I'm glad you started this thread, ScHwErV, because most of what I know about SEO has been accidental, trial and error or learning just like this from more experienced people. Leatherworker hit 500 registered members today. I have never submitted any site to anywhere but Google.
I started with about 40 interested people, and "spread the word" through private emails and leather guild newsletters and lists in June 2006.
My site has some major differences than eO. Leatherworker has distinct unique keywords. There's just not much on the net about the subject and the tools, aside from the reenactors and their primitive attempts at leatherwork. I've noticed youth leaders are always searching for leather crafts advice and projects, and again, there is very little available. "The Outdoors" is a much broader subject, and there is a wealth of information about each category. That has to affect page rankings. I haven't made any extra effort to link to individual sites, but some people have done it for me, and a few hits come from there. An afternoon of personal requests could probably mean 40 or better more cross-links. I'm not "competing" with these sites, though, and their visitor traffic is far less than even my own hodge-podge home page. The forum probably drives more traffic to their sites than the other way around.
I do belong to a webring that I used to "own". It has four of my leather related sites there, and nearly 100 more. People actually do browse this ring, and they will click on the forum, and the Leather Lady's links and spend hours there. As you can see, the couple of leather pages are the most popular on my potpourri website.
Three quarters of that is search engine hits. Running a forum, I don't think a webring is going to drive traffic elsewhere. When I build stores for people, if they insist on listing their favorite webrings, I bury them on a "links" page, and don't make it very easy to find. I point the webring so that it shows we have the code, but I know the sites are not being driven by the webring, it's only a contribution. On Leatherworker, I will eventually have the other side of the site with people's profiles, artists, contact info, images and links (more keywords). Images are a help with the search engines, too, at least for leatherwork. Leatherworker's other biggest contributor for referrals is PSLAC, "The Rawhide Gazette" right above Oe's banner. PSLAC
is an older established site, and Bob said he's getting similar referrals from Leatherworker. Again, neither of us are selling anything, so we're not driving traffic away- chances are they will bookmark both sites. Notice there are two entries for PSLAC on the list.
Then there are flukes. Look at the "Chatslang" page on JohannaNKO. When I type "web slang" into Google, it comes up #2. I took a list I had and uploaded it one night because I was bored. It's linked on "spraakservice.net" and other sites I never heard of. Same with "Characters"- it's a plain list I put up of the alt codes for characters. I have a section devoted to the Miami Erie Canal and the Great Black Swamp history and maps, but those pages are never found. They are found constantly on another site I have http://newbremenhistory.org
Go figure. New Bremen's site is linked everywhere relevant, and 85% of the hits come from the search engines, and I have never submitted it anywhere other than Google. Type "leather guild" into Google and my site "Pitt Pounders" will come up first or second. The other guilds have had sites up for years. PSLAC isn't even on the first page, and the "mother guild" the IFoLG
isn't always in the top five. Here's a vBulletin forum that's mine, with more than 10,000 posts, and you can't find it on a search engine if you stand on your head and whistle Dixie. PrisonSupport
So keep talking, guys, I need to learn. The stores I do are much harder to market. RLN Photography
is technically sweet site, but again, it can't be found with Google, and needs special attention if it's ever going to be a viable store. I appreciate all the insight, tips and links. I would love to hear Blair's observations and experience- G2G exploded, and remains a growing site. What can that be attributed to? What helped, what was insignificant? Was the site driven by the malware references?