From January to February this year (2014) I increased traffic here on IP by roughly 200%. Back then this site was pulling in 100 views every day, only a fraction of what it does now. Below I’d like to share the tricks I used to grow my traffic with no advertising and simply a lot of hard work.
Do you want to know the hardest part about improving your sites SEO? Well you’ll be searching for a long time because almost everything about search engine optimisation is tricky to say the least. There’s no quick-fix when it comes to SEO which is why I’ve put together these SEO tactics to help you out.
Sure, you can use a WordPress plugin like Yoast or All in One SEO Pack. You could read 100 articles on improving your keyword usage. You could ask everyone who follows you on Twitter the best way to increase organic traffic. In the end the best way of improving your organic search traffic is by tweaking and optimising to see what works for you.
Note: Although there are many search engines that do a decent job, Google is the leader amongst them all which is why I mention Google an awful lot in this article.
#1: Use a Focus Keyword
This is especially important if you’re trying to increase traffic on a blog. A focus keyword should ideally be used on every page which also means every page should be different.
Take this article for example, the focus keyword is “seo tactics”. The entire point of this article is to help you improve your search traffic. The best way to do that is to include you focus keyword in the following places:
- Page title
- Page URL
- Meta description
- Page content
- Bonus: The post title if it’s a blog post
You want to include your focus keyword in all those places but you also want it to appear naturally because Google will know if you’re keyword stuffing. The number one thing to remember with SEO is that you can’t beat Google, no matter how hard you try.
#2: Optimise Your Page Title
Almost any kind of SEO starts with the page title. It’s the first thing search engines look at, but it’s also the first thing people read when they see your site appear on the SERP. The page title is one of the most valuable assets you have at your disposal when tweaking your site for search.
Make sure it has your focus keyword in it and uses techniques like creating a curiosity gap, using numbers or surprising the reader. Although those techniques are usually for blog post titles they work just as well for page titles. I highly recommend reading 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas on the Buffer blog which does a great job of teaching you just what it takes to write the perfect headline.
#3: Blog Quality Content
If you have a site in which you’re trying to improve organic traffic, starting a blog on the site is the perfect way to do just that. By getting more active on social media with your blog posts you also improve the likelihood of search engines like Google ranking you higher. The truth about search engines is that the more popular your content is on social networks like Facebook and Twitter the more likely your content is to get ranked higher.
Writing content geared towards your product or niche is actually a fantastic way of getting people to your site because they’ll already be in that area. Your blog can provide the answers and cross-sell at the same time. Don’t use this as an excuse to write dodgy articles that purely promote your products. If your content is sub-par people will assume your products are as well.
#4: Write Meta Descriptions for People
As you’ll find out after much Googling (yes, I see the irony) is that Google doesn’t give much weight, if any at all, to the meta description of the page, so why should you bother putting much effort into it? Here’s why: Tweaking your site for search engines is only half the battle, if you’re not producing content people will want to read and interact with you’re already fighting a loosing battle.
Remember, in the end it’s people who are clicking on your links, not Google and it’s people who are reading/interacting with your content. You must write something compelling otherwise nobody will want to click and find out what you’re offering.
#5: Short and Informative URLs
A best practice with URLs is to keep them short and sweet. While it’s true that people check the URL of the site they’re clicking too, mostly just too make sure they’re not being sent to bingo666.com when the title says “Fresh Flower Deliveries”, search engines also take the URL into account. If your URL is as long as the page title it’s hard to scan but also harder to copy and paste, especially onto a site like Twitter which has a 140 character limit.
Another thing to take into account is the overall structure. Take this site for example. All posts are listed under the following URL structure
inspirationalpixels.com/category/post-name this makes it incredibly easy for a reader to see that this is a post inside a category, but how is that helpful? Imagine if the post was named something like
/boost-your-traffic-with-quicksprout and the category was
/seo-tools/, people will automatically know it’s a tool for improving your search traffic. It may seem trivial but simple things like this really help, especially on larger sites.
Don’t forget to include your focus keyword. However, don’t make the mistake of writing the URL structure exactly the same as the page title. Short and sweet is best as it provides a quick, at-a-glance view of what the page is about.
#6: Create Your Content for People
This point ties in nicely with blogging quality content and writing meta descriptions. It should go without saying that trying to cheat your way up the SERP is a waste of time. Instead write quality content of considerable length and search engines will pick up on it.
I recommend always writing at least 1000 words for every blog post (at least!). Even if the post is an infographic, you need to write content around the infographic so search engines can understand what the page or post is actually about.
#7: Forget SEO Companies
SEO companies are generally a bad way to go. I actually used to offer SEO services on my portfolio site, the main difference though was what I promised clients.
Most companies offering to open up their SEO toolbox and boost your sites organic traffic by 500% are simply lying through their teeth. The only way to increase your sites traffic is with trial, error and a lot of patience.
Some things work for some sites while other things work for other sites. There is no magic trick to increase your traffic. Search engines don’t work like that, but more importantly neither do people.
#8: Forget Keyword Stuffing
Do you think any search engine would rank this article high for “organic milk” if I simply stuffed the post with that exact keyword? The answer is no.
There was a time, many years ago, when keyword stuffing was actually pretty effective. Gone are the days of dodgy SEO tactics to make you rank high in SERPs.
Today all major search engines use algorithms that have been built up over years by some of the most intelligent people in the search game. Google is constantly updating their algorithms, sometimes releasing major updates every month, so trying the old ways of keyword stuffing will only put you in the virtual dog house.
#9: Use Headings Properly (H1, H2 etc…)
When structuring your site, always take into account where you’re going to be using headings. Your sites content is laid out like so:
- H1 = Most important so only have one of these and it should always be what the current page is about.
- H2 = Secondary content, like different sections of a page.
- H3 = Subheading of secondary content, like broken up pieces of a section.
- H4 = Anything else that’s importance comes after the three things mentioned above.
Sticking to the above formula will make sure that Google reads the importance of content on your page correctly. If everything is using a H1 or H2 then nothing is more important than anything else. Having different levels of importance lets the search spiders know what to rank your page most highly for.
#10: Don’t Forget ALT Tags on Images
ALT tags are a great way of boosting your search results, however there’s a common problem, especially when using certain CMSs. Some CMSs add ALT tags to your images automatically and more often than not it’s simply the date the image was posted or the file name minus the extension. Trust me, Google can’t tell your image is of a guy holding a coffee cup if the ALT tag says “03-01-2014” or “220094_GHDKJ”.
By taking the time to let search engines know what the image is displaying then you’ll appear more frequently for search terms that are relevant to what the image is of. Search spiders can’t see, but they can read very well.
#11: Site Speed Matters
Yes you read that correctly. The speed at which your site loads is a big factor in what Google thinks of you. You may be wondering why Google cares at all how fast your site is. The reason is simple, Google ranks content depending on whether or not people are going to like it. If the site is slow then people won’t want to go on that site and will search for an alternative.
I suggest reading this post on the Moz blog about how site speed affects search rankings.
#12: Constantly Publish New Content
By constantly pushing out new content you’re letting any search spider that crawls your page know that your site is fresh and worth looking at. Over time the major search engines will place your overall ranking lower if your site consistently stays the same.
Constantly blogging is hard, but by planning a set of posts on the Weekend and writing them though the week so you’re always at least a week ahead.
Bonus: Have A Responsive Website
Some people don’t like responsive design, so they stay away from it, then they still think they can get the best possible ranking in Google. If you’re doing this, then you’re doing the web wrong. I’ve included this as a bonus because it should be just another part of the web design and SEO process by now, not something you tack on at the end.
You should be creating content and web pages for people, not for search engines. Search engines have taken a lot more variables outside the page or post into account in recent years so it’s always worth keeping up to date.
Conclusion and Further Reading
There is no quick fix for improving your sites search ranking. Google updates it’s algorithm all the time so one-click fixes are a waste of time. The best thing you can do is stay on top of the latest news in the world of search and optimise your site accordingly.
In the end just don’t be lazy. As I said above there’s no way to beat Google, so don’t try. Getting high rankings comes from a lot of effort in both SEO and quality content. If you’re offering something people will enjoy and will want to share search engines will be able to tell and rank you accordingly.
Here are some great resources to help keep you updated on SEO tactics and the latest Google search algorithm updates:
- KISSmetrics blog – As their tagline says “Google Analytics tells you what’s happening. KISSmetrics tells you who’s doing it.”
- Quicksprout – A fantastic tool for finding out why you’re not getting enough traffic on your website.
- Moz Blog – Previously known by many as SEOmoz, the Moz blog is perhaps one of the greatest resources for finding SEO tips and tricks.
- Leadpages blog – Leadpages is a tool for increasing your conversions and their blog has some great articles on improving your sites SEO.