Forrester research found that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search. Every single second, 40,000 people conduct a Google search. For marketers, these stats mean that the secret to growing your business probably lies in being able to successfully grow organic traffic.
While social media networks, paid ads, email marketing, and live events can all be successful channels used to drive traffic, organic search remains one of the best tools in every marketer’s tool box. Organic search is highly cost effective, plus ranking high via organic search adds an air of credibility to your brand.
For those who believe that ranking well doesn’t necessarily matter, so long as your website ranks somewhere, think again. Chitika found that the first position on Google captures nearly 33% of all traffic. The top 10 rankings on Google receive 94% of total traffic. Position matters and this article will teach you 25 keys to growing your organic search traffic thanks to innovative strategies and reliable SEO tactics.
Learn the Skyscraper Technique
If Drake ever devised a strategy for building more traffic from organic search, it would be the Skyscraper technique. Just as Drake says, “we started from the bottom, now we here,” so does this search engine marketing tactic.
If you are like most search engine marketers, you are probably competing against bigger and more established websites, with more backlinks and higher Domain Authority. That means that competing head-to-head for valuable keywords will be a difficult strategy, at least at first.
Instead, the Skyscraper technique suggests that marketers focus on what are known as “long tail” keywords to acquire traffic and to build Domain Authority. Over time, as you succeed in ranking for less competitive keywords, you can begin to build your ability to gradually rank for increasingly more competitive terms.
Another way to visualize this technique is with a keyword curve (see above). The curve shows more popular, but more competitive “head” keywords at the top. An example of this would be “content marketing.” As one moves down the curve, the “long tail” keywords become searched less frequently but are also less competitive. An example would be “content marketing strategies to improve SEO.”
Use Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and URLs to Increase Click Through Rate
The three elements of every page listed on Google are title tag, meta description, and URL. The content within each of these elements has a dramatic impact on click through rate. Click through rate, has been discovered by multiple SEO experts including Larry Kim, has a considerable impact on ranking.
Intuitively this makes sense, Google’s intention is to satisfy a searcher’s query, and they measure satisfaction by calculating what listing is clicked and how frequently that listing is selected.
To improve the click through rate of your results, ensure that the target keyword is used early in the title tag, meta description, and URL. Also ensure that the title tag does not exceed 70 characters and that the meta description does not exceed 160 characters, otherwise Google will shorten them.
Make sure too, that the page URL is short and readable, long, and confusing URLs can cause searchers to mistrust your listing.
Build Links Through Contributed Content
A key to improving ranking is building links. Links that appear to have been earned naturally in the eyes of Google and other search engines, are a signal that the content you’ve created is high quality.
Links operate in the same way that citations do in the academic world. A citation from a reputable academic journal can provide credibility to the author and to the author’s work. While soliciting links from other webmasters can be difficult, it can be easier to simply submit contributed content that includes a link to the page you are trying to rank.
Always Write Content with Distribution in Mind
Regardless of how great your content is, if it isn’t written with a distribution plan in mind, few people will probably ever find it. It is important for marketers interested in improving organic search traffic, to create content that will “promote itself” in some way.
If for example you write something that is controversial, or that has an interesting headline, it might be particularly successful on social media. Social shares can in time help search engine performance if people start linking to your article.
Alternatively, if the piece earns press attention because of newly released research or because of a major company announcement, media outlets can help to distribute the content through links, and social media promotion.
By thinking about your distribution strategy from the start, it will be easier to increase organic traffic through content marketing.
Learn how to Spot a “nofollow” Link
A nofollow link occurs when someone adds a “rel=”nofollow” tag to a URL embedded in a piece of content. When this occurs, search engines do not index the link. As a result, the link does not provide any search engine value to your website. Therefore, linking to your website via social media platforms, or forums is an ineffective strategy.
Every time you earn a link from another website, be sure to inspect it to see if it is wrapped in a nofollow tag. Sometimes authors are unaware that their content management system automatically defaults to nofollow links. To check, simply use Google Chrome, mouse over the link, right click, and select “inspect.” Then look for a nofollow tag next to the link, if one is not present, you’re in the clear. In the example above, the link ft.com is not wrapped with a nofollow tag.
Monitor Brand Mentions for Link Build Opportunities
A great way to quickly build links, and to, therefore, improve organic search traffic through improved rankings, is by monitoring the internet for brand mentions. Every time a website mentions your brand you should check to make sure the website is linking to your website.
If the website is not linking to the site, simply email the author asking for a link, and offer to promote the article on social media if he or she agrees to help.
Use a Tool to Track Organic Traffic
To understand if your organic search strategy is working, you need a way to track your traffic by channel. Tools like Google Analytics and Moz can easily show you what channels are referring traffic to your website. If you see an increase in traffic from organic search, it means your strategy is working.
Be aware that it is common for direct traffic (which means visitors who manually entered your website URL) to be mislabeled organic search traffic. One study showed that 60% of direct traffic is mislabeled organic search traffic for example.
Benchmark Performance Against Competitors
By using a tool like Similar Web, or through careful observation, you can determine how competitors are faring with organic search. By monitoring their performance, you can uncover hidden tactics that may be working for them, that can also work for your brand.
Alternatively, if you discover that many competitors are struggling with attracting traffic from organic search, it may indicate that you can be more aggressive in going after “head” keywords.
Write Content that is 10X Better
Content that is simply 10 times better than anything else on the first page of Google for your target keyword will be more likely to rank well, than content that is just average. Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and an SEO guru, keeps a list of examples of content that he considers to be 10X for some inspiration.
Survey Readers to See if Content is Helpful
Take a moment and think about the websites that are successful at attracting many visitors through organic search. On the business to the consumer side, sites like Amazon, Trip Advisor, and Yelp attract millions of visitors every month because they provide visitors with helpful and relevant information. On the business to business side, sites like Hubspot, Neil Patel, and Salesforce attract traffic for the same reason.
A great way to ensure that the content you create is helpful for readers is to survey them. Tools like Qualaroo allow you to send micro surveys to website visitors to understand if the content they are reading is helpful.
Get Creative with Brainstorming Keyword Ideas
Attracting more visitors from organic search requires selecting the right keywords. To brainstorm good keyword ideas, consider using a combination of Google’s suggested search phrases, aggregators like Keyword.io and good old-fashioned customer research to create a map of the keywords you’ll target with high-quality content.
Try Syndicating Content
A great way to expand brand awareness, while earning referral traffic is by developing an effective content syndication plan. Publishing content to blogging platforms like Medium or LinkedIn Pulse can be a good way to attract new readers to your website.
Just be sure to syndicate content in such a way that encourages readers to regularly visit your website first for the freshest content, rather than look at a syndicated source.
Improve Readability to Boost Time on Page, and Rankings
As was mentioned earlier, Google tracks search behavior to understand if a web page satisfied the searcher’s intent. Bounce rate is a factor that can hurt page rank if many visitors leave the web page within about 10 seconds of landing on it. When this happens, Google takes it as a signal that the content on the website was not working properly or was low quality.
By creating content that is highly readable and that encourages readers to stay on your site for a long period of time, you’ll help to improve rankings and increase website conversions.
Create an Internal Linking Process
Internal links can improve search engine ranking, especially when targeting less competitive keywords. Be sure to establish a clear internal linking process with all content writers so that they know when they should link to content. This will help to create a scalable process that grows your internal link profile with time.
Train Every Writer to Know the Basics of SEO
In addition to training writers about the importance of internal linking, all writers contributing to your website should know the basics of SEO. Important things to consider include how to properly construct a URL, title tag, and meta description. The importance of using alt text appropriately, and how to uses the target keyword and related keyword effectively in the body of the content.
Form Partnerships with Complimentary Companies
The days of content exchanges to improve ranking, and therefore organic traffic is over. But that doesn’t mean that forming partnerships with complementary brands can’t improve organic traffic. By exchanging highly valuable content in the form of blog posts, co-branded studies, or even webinars, organic performance can be improved for both brands when done well.
Apply to Become a Guest Contributor
A particularly effective way to build links is by regularly submitting content to reputable publications like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Forbes (among many others). Guest contributors are required to regularly contribute content related to common business topics. Occasionally, a contributor may be allowed to link back to his or her website. In time, this collection of backlinks helps to dramatically improve organic rankings, while also driving valuable referral visitors to the site.
Attend a Search Engine Marketing Conference to Quickly Learn Tactics
Some marketers have dedicated their entire professions to mastering search engine marketing and optimization. The easiest way to learn the ropes, and to thereby improve organic traffic, is to attend an immersive multi-day search engine conference. Events like MozCon attract creative speakers, exhibitors, and attendees.
Embrace Google AMP
Site speed is an important part of organic search performances and it is going to become increasingly important in the future. Since Google understands that visitors are interested in quickly surfacing helpful content, the company developed an architecture called AMP. AMP loads websites on mobile virtually instantly. Some content management systems support AMP out of the box, all you need to do is enable it. Others may require that a developer set up an AMP framework on your site, but doing so can pay big dividends.
For example, AMP content regularly receives a feature snippet, like the examples above.
Use Data Highlighter
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to activate Google Search Console. This dashboard helps you to manage your website listings on Google and even provides some helpful analytics to gauge performance. The search console also provides users with access to the Data Highlighter. This tool allows marketers to teach Google about the content on your website. When Google better understands this content, it makes it more likely that your web pages will appear in featured results, which have higher click through rates than traditional listings.
Audit your Website Annually
It is a good idea to regularly audit your website to ensure that technical details are not hurting search performance. Issues like 404 pages, duplicate content, and broken links can result in bad visitor experience, and lower search engine rankings. Using a software or hiring an SEO agency to annually audit your website is a search engine marketing best practice.
Stay Up to Date with Changes to Google’s Algorithm
Google does not usually announce changes to their search engine algorithm, though they do occasionally announce major updates. It is a good idea to follow SEO news to monitor search engine algorithm updates since it can have a dramatic positive or negative performance on your organic traffic.
Learn How to Strategically Insert a Keyword in Content
There are many different schools of thought about how many times a keyword should appear on a page for the page to rank well for the keyword. The easiest rule of thumb to follow is to simply use the keyword naturally in the content, without over using it. Be sure to use topically related keywords as well to signal to search engines that the content is legitimate.
Avoid Black Hat or Out Dated SEO Strategies
Google’s search engine algorithm is becoming increasingly sophisticated with time. As the company becomes even better at ranking content, it means that SEO practices that were once permissible can end up having a major negative impact on organic search performance. Avoid keyword stuffing, abusing meta data, or purchasing links from offshore agencies. Instead, focus on mastering SEO best practices to protect your website from future penalties.
Increasing traffic from organic search can take time. If your website is less authoritative, it can mean that Google will crawl your site less frequently. Even if your site is relatively highly regarded, SEO can take time to master. It can take months for an SEO strategy to pay true dividends, though when it does, it is usually well worth the wait.
Organic search marketing is one of the only low-cost options for digital marketers. When done well it can dramatically improve many different business metrics, from visitors to leaders, to sales. Mastering SEO can take time, but creating high-quality content and building reputable links back to this content, is a surefire way for improving organic traffic results in time.