This article has been contributed by Ryan Jackson.
If you are a business owner, you do your best to impress your customers. Your main aim is to reach more people and connect with them before your competitors do.
Depending on your business, you probably reach a lot – or even all – of your customers online. This may be via social media, digital advertising or your website which people find by searching Google.
If so, it’s likely that you know how search engine optimization strategies are continually changing, and generating more organic traffic through SEO forecasting is getting tougher.
Why? Well…Google is evolving in terms of power and sophistication all the time. It analyzes websites incredibly thoroughly to determine webpages’ positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).
In this article, we will discuss ways to drive more organic traffic with effective SEO. But here’s a hard fact that no one wants to hear – SEO takes time. The results won’t happen overnight, but rest assured that they will be worth the effort.
Let’s jump right in.
1. First, Track Your Website’s Rankings
Before we discuss the steps you’ll need to take to increase organic traffic to your website, let’s see where your site currently stands. There are multiple tools available to analyze your website’s search engine rankings, or positions on SERPs, for different keywords.
It may be obvious, but let’s make it clear – the higher your rankings, the more organic traffic your site will get, and the higher your ROI will be. Ranking at the top of search results is a dream come true.
If you find that your website is performing poorly based on keyword research, don’t worry! Follow the rest of this guide, and your website will rule the SERPs.
2. User Experience Is The Key!
Let’s begin with search engine basics. Google, Bing and other search engines strive to find and provide the best answers to the query asked by the user (i.e. their search). Doing so helps them to maintain the user (and earn more money via ads, of course).
Google, a search engine giant, is splendid at answering queries right on target. It knows how to determine the quality and trustworthiness of websites. As a result, you must be up to date with Google’s algorithm and what aspects of your site it assesses to gauge these qualities.
If your site fails to deliver genuinely engaging content, Google will assess it as a poor site. And a poor site means poor rankings.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of a user for a while. If you click through to a site that looks fishy, out of date and unprofessional, what would you do? You will quickly hit “Back” to the search results and try a different page. Google will recognize that this content is not what the user wanted when they searched, and move the page down in ranking.
It’s as simple as that!
Google assesses a page as great if users spend a lot of time on it, and/or clicks through to more content on your website. In return, it rewards such pages or sites with higher SERP rankings.
a. Is Bouncing Bad For SEO?
A bounce is when a user visits your webpage, stays there for any period of time – short or long, then clicks “Back” without a single interaction.
Bouncing is not always bad as far as SEO is concerned. For example, a user may spend a bit of time on your webpage, find the answer to their question, then leave that page satisfied with what they found.
For this reason, perhaps, Google hasn’t officially declared that bouncing is terrible.
b. Improve Content Readability
Readability of web content is often overlooked. Optimizing just the technical aspects of content, purely for SEO, is not enough to boost your rankings. The user needs to actually enjoy reading the content and/or find it useful, in order for rankings to be high.
Quality content is the most basic requirement for successful SEO. So, be very attentive about the topics you publish content about, the originality of your content, the sources you link to as reference material, sentence structure and grammar when creating copy for your website.
In addition, make sure to:
- use bullet points lists when relevant
- incorporate relevant images and infographics naturally into the text
- write powerful headers and sub-headers
- use short, sharp sentences
- make good use of bold and italic text.
c. Content Flow Is Important!
No content can spark interest in readers without a smooth flow. A lack of flow causes distraction, and ultimately, loses the reader.
Alright, you might be thinking, how do I do that? The answer is quite simple. Interact with your readers as if you are literally talking with them. Ask questions, surprise them, summarize your theory, and so forth.
Have you heard of the term “bucket brigade”? Well…in the content marketing world, they play a significant role in boosting your performance. In a nutshell, they add interest, intrigue and eventually a flow to your content.
For example, instead of starting a paragraph directly with “Content marketing is blah blah…”, how about starting it with “Let me tell you something interesting about content marketing”? The second one sounds more interactive, right?
d. Optimize Your Site’s User Experience
User experience (UX) plays a huge role in your site’s rankings. Poor UX will result in high bounce rates, low time-spent-on-page rates and eventually low rankings. Conversely, great UX will ensure users spend long periods of time on your site, possibly clicking between pages, and will often result in visitors returning. Google will recognize this and reward your site with decent rankings for relevant keywords.
There are powerful tools – some of which are free – that will help you analyze how users are jumping around your site.
3. Ensure Your Webpage Loads Quickly
According to a study, 70% of users say that website load speeds affects their online purchasing behavior.
People’s lives are getting faster, and so are your competitors’ websites. If your site takes ages to load, users will quickly move to another website. One study says if a page’s load time increases from 1s to 5s, the probability of bounces increases by 90%.
Google takes the speed factor very seriously, which makes loading speed a critical ranking factor that site owners should monitor and optimize.
If you do not know your site’s exact website speed, do not panic! There are several ways you can analyze and enhance the speed of your site. Do your research and know what you have to do.
4. Keep Blogging!
To be honest, blogging is one of the most powerful ways to generate organic traffic. It allows you to dig deeper into your niche and establish yourself as an authority in the area.
But hey! AVOID posting spammy, plagiarized or low-grade content. It’s good for nothing.
5. Do Not Take Voice Search Lightly!
Smart speakers are the next big thing. You know how common they are nowadays, and the number of users isn’t going to drop any time soon.
As a result, voice search optimization is a crucial to increasing your organic traffic. Remember, it’s not the same as content optimization. The reason is that we tend to perform text search and voice search differently.
For example, while typing, you may write a “weight gain diet.” However, when you speak, you probably say, “What food should I eat to gain more weight?”
Do you see the difference? Often, a voice search result is a simple answer rather than a long paragraph. Google answers such questions mostly through snippets.
To cope with this, there’s a trick you can use. Add a “Q&A” section on your website. Not only will this allow you to create content geared to appear in snippets, but you’re also indirectly optimizing for voice search.
In addition to this, you can consider the following things for voice search optimization.
- Incorporate more long-tail keywords in your content.
- Keep your content structured.
6. Work On The Mobile View Of Your Site
There are no two ways about the fact that the majority of web surfing is done on mobile phones. Nowadays, users prefer mobile phones to do their product and service research on the go, and what else could be more useful than smartphones to do this?
This gives rise to the need for a great user experience of your website on mobile. You’re probably used to working on your website using your desktop or laptop, but always check how new pages and edits look on mobile as well. Most browsers allow you to do this, or you can install an extension.
7. Topic Clusters Weigh More Than Keywords
If you think that your website will rank at the top of the Google search results only because you have used proper keywords, you are wrong.
Focusing only on keywords is not enough. You also need to consider user intent while creating content. Google is adapting every day to satisfy user needs with the utmost accuracy.
To contribute to Google’s efforts, you must understand what the user wants and work in that direction. How do you know what the user wants? If we were to summarize the answer to this question in one line, it would be “Understand who your target audience is“.
In short, when you know your readers’ web habits, location, age, interests, gender, etc, you can create high-quality, tailored content. The more information you have about your target audience, the more powerful content your content can be.
Once you know what your audience wants, develop topic clusters – sometimes known as content hubs or silos. Each topic cluster will consist of a few linked pages, each about closely related sub-topics.
Monitor how your users move between and within the pages to find out more about the type of content they’re after.
a. Keywords Are Still Important!
Whilst topic clusters are an ace, this does not mean that you can avoid keywords. Well-structured content is not that useful without proper keywords.
Keywords are the supporting heroes of content, and function as lighthouses to Google. They convey the nature of your content, and Google uses those hints to answer users’ queries.
Thorough keyword research is recommended before you begin writing your blog. Check what users are looking for in your content. See how they enter their query in the Google search bar. Cover all the information that answers their questions and other relevant queries.
This not only improves your site ranking but also builds a trusted connection with the readers.
8. Generally, Longer Content Works in Your Favor
Longer content means more information for users, and often a higher number of backlinks from other sites. As a result, your page will see better traffic generation.
However, do not take this as a given! This does not apply everywhere. Sometimes, users just want a simple answer to their question. It can be a one-liner. Writing a 1500+ word blog post to satisfy this user intent would be a horrible idea.
Let us understand this concept with an example. If you want to know more about custom truck services in New Jersey, you expect a helpful blog about various truck services in the region. On the contrary, if you just want to know the price for installing a new pair of wheels on your pickup, a small para with costing info would be sufficient.
The challenge here is, there is no standard tool or guide to determine ideal content length. In this case, use your intuition and common sense and then decide how the user query can be answered in the best way.
9. Heard About PPC, Facebook Ads and Other Organic Boosters? Use Them!
For this, you may need to spend some hard-earned money. If you are ready to trade in some cash, online advertising platforms such as pay per click (PPC) ads (like Google Ads) and Facebook ads can help you reach more people.
Set your target audience, and kickstart your digital advertising with a bang! Follow the instructions provided about character length, titles and content quality. If you want to test your ads first, you can do that too (with minimal charges).
10. Keep Updating Your Site
After all the hard work to grab a place in top ranking positions on Google, consider maintaining that spot over time.
In many cases, your site rankings can decrease because of new or existing competitors. There are multiple reasons behind this such as:
- competitors rebuilding their content with more improvements
- technical issues on your website
- search engine algorithm changes.
Unfortunately, there is no fixed way to pinpoint the exact reason for rankings losses. This is why it is vital to update the content on your site regularly and build even stronger partnerships. This helps you to stay competitive in this cut-throat race.
Overall, there are hundreds of different things to consider when it comes to SEO. This does not mean that you have to become an SEO ninja overnight. Understand that every content strategy is 100% unique, and it takes a while to learn the basics of SEO.
Know your needs, target audience, business goals and user intent before you jump into action. Once you have taken our 10 steps, keep a close eye on your site’s performance and adapt your strategies accordingly.
About the author: Ryan Jackson is the owner of Jackson Digital. With years of experience in SEO and growth marketing, Ryan relies on researched and controlled growth through analytics.