Search engine optimization (SEO (opens in new tab)) is a vital inbound marketing strategy. Recent research shows that around two-thirds of marketers actively work on SEO to reach their target audience.
Since organic search drives more than half of all trackable website traffic, it is hardly surprising.
Done right, SEO can do wonders for your business. It involves work on multiple fronts, be it the technical aspect or monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs). The aim of these tactics is both to gain and maintain visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs (opens in new tab)).
Julia Nesterets (opens in new tab) is the CEO of Jetoctopus (opens in new tab), the most affordable and powerful crawler and log analyzer that lives in the cloud. She’s on a mission to make SEO easier and friendlier.
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Better visibility offers businesses a chance to nurture leads and convert them into repeat buyers. However, you cannot achieve this goal without ranking in the SERPs. A cursory glance at the list of some of the top destination websites (excluding Google) on Similarweb show that about 90% of all web traffic comes from search engines.
Further, websites on the first page of search engines like Google get more than 90% of consumer traffic. Yet, marketers often overlook SEO in favor of other marketing platforms. Businesses are increasingly leveraging organic social media to capture leads. In reality, SEO still brings the vast majority of traffic to most websites.
Hence, it is crucial to develop a marketing strategy that boosts your rank in the SERPs. But, there is a caveat when it comes to ‘doing’ SEO effectively. Search engines regularly implement changes to their algorithms. They introduce new metrics to judge a site’s relevance to the users’ queries. This means there cannot be one timeless SEO strategy.
Businesses need to closely follow and execute the changes introduced by the search engines. Otherwise, they risk being penalized and slipping down the SERPs. In fact, about three quarters of users never go beyond the first page of search results.
Thus, it is critical to not just rank but to win a place on the all important first page of Google. While it will not happen overnight, a few measures will go a long way to ensure that your site performs in the search engine rankings.
Follow these foolproof techniques:
1. Perform SEO audits
An SEO audit involves checking your site for issues that may prevent it from getting organic traffic. A comprehensive audit has several areas. Of these, On-page SEO is perhaps the most important. It helps flag website issues related to:
- Duplicate content
- Internal and external links
- Search engine updates
- Optimization for mobile devices
These factors play a critical role in getting a site indexed by search engine bots. The deeper it can be crawled, the better chance it has to win a rank in the SERPs.
On-page SEO audit begins with a crawl; there are many tools (they’re called crawlers within the onpage SEO tool (opens in new tab) category) to perform this. All of them are efficient at their jobs and offer insights into:
- Indexing status
- Manual actions (if any) taken against a site
- Status codes
- Duplicate content
- Interlinking structure
- Loading time
Having a definite idea about these aspects will make it easier for you to tailor your SEO strategy according to what is or is not working with search engines like Google.
2. Leverage analytics to track metrics
Every successful SEO strategy begins with knowing your competition and target audience in the online marketplace. If you don’t research these two, you will waste resources on campaigns that don’t yield revenue.
While most businesses get this right, they fail to follow-up on the impact of their promotional campaigns.
Collecting and analyzing data on SEO tactics is crucial to identify the areas for improvement. Integrate your website with tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to collect information about:
- The browsers people are using to access your site
- The devices they prefer to consume content
- The platforms on which people discover about your business
Once done, leverage this data to introduce strategic changes that improve user experience, thereby increasing your SEO efficiency. You can also combine these insights with the ones from On-page SEO audits to get a clear picture of your performance.
Here, there’s a plethora of tools that can help. Most offer a comprehensive analysis of pages that are inside your site structure, getting visited by the search engine bots, and getting impressions on the SERPs. And the visa versa: the pages in site structure which are ignored by search bots and won’t get indexed if nothing changes.
Some offer GSC integration which tells you about the keywords for which your site ranks on the SERPs and the country-wise and device data of impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and positions.
With the option to compare the day-to-day results of your website’s SEO health, it is undoubtedly the best tool out there to make data-backed changes to your marketing strategies.
3. Improve headlines and descriptions
The internet is full of competing content. The real challenge then becomes to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by crafting eye-catching headlines. On average, 8 out of 10 users click through a title if it is compelling.
A high-quality headline leads to both a higher CTR and quality score by the search engines.
Whether you are creating new headlines or perfecting existing ones, ensure they are relevant and concise. While they need to grab users’ attention, they must be natural and appealing.
Before you sit down to work on your titles, dig around for ideas. Conduct keyword research and analyze viral headlines that generate traffic. Ask yourself two questions:
- Do they have anything in common?
- What made them popular with the audience?
Use the answers to brainstorm ideas for your headlines. There are also plenty of platforms to offer content insights (e.g. SEO Keyword researching tools (opens in new tab)). Gauge the headlines of the entries that pop up for your keyword. They will inspire you to create titles that bring social shares and traffic.
A meta description is another pivotal area for a solid SEO strategy. It tells us the users what to expect after they click the title. It offers a clear description of the content that a headline carries. Further, it aims to answer the query that users may have to prompt them to click through the link. Thus, it is vital to craft it in a way that brings clicks and impressions on the SERPs.
The image above highlights the various elements of a search result, including title and meta description. The latter neatly sums up the article outline. To create an effective meta description, follow these best practices:
Provide an answer: Users come online with an intent. It could relate to finding self-help tips, buying a product or service, or exploring nearby options to head out. Answer this intent in your meta description ad copy.
Furthermore, use tools to analyze the impact your meta description is making. Prioritize those that help you gauge the effect of queries in your title and even H1.
Be relevant: Ensure that meta description is specific to the keywords that users enter into the search boxes. Make it descriptive and include details that help them judge if the content matches their needs.
Do not use keyword-stuffed content that brings no value to the users. Clickbait content will cause them to leave your site within a few seconds, thus giving it a high bounce rate in the SERPs.
Keep it brief: Search engines like Google assess meta descriptions by pixels, not characters. This means Google cuts them off after a certain width. Still, 155 characters is a good marker to keep in mind when working out an effective meta description.
Using these methods, you will see a noticeable difference in your website traffic over time.
4. Reoptimize underperforming content
Often, marketers try to avoid traffic decay by publishing new content. However, this tactic may not always work. A recently published study reveals that long tail in search traffic is a reality. Most traffic to most sites come from old posts. Thus, revamping them is necessary to continue engaging the users online.
Strive to make your old content fresh, accurate, and comprehensive. The idea is to work on aspects that make it noticeably different from its earlier version. The process involves two easy steps:
Identify content worth updating: It could be a blog post, page, or ad copy. Check them for keywords. Your content may be competing for head keywords in the SERPs. If it is, you are probably losing out on some valuable traffic.
Search engines reward content pages that are optimized for long-tail keywords. That’s because, unlike head keywords, they are specific and less competitive.
Update and publish: Second, follow the methods we shared earlier to improve the titles and meta description of your content. Assign your blog posts a new publish date and suitable tags and categories so that internet users can find them easily. Once done, promote them across all marketing channels.
5. Deploy topics cluster strategy
Topic clusters are content pages that build on an idea briefly discussed in a pillar page. They cover sub-themes of a pillar page in separate posts and have topic clusters of their own. For example, ‘Technical SEO’ can be a topic cluster for a pillar page on ‘Strategies to boost organic traffic.’
Topic clustering helps you to:
- Build authority of the pillar pages on the SERPs
- Organize your website pages strategically
- Win qualified leads by targeted content marketing
- Rank better for your keywords
- Strengthen internal linking (more on this below)
Given its advantages, topic clustering is gaining traction with marketers across the globe. Take a cue from these steps to build a successful topic cluster strategy for your website:
Identify topics for pillar pages: Your pillar page should be an umbrella topic that can be broken down into sub-themes. It should be a key topic that establishes expertise in your niche.
Analyze pillar pages for topic clusters: Since topic clusters take off from pillar pages, they must allow you to get super specific with your chosen sub-theme. Topic clusters need to be relevant and offer value-adding content to the audience.
Research keywords: As a strategy, the reason behind deploying topic clustering is to be able to use keywords and drive traffic. Hence, do not forget to optimize your topic clusters for long-tail keywords.
Keep track of growth: Topic clusters do not fetch instant results. But once a page starts drawing in readers, others follow suit. The important thing is to be patient and keep tracking growth using SEO tracking tools.
Link internally: Your pillar pages and topic clusters must link back to each other in a way that looks natural. Make sure you are strategic with placing links within your content. This will show search engines that your website is structured and can be crawled effortlessly.
6. Manage internal links
An internal link connects the pages of your website. It has the same source and target domain. Internal links aid navigation and distribute page authority throughout a site.
Below are three tips to ace your internal linking game:
Develop content: Internal links take users to different pages of relevant and helpful content on a website. Build up a killer content marketing strategy to set up a rich content archive. It should both educate them and address their pain points.
Use anchor text: The blue and underlined text that directs readers to another page on the site is anchor text. Yes, this is it. Do not optimize it. It should naturally fit in the sentence that carries it.
Link well: This may sound like an obvious point. But it is often the most overlooked. In a bid to include a call to action at the bottom of their posts, marketers link their ‘Contact Us’ and ‘Homepage’. Make sure you don’t.
Steer clear of using anchor texts for these two pages as they are already up on the main navigation bar. Instead, link your underperforming pages. This will boost the overall SEO of your website.
7. Use a featured snippet
A featured snippet is a brief excerpt from a web page that ranks for position zero in the SERPs. It is the topmost result that shows up for a user query. It is usually in the form of a table, list, or short paragraph. Often, these are accompanied by pictures to aid understanding.
The image below shows a list feature snippet for ‘how to create a solid content marketing strategy.’
Studies have revealed that not using a featured snippet can lead to a not-so-insignificant traffic loss. Thus, it is necessary to include it in your overall SEO strategy. While you must already rank on the first page to win a zero position, featured snippets are nonetheless important to win and engage leads.
In fact, content with featured snippets also attract on average twice more click-through rate. Follow these suggestions to create a featured snippet that drives traffic:
- Sketch an outline to help search engines like Google understand your content and how it fits into your site.
- Keep it concise. Featured snippets with 40-50 words get the most clicks.
- Use high-quality multimedia content.
- Do a Q&A format. Since most featured snippets come up for a query, use questions in your headings.
- Structure them using bullets, numbers, and header tags. This will improve their readability.
8. Improve page speed
Largest contentful paint (LCP) is a core web vital that measures the time taken by the main contents of a page for loading (and a core component of Core Web Vitals). Seen from the point of view of users online, it is the load speed. A high loading speed is a turn-off for the audience as they want instant results for their queries.
In fact, research shows that 1 in 4 consumers abandon a site if its loading speed is above 4 seconds. If your site doesn’t provide users a super user experience, they will leave it, thus giving it a high bounce rate.
Search engines reward sites that have a low bounce rate in the SERPs. Hence, you must focus on page speed to ramp up your SEO tactics. There are tools like Google PageSpeed Insights that tell you about your pages’ performance. If there is any page with a LCP of above 2.5 seconds, improve it by:
- Removing unnecessary third-party scripts
- Upgrading your web host
- Compressing large page elements
- Using lazy loading
- Optimizing CSS
While there are plenty of options available in the market to improve your LCP, we suggest you use a tool that is especially designed for technical SEO. This will ensure that you are working on the SEO front where the work is needed to power your LCP.
Driving traffic to your website doesn’t have to be challenging. There are tools and techniques that make the process easy. Using the tips shared above, create a killer SEO strategy that drives traffic to your website!
- Also, check out our list of the best WordPress SEO plugins (opens in new tab) available