If you were to ask many internet marketers what they want most in the world, I’m sure the answer you would hear from almost all of them will have something to do with getting more visitors to their sites.
While it may not be easy, building organic traffic to your site is the best investment of your time and effort that you can make.
The idea of shelling out a few bucks for instant traffic from Facebook promoted posts and Google Adwords is very appealing, but for a lot of people in internet marketing, it’s not sustainable.
This article outlines some of the established SEO practices that can help you increase the number of visitors search engines send your way, all without having to pull out your credit card.
1. Improve Site Speed
By improving the speed of your website, you not only improve visitor satisfaction but you may also directly influence your search rankings.
Site speed is among the few ranking factors that Google has confirmed.
While page speed is very important for desktop search, Google deems it even more essential for mobile devices. Can you recall when last you waited for the page to load when you had a weak signal on your cell?
It’s crucial to get the page loading times optimized on smartphones especially when you consider the characteristics of the mobile data networks that smartphones are connected to.
2. Good Smartphone SEO
Gone are the days when web browsing was mostly done on PCs and laptops.
A good mobile experience is important and it’s recommended by Google that you make your website responsive.
If your site is not configured the right way for smartphones then it will likely get lower Google search results when it comes to mobile queries which will greatly affect your marketing efforts.
It’s been confirmed by Google that smartphone errors may lead to lower mobile rankings.
Smartphone errors include redirecting visitors to wrong mobile URLs, embedding videos that don’t play on particular phones (for example, a flash video on an iPhone), pop-ups that can’t be closed easily on mobile, and buttons or fonts that are way too small on mobile devices.
3. Use Rich Snippets From Structured Data
The types of rich snippets that Google shows in search results are constantly expanding. They include events, videos, songs, and breadcrumbs. Use markups such as videos and authorship (discussed below) to increase clicks.
a) Optimize Videos
Video snippets capture a lot more search space (pixel for pixel) than any other kind of rich snippet. Their search real estate is even more than authorship photos and our eyes go straight to them.
But unlike those author images, video snippets are easier to display.
There are a lot of third-party services available that can help simplify things and take care of all the technical details that video snippets generally require such as creating the video XML site map or adding schema micro-data video markup.
b) Google Authorship
While landing that coveted photo in the Google search results is no guarantee that you will get more clicks, getting the right image to use as your author photo definitely can help to improve your click-through rates.
But what makes a great author photo?
There aren’t any rules as to which photo is better than the other, but there are certain factors that are of help when choosing the right image:
- Use a real face as opposed to a cartoon, icon or company logo
- Pick an image with high contrast colors. Since the photo is small, this will make it stand out as much as possible.
- Make sure that the photo is targeted toward your audience to make them more likely to click on it.
For example, if your main readers are young Disney fans, you wouldn’t want to use a photo of an old guy in a suit who looks like a real estate investor.
4. Google+ Social Annotations
Whenever you share your content on Twitter or Facebook, your network can only see it when they are looking at those social media networks.
However, if you share content on Google+ then they can see it each time they search Google.
Research from Google shows that most users are fixated on social annotations even when they are presented with rich snippets such as videos.
The best way to use this to your marketing advantage is to expand your network in Google+ and share great content regularly.
Content that is shared through Google+ usually ranks in regular search results which are visible to all on the internet, regardless of social connections.
5. Expand Your International Audience
If your website has traffic potential outside of your existing country or language then you should consider targeting those with SEO.
A lot of times, the opportunities for being shown in international search results are much greater than when you stay within your own borders.
Not to mention the fact that the competition is sometimes less there. Find out if making the investment is worth your while by checking out the international SEO checklists online.
6. Optimize Snippets
In recent years, Google has changed title tag maximum length which means that now it’s dependent on the number of pixels used as opposed to the number of characters.
While it’s difficult to determine the pixels when crafting titles, it’s safe to stay between 60 to 80 characters for your titles or use a snippet optimization tool online to help you determine the ideal length for your title tags.
Google has also clarified that duplicate meta descriptions aren’t a good idea and that if you cannot write unique descriptions for each page then it’s better not to have one at all.
7. Mix it Up
There isn’t one type of content that is better than the other and for this reason, it’s a good idea to mix it up when it comes to content marketing for increased search traffic.
Vary the length of your content as well as the format.
Try to make it as appealing as possible to the different kinds of people in your audience.
Mix in-depth articles with shorter, news-based posts as well as videos, data-driven pieces, and infographics. Doing this will help you make the maximum impact with your content marketing strategy.
8. Update Content
When sites stop earning links they often start to lose ground in Google’s search results.
Also, sites that don’t add new content and those that let pages go stale can lose favor with Google. While it doesn’t guarantee that there will be a boost in your rankings, it’s still important to freshen up your content as it helps with a variety of queries.
Google considers the freshness of your content in various ways such as the inception date, the percentage of changes in your content, the regularity with which you update your content, and how many pages you create over time.
9. Paid Search
This is perhaps the most obvious one.
Paid search, display ads, and social media advertising are all great ways of getting more visitors to your site and building your brand. Just ensure that you adjust your paid advertising strategies to suit your particular goals.
Decide if you just want more traffic to your site or if you’re looking to boost your conversions as well.
Think very carefully about your business objectives before pulling out your credit card because whichever paid channel you choose has its own pros and cons.
For example, if you want more traffic to your website that will result in increased sales then you should target keywords with high commercial intent as part of your strategy for paid search.
While the competition for these types of keywords may be intense, the payoff can be worthwhile.
10. Write Magnetic Headlines
Without an irresistible headline, even your most amazing content will go unread. Headlines are therefore among the most important parts of any content that you craft. It’s easy to master the art of writing compelling headlines.
Some marketers actually write up to twenty different headlines before they settle on one that they feel will drive the most traffic to their sites.
If you want to get your articles read by as many people as possible, give some serious thought to your headlines before hitting the ‘publish’ button.
11. Don’t Neglect On-page SEO
Indexing, crawling, duplicate content, canonicalization, site architecture, internal linking, keyword research, image optimization, and a myriad of other factors can boost your rankings.
While this may make technical SEO jobs a little more complex, there are more SEO opportunities now than ever before.
Just don’t be lulled into the false idea that there is nothing new in SEO, or even that Google will somehow figure out your site. You must perform ongoing on page SEO if you want consistent results in your organic traffic. Luckily, optimizing for on-page SEO does not have to take long.
12. Long-Tail Keywords
Once you have covered all your commercial intent keywords, it’s time to begin targeting long-tail keywords as well. These account for the vast majority of online searches and can boost traffic to your website in a huge way.
This means that if you aren’t targeting the long-tail keywords within your SEO or paid search strategy then you are missing out.
13. Internal Linking
Your link profile strength isn’t determined only by how many sites you have linking back to you, but it can also be affected by your own internal linking structure.
Be sure to make the most of internal linking opportunities when you create or publish content.
This will help you with SEO as well as creating a better and more useful site experience for your audience, which is the cornerstone of boosting traffic to your site.
14. Guest Blogging
Contrary to what some may try to tell you, guest blogging is not dead.
If you manage to secure a guest blog on a high-quality site, you can increase traffic to your site and help to build your brand at the same time.
Just remember that the standards have changed in recent years, and spammy tactics could lead to some stiff penalties so you need to proceed with extreme caution when guest blogging.
15. Get Guest Bloggers on Your Site
This is a two-way street.
While you post on other blogs, you need to invite people to post on yours. Find other reputable bloggers in your niche who will write articles for your site.
They will share and link to their guest article which helps to bring new visitors to your site.
However, it’s important to ensure that you only post good quality, original content that doesn’t contain any spammy links to avoid penalties from Google.
16. Interview Industry Experts
Interviews aren’t just for those in the big leagues. Find thought leaders in your industry and send them emails requesting an interview.
If you just ask, you will be amazed at just how many people are eager to talk to you about what they do.
Publish those interviews on your blog and the name recognition will not only boost your credibility, but it will also increase traffic to your site.
The people you interview will also likely share it, expanding the content’s reach even further.
17. Build a Community Into Your Site
Everyone wants to speak their mind and weigh in on important subjects that they are passionate about. Fostering a sense of community on your site will help you to start conversations that will ultimately boost traffic to your site.
You can get a robust commenting system implemented through a third-party solution such as Disqus or Facebook comments.
You could even create a forum for visitors to ask questions. Just remember to always manage your community to make sure that it meets the minimum standards of decorum.
The Bottom Line
The factors listed in this article only scratch the surface when it comes to earning more search results real estate, but implementing any of them and working on them consistently will undoubtedly increase the amount of traffic you get on your site.
It takes a lot of effort, but it pays off big over time.
Use these tips to go after the opportunities that your competitors are overlooking, be consistent in your marketing tactics, and always stay on Google’s good side and in no time at all, you will start to see the results of all your hard work.
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Updated: Originally published May 17th 2018