On June 1st this year, I launched Eat Local Ballarat, a non-commercial advocacy blog covering locally produced food in the Ballarat region. I set out to make a website that would rank among the best in town.
Before I launched, I did some research into Ballarat’s top websites as judged by their Domain Authority. Among the top ranks were Federation University, the City of Ballarat, Sovereign Hill, and Ballarat Health Services. I also catalogued around 40+ other local sites that had a DA (domain authority) of 25 or more. DA’s a rough measure, but I figured it wasn’t a bad guideline for which sites would be the best known, most widely linked, and most visited in town. Sure enough, most of the names on the list were recognisable local businesses and institutions.
My goal was to be on this list within six months. I knew there would be challenges writing about a niche topic for a small audience, but I was pretty sure it was achievable.
Since Eat Local Ballarat’s launch, I’ve been watching its DA each time Moz release an update to their scores. As of last week (five months after launch) Eat Local Ballarat has a DA of 25, enough to have got it onto that original list. The homepage has a PA (Page Authority) of 37.
On the grand scale of things 25 isn’t that huge a number. The highest possible is 100, which is held by sites like Facebook and Youtube, and it’s a logarithmic scale which means that it’s easier to move up the lower ranks than to reach the top.
On the other hand, the websites I consider to be my “friendly competition” (that is, other local websites about related topics) have DAs ranging from 16 to 33. Some of them have been operating for nearly a decade, so it’s good to be ranking alongside them after only a few months.
How to quickly get a good DA for your niche website
Here are some of the techniques I used to quickly establish Eat Local Ballarat as a useful, authoritative resource in our community, rank well in the search engine results, and get noticed by local eaters:
- Do keyword research up-front to know what people are searching for. Target keywords where you can most easily outrank existing sites.
- Write or create content about local events and topics that people are interested in, but which don’t have their own websites.
- Pay close attention to on-page SEO for every page and blog post you create. Titles, meta descriptions, canonicals… there are dozens of useful things you can tweak.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and loads reasonably quickly.
- Minimise dead links and 404s. (This sounds obvious, but many local sites have heaps of these problems.)
- Seek out appropriate backlinks from other sites, including local media.
- Update your site regularly. You don’t have to blog daily or even weekly but don’t let it languish for months or years.
- Always post first on your own site, then automatically syndicate it out to social media. Don’t let Facebook own what you have to say.
- Promote your content widely, including one-to-one outreach where appropriate.
If you’d like help getting your website to rank well and get noticed, I’m available for consulting work with clients in Ballarat and beyond. Drop me a line.