, we won’t get into that…

Anyway, publish awesome content on a bi-weekly basis. What do you write about? Anything your audience wants to hear about. Te kind of stuff that they will check your site for every other day. That’s the end goal of an authority site. To have its readers literally type in the URL of the site just to check it for new updates.

We all regularly check a handful of websites, but only a tiny percentage of the sites we visit. Become that resource and SEO will be irrelevant. Work on the design. My opinion on site design has pretty much stayed the same for as long as I can remember.

A good looking site is critical. All of the most popular sites have had tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or even millions spent on design/infrastructure. A simple WordPress theme for $100, with a custom header & background, will suffice, to begin with. It really does give a site an edge over its competitors.

The metric you really need to monitor is time spent on the site. How bad ass your content is and user-friendly your design will control this metric. Tweak and monitor, tweak and monitor!

Step Four: Natural Traffic

Before you put your foot on the pedal and start throwing “powerful backlinks” at it, build natural traffic. I find this hilarious because most people think I’m crazy for saying it. Especially in the SEO arena. Not many people actually get this, and a pathetic number of people actually do it.

Build up natural traffic. Build a natural flow of traffic to your site and convert the visitors into an audience. Convert them into your subscribers and long term fans.

Building natural traffic is doing SEO, but it’s building links to drive traffic; not boost rankings.

So there are about 50 odd methods for building natural traffic. Here are my top picks:

1. Forums

Forums are seriously underestimated by SEOs. They’re like a superfood for your site. They drive traffic, build engagement/activity, backlinks and drive an audience! With conventional authority site building; the aim is to build a community. That’s what building a highly successful site is all about.

But with conventional SEO, you are driving random people to your site and trying to convert them into community members. The vast majority of searchers aren’t actively in your community. For example, we’ll go back to the dog training example. Whenever I think of SEO examples; I think dog training. We all do, we’ve been conditioned to use ‘dog training’ for examples (LOL).

So, an individual might have just bought a puppy, got home and spontaneously went on to Google to search “how to train my puppy to dance”, because who doesn’t want a dancing puppy. If you were building a dog training site/blog/forum and wanted to get active readers, this type of person would have a really low conversion rate.

You want people who are actively training dogs and passionate about doing it. Those are the kind of people who will keep coming back to read your articles or post on your forum or buy your products. The average spontaneous search is useless for community building. So where do you find these avid dog trainers? Forums – obviously.

Forums are where groups of people with similar interests get together to talk about that interest, in this case, dog training. So it makes sense to get involved in the forums, talking about dog training. Pretty much all forums allow you to add a signature to your forum posts. Your forum signature displays below every post you make on a forum.

This is where you link to your site. Make your signature as controversial as possible; it should grab attention and force people to click through to your site. So forums serve three purposes: they drive traffic, they build backlinks, but most importantly they drive active community members to your site. The exact kind of people you want.

Forums are probably the most powerful natural traffic builders in most niches. I know guys who get 500-1000 UV’s/day from forum posting, literally spending 1-2 hours a day on them.

2. Paying For Traffic

SEO’s are normally terrified of paying for traffic. It defies their logic they have going on. If you can get something for free, why on earth would you pay for it? Simple. Paying for traffic allows you to get instant results. It allows you to test your site. I advise driving traffic for the sole purpose of tweaking and monitoring your site.

At the same time, it’s great to diversify your traffic sources. The two sites I recommend for driving CHEAP traffic to sites/blogs are Stumbleupon and Outbrain. Both offer dirt cheap targeted traffic. I recommend Outbrain if you’re trying to build an audience/subscribers.