By David Farkas
“What SEO strategies should I be following to drive traffic to my website?”
If you’re a marketer or a business owner, that’s a question you’re asking yourself as we approach 2018. Website traffic, or lack thereof, is a common concern.
We all want to rake in more website traffic– but how do we do it? I work with many entrepreneurs and digital marketers, and the traffic question is something that’s always on their minds.
I know it’s on your mind, too. But enough about problems– let’s talk about solutions.
You know about optimizing keywords, you know about meta descriptions, and you’ve probably even tried to gain some backlinks.
But, despite your efforts, your content doesn’t rank and you don’t see any traffic increases. The thing about SEO, though, is it’s an industry that’s always changing.
It just can’t sit still.
What worked five years ago may not work now. In fact, those common practices from a mere half-decade ago could potentially hinder your efforts if you used them now.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through 5 actionable SEO tips on how you can drive traffic to your website in 2018.
Problem, meet solution. Five solutions, in fact.
Let’s dive in!
Create better content
In most cases, bigger = better.
This is especially true in terms of content.
And as a writer, when you’re able to produce longer content keeping it consistently high-quality, you have a better chance of increasing your website traffic.
Countless studies have been done that suggest unless you already have a super high domain authority, the longer your content, the better chance you have of it ranking.
SerpIQ showed the average length for the first result in the SERPs is 2416 words.
And think about it.
The aim of a search engine is to show you the best answer to your query. If you’re looking for “SEO guide” why would they show you a 500 word brief guide, when they should show you a detailed 5,000 word guide that covers the topic in full?
The beauty of long-form content is generally they receive more backlinks. As you probably already know, receiving backlinks is a crucial way to help your content rank on the first page of Google and ensuring that enough people come to your website to get the information they’re looking for.
Copyhackers are known for producing long-form content and the stats just speak for themselves. This blog post is a 24 minute read, weighs in at 4753 words, but has also been shared 567 times and has 49 comments.
Another benefit of creating longer content is the ability to naturally add more keywords.
Gone are the days where you could keyword-stuff an article and you’d automatically rank on the first page and see hoards of traffic flooding in.
Nowadays, Google are penalizing anyone who seems like they’re stuffing their content with keywords. Google are also getting smarter at understanding what your content is about without you having to write content like:
If you want to lose weight then buy our amazing weight loss pills that will help you lose the weight you want to lose.
Longer content gives you more opportunities to naturally include keywords into your H2, H3, and H4 headings, as well as your image ALT tags.
When you’re trying to create content in an increasingly competitive environment.
Remember that pushing yourself to create high-quality, lengthy content will improve your chance of ranking higher in the search engines and increasing the traffic to your website.
Rank in the featured snippet
The feature snippet is shown to Google users more and more when they ask question-based queries such as “What is X” or “How to”.
The idea is users are given the answers to their questions almost immediately, saving them having to click through to links to try and find the right answer.
It’s similar to when you type into Google: “what’s the weather”
Google wants to make it easier for all users to find answers to their queries as quickly as possible. These benefits website owners because if you can get your website to rank in the featured snippet, you will see an influx of traffic.
First of all, you need to decide what content or answers you want to rank in the featured snippet section. A key way to do this is to ask yourself what questions your target audience might be asking.
Use a tool like Answerthepublic to decipher some key topics or questions your audience might be interested in finding the answers to.
When you have a series of questions, you need to find ways to create content around this topic. Alternatively, you can optimize your current content to increase visibility in the featured snippet.
If your content already ranks in the top five results on Google, I recommend updating your existing content as opposed to creating new content.
Ideally, your answer should be less than 58 words. You should also try to use the target search keyword within one of the HTML headers (h1, h2, h3 etc).
CrazyEgg created a glossary section on their website where they define key phrases their audience might be interested in knowing more about.
The results have been great. They rank in the featured snippet for search queries like “what is link juice?”
Even though their featured snippet provides a short, succinct answer to the question, when you actually click through to the link you’re met with a much longer, detailed version that breaks down the entire topic.
Move away from keywords and start ranking for topics. With an increasing abundance of search results happening each day, and the abundance of new content being published each day, Google is finding smarter ways to help their users find the exact content they’re looking for.
Reorganizing your content by topic clusters will help Google better navigate your site and rank your content quicker.
Hubspot visualizes the idea of topic clusters like this.
The idea is, you create a piece of “pillar content” that acts as a go-to resource about an overarching topic. You then use hyperlinks to link to cluster content.
Cluster content takes each of the topics mentioned in the pillar content and breaks them down further. Let’s look at an example.
Suppose we have SEO as our pillar content.
We then might have cluster content pages about:
- On page SEO
- Off page SEO
- Keyword research
- User Interface
- User experience
- Sitemap etc
So we might have a page on our website called “what is SEO?”
This is the pillar content that breaks down all the little nuances of SEO. From there we’ll link to a number of different pages that goes into more detail on each of the topics listed above.
The reason this works so well for SEO purposes is because it helps you interlink your content so that your audience can easily guide themselves to the information they’re looking for.
Using topic clusters helps you rank better in the search engines because they build more relevance around the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Google is easily able to associate your content with the chosen topic based on the architecture of how your content organization has been designed.
Optimize underperforming content
Most of your organic traffic and leads will come from a small amount of your content. This means there is a large chunk of content that isn’t performing as well as it could be.
Imagine if that content performed as well as your top performing?
You’d have excellent results!
Many companies struggle to consistently create new, great content, but if you want to increase your traffic, you don’t necessarily need to! An alternative is to identify content that is under-performing and optimize it to perform better.
By optimizing old content you can significantly increase your traffic. Backlinko produced a case study that shows how one company were able to increase their organic traffic by 348% in just 7 days.
First, identify any content that ranks on page 2 or 3 and the keywords they’re targeting.
Use the search analytics tool, as part of Google search console to identify keywords that get a lot of impressions but few clicks and a low CTR.
This will show you the keywords that people are seeing but they’re not actually visiting your site. Once you’ve identified them, you need to find other pages on your website where you can drive internal links to those pages.
Once you’ve added your internal links, tweak things like your title tags, h2 tags, and metadata.
Make sure to better optimize your content for these keywords and if you really want to knock it out of the park, add more high quality content to these pages.
Build a linkable asset and appeal to influencers.
If you want to rank for a keyword, especially a competitive one, you need backlinks.
There’s no doubt about it. Not only that, but you need high-quality backlinks.
And the truth is, the only way to get legitimate backlinks is to create a linkable asset. People are unlikely to link to your article if it’s a poorly composed rehashed version of everything else on the internet.
If you want to increase the traffic to your website using SEO, then you need your content to be shared. The more people who share your content, the more people who will read it.
Remember the “build it and they will come” mentality does not work. You need to actively create content that people are going to want to share.
But the crucial thing to remember, that a lot of people forget is, your audience is often not the ones who will be sharing your content.
This is because the people who your content targets don’t run websites in your niche. Because of this, they’re unlikely to link back to your content.
And the more links you get, the higher your content will rank and the more traffic you’ll receive.
Let’s look at an example.
Suppose you have a site aimed at people looking to train their dogs.
Your target audience: dog owners. They will love your content.
But these people won’t be linking to your content because they’re looking for articles about how to train their dogs, they’re not looking to write about how to train dogs.
So if you want to increase your traffic, you need to start producing content that appeals to the types of people that will share your content. I.e. the ones who are most likely to provide you with a backlink.
If you want to increase your website traffic through SEO, you need to make your content appeal to influencers.
How to do it?
First, find influential people in your industry and work out what they care about.
In our dog industry, you might find dog walkers, vets, or anyone else who would be likely to share your content.
When you’ve identified the influencers in your niche, it’s time to reach out to them. Share your content with influencers, and if they think it’s valuable, and covers a topic they care about, they’re likely to link to it, and or share it with their own networks.
When it comes to creating a linkable asset, you need to see what’s already working in your niche.
Use Buzzsumo to see what’s already working.
When you click Go, you’ll be presented with the top content being shared around the internet based on that topic.
Once you have an idea, it’s time to choose a format. Remember the format is not as important as the content. An “infographic” is just a format and doesn’t automatically make a piece of content a linkable asset.
There are a range of formats you could choose from, depending on what you hope to achieve with your asset. Examples such as:
- Case studies
Once you’ve created your asset, it’s time to start building links towards them.
If your niche talks about complicated topics and it’s relevant for you to distribute learning tools or lessons you can try and gain backlinks from educational authorities.
Suppose you’ve created a course or series of lessons teaching people how to get better at web design.
You could request links from any .edu sites relevant to you. .edu more often than not have a high-domain authority and are always looking for more ways to educate their students.
If you want to find sites that have resource pages search in Google: “[your keyword] resources site: [educationalsite].edu”.
When you’ve located these, reach out to them to see if you could be featured on their resources page.
Using SEO to drive traffic to your website will always be a difficult task due to the increasingly tough competition you’re faced with.
If you want to rank better in Google search results, you need to continue putting these tactics in place.
Starting by creating better content, improving your existing content and appealing your content to those who are most likely to share it around and link to it will, in turn, increase the traffic you drive to your site.
SEO doesn’t have to be a minefield you’re not able to navigate, you just need to know what processes will bring about the best results.
The strategies and tips outlined here will help you increase traffic to your site in 2018 if you start implementing them now!
What SEO tips do you recommend for driving more traffic to your website?
This article also appears on The Upper Ranks here!