There is no spell to cast when it comes to increasing traffic to your website. There is no magic wand that can teleport you into the top page of every search engine. There are, however, a number of smaller incantations that, with patience and practice, can lead to enormous results.
On-Page SEO: If You Can’t See the Ladder, You Can’t Climb It
On-Page SEO refers to the efforts made to optimize pages on your website for the purpose of improving your website’s ranking in the search engines. Specifically, on-page SEO pertains to both the content (think page titles, paragraphs, images) and the underlying HTML code (think image alt-text, URL structures) of each unique web page.
There are many excellent resources online that go into great detail on how to optimize your web pages for search engines and they all share a common mantra:
- Be Findable
- If your content is buried behind a login, paywall, or other obstructive barrier, the search engines will not be able to link up with it and those pages will not rank.
- Your content must be able to be linked to. For example, if I am a member of a website that requires a login to see the content and I send a URL link to an article I loved to a non-member, the link would redirect to a login screen. This happens to search engine bots just the same.
- Be the Answer to the Query
- Great need + Complete Answer = Higher Rankings
- The content on a web page should answer a question and fulfill the needs of the people searching for that information on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
- Every component (page title, URL, alt-text, subheadings, paragraphs) of the page should work together cohesively to deliver relevant information about the topic that the page is addressing.
- Express Your Purpose
- Make sure that each page has a specific purpose and that every element on that page is expressing it.
- URL, Page Title, Image Alt-Text, and Content should all express the same purpose.
- Have Sensible Link Structure
- Every page should have a link to your home page (this can be a word, an picture, or most commonly your company logo)
- If the page is within a specific category (for example: an employee health insurance product within an employee benefits category) then the page should link back to the category.
These are the pillars of best practice on-page SEO and without any of them, the house falls down. I encourage anyone reading this to go through their site and ask what purpose each page has and what question does each page answer for people looking for information in your niche.
A quick note about URL structure
Of all the components of on-page SEO, I think URL structure is the one that many people don’t consider or fully comprehend. It’s easy to answer the question of page purpose with content, images, alt-text, and page titles, but URL structure is so often ignored because software such as Wordpress and Wix, magically handles this for you in most cases. But they don’t always handle it well.
Each page’s URL should also express the purpose of the page. The reason for this is because URL is something that search engines also use to understand what the page is about.
Here’s an example: https://www.backpacker.com/stories/america-s-best-dayhikes-northeast
In this URL, we see that it is a story about the best daytime hiking in the Northeast. This is fairly straightforward and contributes to identifying the purpose of the page.
Here’s an example of a URL that is less helpful: https://6abc.com/archive/8979879/
In this URL, we have absolutely no idea what this page is about. It’s actually a news story but the numbers tell us nothing. Consequently, the numbers also tell Google nothing. Food for thought.
Update Regularly with Compelling Content
If you have excellent on-page SEO, then you are already ahead of the curve. In order to stay ahead, and regularly attract more business, however, you should continue to publish compelling content relevant to your niche. This can be hard for many business owners who either don’t have the time or confidence in their writing ability to contribute content on a regular business. Additionally, remembering to follow SEO best practices (i.e. include images with alt-text, use appropriate header tags, utilize keyword research etc.) can muddy up the creative process.
However daunting it may be, regularly posting new content to your website is still the best way to accumulate traffic over time and remain ‘evergreen’ in your niche. Feel free to farm this work out to professionals. In fact, if you can afford it, that is probably the best way to handle the workload. Professionals will come up with a plan, provide keyword and keyphrase research, and curate a list of topics in your niche to write about.
The upsides of regularly updating and creating content for your site are many. Adding content consistently:
- Makes Google crawl your site more regularly
- Expands the keywords that you can rank for
- Strengthens the keywords that you already rank for
- Builds your business’s status as an authority for your customers
- Enhances your website’s reputation as an authority in the eyes of search engines
- Creates traffic over time and continues to generate traffic for years and years ahead
- Adds SEO power to the articles and content that you have already written
Writing articles in your niche is definitely playing the long game, but if you plan on being around for a while, there is no better time to start playing that game then right now. There are other ways to get traffic that are more immediate. Let’s talk about some of those.
Reach Out to Your Audience on Social Media (and everywhere else!)
Shyness has never sold anyone anything. If your company doesn’t have a presence on social media, then you should stop reading this right now and create one. Seriously. I’ll wait.
Whether you have 50 followers or 5000, using social media to connect with your customers is an obvious way to get more people to visit your website. If you’re selling insurance and you have a new product, you should immediately tell your friends on Facebook about it and link to your site. Social media is more than just Facebook and Twitter, however. LinkedIn has emerged as an excellent social media tool for business to business communication. Read this excellent post about how to leverage LinkedIn to attract customers and visitors to your site.
Outside of the digital universe, make sure that you have your website on your business cards. When you are at a conference tell people about the products you offer on your site. When you are giving a talk, let people know about your site. Basically, be the opposite of shy. Be engaging.
Buy Some New Friends with a Great Ad Campaign
3,000 years ago in the 11th century BCE, a Chinese candy salesman used a bamboo flute to advertise his sweets. That’s a true story. In 1922 the first-ever radio advertisement could be heard in New York from a company selling apartments in Jackson Heights, Queens. In July of 1941, the first-ever television advertisement appeared during a telecast of the Brooklyn Dodgers playing the Phillies. (the Phillies won the game 6 to 4)
In the year 2000, Google launched its advertising platform and the rest is history. If you are a relatively new website or an established one, it never hurts to drop a few dimes on internet ads. Depending on what you are selling, the return on investment can be substantial. From selling individual products, to generating invaluable customer leads, internet advertising should not be overlooked when trying to create more incoming traffic to your site.
Ad campaigns today have the added benefit of detailed metrics that tell you how well your ads are resonating and who your audience really is. If it’s in your budget, you should definitely take advertising into consideration.
Have Your Clients/Vendors Link Back to You
Everyone loves to be linked! Links back to your website are precious and often hard to come by. Search engines are particularly fond of quality websites linking back to yours. While there are many ways to go about obtaining these rare jewels, the most obvious way might be right in front of you.
If you use vendors for some of the products you are selling, chances are that they also have a website. Since you are most likely in a mutually beneficial relationship with these vendors, it couldn’t hurt to provide them with a link to your website in return for a link back to theirs. The same goes for customers who are loyal and may also have sites that are relevant to yours. There is no shame in asking.
Leverage Your Analytics
If you aren’t using Google Analytics to understand your market and your audience then you are steering blind when it comes to web traffic. Make sure that you or a professional are looking at that data and making sense of it.
Discovering which pages are attracting the most hits, how long visitors are hanging out on your site, which states and countries are visiting, and countless other metrics help you maximize your successes while diminishing your failures. Data matters and if you don’t leverage it, you can be sure that your competitors will.
Companies like Apis Productions that can generate weekly reports about your data can make it a breeze to understand at a glance what’s going on in your digital marketplace. Knowledge isn’t just power, it’s profits.
Go Get Stuck In Traffic
So while there may not be any single solution to jamming the roadways of your website, there are lots of low and high hanging fruit to reach for. Remember to always evaluate the purpose of your site and each of its pages. Don’t become complacent about data and use every tool available to reach out to your clients and customers. Steady and consistent efforts pay off in life and on the internet, so keep at it until you’re positively stuck in traffic. See you online!