9 SEO Techniques for More Organic Traffic
Buzz… buzz… The lights flicker off as you hit “Stay” on the security alarm and rush out of your office door so as not to trigger the system. It’s 8 PM, after all. You’ve missed Taco Tuesday, but luckily your family understands – these days you’ve got only one thing on your mind. #LaunchDay. That's right – your business ‘baby’ is only a few weeks from birth. You run through your mental checklist for the thousandth time:
1. Inventory? Check!
2. Paperwork? Check!
3. Personnel? Check!
4. Catering for the launch party? Check!
5. Website set up?? SEO strategy implemented?? Oh boy.
You’re from a generation that’s thrived on face-to-face marketing, word of mouth, and more traditional marketing methods. However, 2020’s reliance on social media, instant gratification, stimulating content, and the foreign, almost alien concept of ‘SEO’ has been causing the vein in your forehead to stress pulsate beyond your control.
SEO? The first time you even heard that phrase you thought your colleague was referring to the SEC. Roll Tide or EDGAR. With a befuddled look on your face you remember how you asked for clarification: “Wait, what does SEO stand for?” Search engine optimization, your colleague muttered, also seemed unsure because, they too, are new to marketing’s modern-day digital transformation.
Search Engine Optimization
What does it actually mean? Simply put, SEO is ranking on page one of Google, or other search engines (believe it or not, there are others!), like Bing or Yahoo. It is the practice of not just increasing the amount of traffic to your website but increasing the amount of quality traffic to your website through organic search results.
Why is SEO Important?
Okay great, so now we know what it stands for and the Webster definition. So, why does it matter? Why is driving organic search results important for your business? Well, the most redeeming quality of SEO is that it does not discriminate against differently sized businesses and resources. If you don’t have deep pockets and are not yet ready to spend thousands of dollars each month for (expensive yet effective) Pay-Per-Click (“PPC”) campaigns, as well as bid high on dense keyword searches, you're not completely out of the running for capturing website visitors and leads for your business. With the right resources and techniques, you can still optimize your website for search engines and do so in an effective and cost-efficient way.
Before we move into SEO techniques and tips, it is important to understand the math. How you rank for SEO is like how you used to rank your online friends on Myspace. But, in this case, it's not a Top 8, it's a Top 5. Of all the online traffic, 51% comes from search (search engines) – and of that 51%, 75% comes from Google. And of that 75%, 67.6% of clicks are spots 1-5 on page one. Ding, ding, ding! This is where you want your business to be.
Whether you own an online clothing store, or you’re a divorce attorney or even a public adjuster, you want to be on the top of page one. When you think about your own personal buying/online behaviors, your own personal Googling behaviors, you can admit that you rarely pass page 1 – and even more specifically, the top of page 1. In fact, there’s a running marketing joke that: “bodies are buried on pages two and three and so forth,” which loosely translates to the fact that no one ever visits those pages.
That's because the bridge between knowing what you want or need and finding a provider of that good or service has gotten a lot smaller. Plus, consumers put unwavering faith in Google and in the fact that Google will find the provider nearby with the best reviews and the services – and we assume that Google will place that provider right at the top of those search results.
Understanding SEO and its importance is only 25% of the battle. There are quite a few SEO techniques, but this blog will cover 9 popular techniques that you can leverage to help you get that coveted page one spot:
1. Competitor Research
2. Purposeful Content
3. Homemade Keywords
4. Word Count
5. Create Shareable Content
6. Link Building
8. Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
9. Evaluate SEO Performance
This technique is what I call back to basics. Whenever you start a business (unless you are blessed with a blue ocean and you are first to market), you want to look at your competition. What are they doing well, what are they failing at? The goal is, of course, for you to differ from your competition and enhance your competitive position, but it never hurts to do your research. When it comes to SEO competitor research, it’s the process where you evaluate where your competitors rank and what technique(s) they are using. There are a variety of ways you can complete this research. One of the most popular ways is to do a keyword analysis through tools like SEMrush and SpyFu. Tools like these can be leveraged to analyze your competitors’ domain score, monthly traffic, and backlinking strategy, among other helpful variables.
This next SEO technique covers content creation – and by that, I mean creating strategic content, as opposed to creating content just for the sake of it. This especially applies to writing content, more specifically blog and article creation. As the expert in your space, you don't always know what to write about. What you do know is that you are passionate about a certain field and extremely knowledgeable in it. The issue with creating without research on what your audience is actually searching for and interested in reading about is that you may be creating content that no one reads or engages with, which will ultimately impact SEO… but not in a good way. You want to create the dynamic content that answers the questions and the keyword searches that your audience is actively looking for and interested in. Keyword research is key here, and there are many tools online, a lot of which have a free version, that can help you with identifying which topics are popular with your target audience. One of those tools is Answer The Public. You can pick any topic and their tool will generate actual keyword searches and questions that people are asking. Another way to generate new purposeful content is by updating old pieces. This older content is performing well organically already, so why not update it to reflect any changes in industry trends, data, any images used, etc.
Pancakes from scratch…? Just checking to make sure you are still with me. Marketing experts will always tell you to create content with purpose (I just did), follow the keyword research, and use the tools available to make sure you create content that your target audience is searching for. But in your business, you also should create something new. Whether that is a process, or a service, or an item, or an idea, or technique. If that arises, you should name it! When you coin a term and essentially create your own keyword(s) you give yourself the opportunity to own that search, own that space, and rank #1.
Next up is content length. This study done by Backlinko shows that long-form content is better for link building (and link building helps boost SEO) than short blog posts. The study also found that, on Google, the average word count on page one is slightly over 1,400 words, and industry leaders recommend publishing content with at least 1,800 words.
Create Shareable Content
On top of creating purposeful and valuable content, you also need to create shareable content. Adding an optimized feature image, making sure your content passes a readability test, using infographics, posting at the right time of day, using numbers in the title, creating long enough content – these things all play a role in whether or not your content is shareable. The likes, shares, and retweets you receive all impact SEO. You can create a new 1,801-word blog every day, but if no one reads it, it won’t have a significant impact on your SEO and your ranking. Search engines, like Google, are sophisticated and they are going to give that coveted top spot to the content creators that drive engagement.
Arguably, the most impactful backlinks are going to come from the media – from heavily read news sites like Forbes or The New York Times. Any quotes or interviews from reputable media outlets can really boost your links, boost your online presence and your credibility, so it's important to nurture existing relationships with members of the media and keep building new ones. If you’re starting from scratch, that’s okay! Journalists are always open to being pitched on an idea for a thought leadership piece or a guest article, etc. You can also set up press alerts from journalists (using tools like Haro) and when they are looking for quotes or to interview an expert they’ll send out alerts, which you can answer and start to build links. Another great way to backlink is through guest articles. You could pitch a piece to a media outlet and if they pick it up, they will feature it on their website.
One of my favorite techniques to create backlinks is through reviews. How many tools do you use to do business? Your CRM, your email, your social media tools, your accounting tools, etc. Often, these tools are available online for review and they create an opportunity for you to visit third-party review sites where you submit a review and include your website URL as a backlink.
Next up is donations. Like the review, if you/your business are philanthropic and involved in some charity or nonprofit work, you can create backlinks by making an online donation and including your website URL. And yet another way to build links is to internally link. At the end of this blog, I will direct readers to another blog they may want to read, and this is a good way to create links leveraging your business’s own content.
This last technique is done through broken links. For instance, if you’re a personal trainer and you do a Google search for “personal training programs,” you will probably see some ads, some blogs, some YouTube videos. Look through the content on page one and see if there are any blogs or articles that reference any broken links. A broken link is any link that no longer works or takes you to a live landing page/website. Every once in a while, sites and posts go down. If you contact the webmaster and let them know they are linking a broken link, and then give them an option to replace the link that’s broken with some content you have personally created, then you are providing them with a new source, while simultaneously building a link for your website. It’s a win-win.
A somewhat overlooked SEO technique is optimizing YouTube videos. This is important because Google is not able to click on and view and enjoy your content, so search engines rely heavily on the title, the tags, engagement, and the description. The description is a key component here because not a lot of people use that space. Maybe they add one line about the video or a simple “hope you enjoy this content,” and that's a missed opportunity to add content and really optimize your video and rank for certain keywords.
Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
Nowadays people are glued to their devices, specifically their cell phones. It doesn’t matter if they are checking their email, dominating at Candy Crush, or boomeranging their Cobb Salad for their IG story – it’s all done on their handheld device. And when it comes to online searches, roughly 60% of online searches are done on a mobile device. This statistic supports the sentiment that you are doing yourself, your business, and your overall ranking a disservice by not making your website mobile-friendly – including elements like responsive images, legible font sizes, and tap targets.
Evaluate SEO Performance
The last technique is evaluating SEO performance. When it comes to your SEO strategy and marketing strategy in general, it's important to evaluate which of your techniques are working (if not all) and adjust according to performance. You (and your business) benefit by identifying and understanding which page(s) performed the best, generated most traffic and engagement, and ranked the highest. You can use different platforms and tools to evaluate your SEO performance, including Website Grader, Google Search Console, and SEMrush.
So, there you have it, folks. 9 SEO techniques to help your website get more organic traffic. Feel free to also browse through the rest of our blog (how about checking out Keyword Research – An Overview) for more.