You know you’re a marketer when you’re sitting in traffic on the highway, it’s completely bumper to bumper, and all you can think about is “Why can’t I drive traffic to my website like this?”
If you’ve struggled with driving traffic to your website, you’re not alone. According to 2020 research done by Content Marketing Institute, 63% of content professionals are challenged with finding enough staff skilled in content strategy which is one of the top drivers of website traffic.
Between writing a new blog post, posting on social media, and strategizing for a new email campaign, it’s hard to look back and see what’s driving traffic to your site and what isn’t.
The list below will help you increase the traffic to your website, generate more leads, and improve ROI.
- Content Creation
- Topic Expertise
- Organic Social Media
- Website Analysis
- Collaborate with Influencers
- Email List Building
- Community Engagement
- On-Page SEO
- Quality Backlinks
- Video Marketing
- Content Repurposing
- SEO Tools
- Historical Optimization
- Voice Search Optimization
- Local SEO
- QR Codes
- A/B Testing
- Internal Linking
- Technical SEO
- Community Building
- Content Offers
- Media Coverage and Public Relations
- Social Share Buttons
- CTR Optimization
- Academy and Knowledge Base Posts
- Social News Sites
1. Content Creation
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting the right people to your company. One of the best ways to do this is by creating content through blogging.
To come up with content that will attract the right visitors to your website, you must first understand the buyer persona you’re targeting. Once you know your audience, you can create content that will naturally attract them to your website.
But how do you write a good blog post that will draw in the right audience? Follow these five steps:
- Identify your buyer persona: Find out more about your target market. Understand everything from job title to pain points.
- Conduct SEO research: Learn what your audience is searching for on search engines so you can provide the best content.
- Write a draft: Begin by drafting a post that answers your audience’s questions. Use interesting angles to make your post stand out.
- Publish: Publish your post on your blog site. Use SEO tools to optimize your content.
- Promote: Promote your blog post on social media and email newsletters to generate traffic. The more traffic your post generates, the higher it will rank in search engines.
2. Topic Expertise
Ranking higher in Google will increase the organic traffic to your site. At HubSpot, we do this by using the pillar/ topic cluster model. Google favors sites that are known to be topic experts on the subject matter they’re writing about.
To be seen as an expert, you can create a pillar page, which is essentially a longer blog post that broadly covers all aspects of a topic. Then, you write “cluster content,” or supporting blog posts, targeting long tail keywords that show you’ve covered a topic exhaustively. Focusing on long-term traffic will help you rank higher on search engines
Christina Perricone, a senior blog manager here at HubSpot, says, “The pillar cluster model organizes content on your site around a single topic and search term through internal linking. This organization helps search engines easily crawl and categorize all of the content that you have on a particular topic, thereby making it easier for you to rank for that search term. When the model is done right, it also helps visitors navigate your site and move through related pages, boosting traffic for all of the pages in your topic cluster.”
3. Organic Social Media
Organic social media is not a new strategy, but it’s still something marketers should pay attention to. Besides posting on social media platforms, you can also use Instagram Stories (hello, swipe up feature!), live video, IGTV, or Facebook Messenger. The key with organic social media is to be an early adopter of new features.
For instance, Facebook released an automated lead generation feature on Messenger, allowing businesses to create an automated chatbot experience within Messenger to link to content offers on your site. This is a great feature for sending traffic to your website.
It’s also important to have a diverse social media strategy and use the right social media platforms — not just Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Platforms like YouTube or Pinterest can generate a lot of traffic to your site.
Henry Franco, a brand marketing associate at HubSpot, recommends two things regarding organic social media. “First, don’t spam your audience — it costs a user nothing to scroll past your post, and if you don’t offer them any value, that’s exactly what they’ll do. Know your audience, and craft content that speaks directly to them,” Franco says.
“Second, stay active with community management. People love when brands like and reply to them — it’ll humanize your business, and keep people coming back for more content.”
4. Website Analysis
Let’s do a little reverse engineering of our thought process. Before you drive traffic to your website, it’s important to learn about your audience. To do this, analyze your website using platforms, such as Crazy Egg, to see where you’re losing and gaining visitors. With this information at your disposal, you can create the right content to drive the right traffic to your website.
We know that customers are more likely to buy from organizations with excellent word of mouth, but how do you create great word of mouth? First, delight your customers. Second, work with influencers.
Influencer marketing isn’t a passing fad. In fact, it’s a budget-friendly option to drive traffic to your website. When influencers post discount codes, links, reviews, or giveaways, you are tapping into their audience to drive traffic to your website.
6. Email List Building
Using your current readers and customers is a great way to drive traffic to your website. When you post a new blog or content offer, you can promote it to your followers/subscribers for a quick traffic boost. With content-heavy websites, having repeat readership is helpful for traffic goals, conversions, and lead generation.
To get started with this, build an email list or grow your current list. Below are a few strategies you can use:
- Content offers: Publish content that requires visitors to share their email address to access it. Include CTAs for content offers on your website.
- Easy-access newsletter sign-up: Include sign-up forms on your website, from your homepage to your about page. If a visitor had a delightful experience on your site, they might want to sign up for a newsletter.
- Social media: Promoting your email newsletter on social media, whether through a post or contest/giveaway, is a great way to convert your current followers into subscribers.
7. Community Engagement
The more brand recognition you have, the more traffic you will drive to your website. One way to achieve brand recognition is to be active and engaged within the market. You can implement an engagement strategy today by participating in Facebook group discussions in your industry, answering questions on public forum websites, and interacting with your followers on social media.
One of my favorite brands on social media is Taco Bell. Taco Bell delights its customers on social media just about every day. See a couple of examples from the company’s Twitter below.
In the example above, Taco Bell uses a simple tweet from a customer to engage with them and build community organically.
Just remember to be helpful and human. No one likes spammy links or self-serving rhetoric when they’re asking a quick question online.
8. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO can help your website rank higher in search engines and bring in more traffic. Some on-page SEO elements include the bpage title, header, meta description, image alt-text, and the URL (plus more). Showing up in search engines will generate more traffic for your site.
Pro tip: To get started with on-page SEO, check out our ultimate guide to on-page SEO.
9. Quality Backlinks
In order to drive traffic to your site, you need to rank high in search engines. In order to rank higher in search engines, you need to be an authority in your industry. One way to do that, besides the topic/cluster model described above, is by acquiring quality backlinks. If websites with high authority link to your site, that gives you more credibility.
Irina Nica, senior content strategist at HubSpot says, “There are two main ways in which high-quality backlinks can help drive more traffic to a website: boosting ranking and driving referral traffic. On the one hand, backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for every major search engine out there. By constantly earning high-quality backlinks from relevant websites, you’ll improve your rankings in SERP and, as a result, see a lift in your organic traffic.”
Nica adds, “On the other hand, backlinks can also drive a substantial amount of referral traffic. That’s something to be expected if you get mentioned on a popular news website. You can also see referral traffic coming through if you’re mentioned (and linked to) in an article that’s already ranking well for high search volume keywords and is getting a constant flow of traffic.
10. Video Marketing
It’s time to add video marketing to your content strategy because the audience is looking for video content. Statista reports that 77% of internet users ages 15 – 35 are using YouTube to consume video content.
You can create videos for Instagram or Facebook Stories, live videos, IGTV, Facebook Watch, news feed videos, YouTube, etc. Want to get started today? Learn everything you need to know in our ultimate guide to video marketing.
11. Content Repurposing
Need content to drive traffic to your site but struggling to come up with ideas? I get it. A great way to overcome this hurdle is to repurpose old content. Take a well-performing blog post and repurpose that into a video. Or if you have a podcast that did really well, write up a blog post on that topic. Using content that has already performed well will continue to drive traffic to your site.
12. SEO Tools
To drive traffic to your website, it’s important to be a student of SEO. Learning SEO tools such as Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and SEMrush will help you develop a strategy to generate traffic to your website.
These tools will help you learn and analyze what’s working on your site and what isn’t. Plus, these help you come up with ideas for content that has the potential to generate high traffic. Check out our roundup of the best SEO tools to monitor your website.
13. Historical Optimization
Historical optimization is the process we use at HubSpot to update old blog content and generate more traffic and leads. If you’re anything like us, a majority of your monthly blog views and leads come from older posts.
Pamela Vaughan, a principal marketing manager on HubSpot’s Web Strategy team, a.k.a. the person who introduced us to the concept of historical optimization, has written about this extensively.
She says, “Historical optimization is a tactic best-suited for a blog that’s been around for several years because you need to 1) be generating a significant amount of organic search traffic, 2) have built up a critical mass of blog subscribers and social media followers, and 3) have a sizable repository of old posts at your disposal.”
Vaughan adds, “Historical optimization should be a piece of your overall blogging strategy — not the whole strategy.”
Pro Tip: Follow her step-by-step process for historical optimization.
14. Voice Search Optimization
Remember in “The Little Mermaid” when Ariel wanted to go where the people were? That same principle applies to digital marketing. In order to drive traffic to your website, it’s important to show up where people are searching.
Voice search is an increasingly important area in which to rank. In fact, according to eMarketer, voice searches will have increased 9.7% by the end of 2021. That’s why optimizing your content for voice search is essential.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Research long tail keywords: When people use voice search, they speak in full sentences rather than short phrases. To optimize for voice search, start researching longer-tail keywords.
- Write answer-focused content: The content you write should answer your audience’s questions.
- Optimize for snippets: Smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home look for short, concise answers. Writing quick summaries in your posts makes it easier for search engines and smart speakers to find the answer they need.
15. Local SEO
If your company is a brick-and-mortar store, local SEO is an important factor to consider. My colleague, Kelsey Smith, wrote about it in this blog. She says, “To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.”
For example, when someone types in “best soul food restaurant” on Google, the results are generated by the user’s location. Tools such as Google My Business and Moz Local help businesses manage their directory listings and citations so they show up in local searches. Here’s a restaurant that shows up for that search in Memphis, TN.
To rank for local search:
- Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) is consistent on your Google My Business and social media pages.
- Use a directory management tool to monitor directories like Yelp, Foursquare, Best of the Web, etc.
- Research and use location-based search terms on sites like Google Trends, which analyzes popular search terms across various regions.
16. QR Codes
If there’s one thing that brings technology and the real world together better than any other tool, I’d bet my bottom dollar it’s the QR code. This interesting image of pixels can drive traffic to your website from just about anywhere with a flat surface. And they’re not just for restaurants trying to operate safely during the Covid-19 pandemic — marketers love them because they drive traffic — trackable traffic.
The main catch with QR codes is that you have to give the user a reason to scan them, so you can’t place them haphazardly. That shouldn’t be too difficult though, think of it as creating a real-life CTA button. If you make it enticing and accessible enough, people will scan it, and you’ll get to assess the success of that QR code’s placement in real-time. When you use a dynamic QR code generator, your QR code will remain the same and still be accessible even if your web address changes later. That’s something you’d spend weeks figuring out in a digital-only traffic campaign.
17. A/B Testing
Besides driving traffic to your website, you know you’re a marketer when your motto is, “Test, test, and test again.”
A/B testing is a split test that helps you determine what version of a campaign performs best. These tests can give you key information about your audience so you can create tailored content and offers that drive traffic to your site. There are a lot of tools you can use to get started. Check out our roundup of the best A/B testing tools.
18. Internal Linking
When a visitor comes to your blog, your goal is to get them to continue reading on other pages of your website. That’s why internal links — links to other pages on your site — are very important. When visitors continue to other pages of your website they’re more likely to convert and become a brand enthusiasts.
For example, you can create an internal linking structure using the pillar/cluster model described above. Pillar and cluster pages link back and forth, which boosts your site’s credibility on search engines, while also increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
19. Technical SEO
Technical SEO focuses on the backend of your website to see how the pages are technically set up and organized. Factors include elements like page speed, crawling, indexing, and more. Matthew Howells-Barby, HubSpot’s director of acquisition, has written about technical SEO in this blog.
In it, he says, “Don’t underestimate the power of technical SEO changes. [Technical SEO] resulted in us growing our organic traffic by more than 50% in just one month.”
To get started with your technical SEO, use some of the tips from Howells-Barby’s article, including:
- Fix broken links and redirects.
- Create an XML sitemap for your subdomains.
- Set up language meta tags.
- Add custom H1 and introductions to topic pages.
20. Community Building
Building a community of brand enthusiasts is a great way to continuously drive traffic to your website. You can build a Facebook group, Twitter chat, LinkedIn Group, or Quora Space specifically for your followers and others in your industry where you create value, while also linking back to your site.
A great example of community building comes from career coaching business CultiVitae. They have a closed Facebook group where Emily, the founder, answers questions and provides networking opportunities.
With over 10.3k members in this group, CultiVitae creates value for its followers, while also promoting its product.
These types of communities keep you top of mind in your customer’s eyes. Plus, it’s a great way to engage with your followers and learn more about your audience as they evolve over time.
21. Content Offers
Content offers, sometimes referred to as lead magnets, are a way to use content to drive traffic to your site and generate leads. Content offers vary depending on what stage of the buyer’s journey your customer is in, but can include webinars, guides, reports, trials, demos, checklists, and more.
22. Media Coverage and Public Relations
Earned media coverage is a great way to drive brand awareness for your company and traffic to your website. If your marketing and public relations teams work together, you can generate traffic to your site and create excellent word of mouth.
Ellie Flanagan, a senior corporate communications manager at HubSpot, says, “Although most outlets these days try to stay away from including backlinks in their stories (it’s usually against their editorial guidelines), that doesn’t mean that a good story won’t drive folks back to your site.
Media coverage provides great third-party validation for your company. Stories about new products or services, your company culture, or even industry thought leadership can all be great drivers for a reader who maybe hadn’t heard of your company before and wants to learn more.”
23. Social Share Buttons
Social share buttons are links that make it easy for your readers to share your content on social media. When your readers become promoters of your content, your traffic will increase. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on creating social share buttons.
Once you’ve created your social share buttons, how do you get people to share your content? Here are a few tips to get started:
- Ask people to share on social media.
- Create strong content.
- Include quotable content.
- Add multimedia such as images, videos, infographics, etc.
24. CTR Optimization
Once your content is posted and you begin ranking on search engines, make sure people are clicking through to read your posts. Your click-through rate (CTR) measures who clicked on your post and read it against the number of people who viewed the link to your post (e.g., the landing page, email, or advertisement) in total.
A great tool to measure your organic CTR is Google Search Console. To get more people to click through and drive traffic to your site, it’s important to write compelling and apt meta descriptions and titles. To write quality meta tags that are click-worthy, make sure your titles are short and snappy, and your description leaves visitors wanting more. This ties into on-page SEO, described above.
25. Academy and Knowledge Base Posts
One form of content that can drive traffic to your website is educational content. If you create courses, certifications, or educational posts that are helpful to your audience, you’ll likely see an increase in traffic.
For example, HubSpot uses HubSpot Academy to generate content that is helpful to our audience. We provide videos, certification courses, and knowledge base articles to answer questions. See an example of a knowledge base article below.
26. Social News Sites
Have you heard of Reddit and Quora? These are social news sites and they’re great for driving traffic to blog articles. By nature, these platforms are similar to social media because they foster asynchronous connections between users. The difference is that these types of sites engage people around a question or topic, and external content can be shared to help explain the users’ points of view.
Another way external sites benefit from increased traffic via social news sites is when they’re shared in popular channels. You can share your website’s content on these sites yourself if you’re just starting out, but do so carefully. Just like on traditional social sites, too much self-promotion is frowned upon in the Reddit and Quora communities. You’ll fare best when you share your content in context of the topic and when it’s the best information to answer the user’s question.
- Paid Advertising
- Contests and Giveaways
- Guest Posting
- Thought Leadership
1. Paid Advertising
You can drive traffic to your website quickly with paid advertising. With search engines, you can run pay-per-click or retargeting ads. With social media you can run display ads or sponsored posts. Your strategy will most likely include a combination of different types of advertising like social media, display, and search ads. In fact, according to the 2020 CMO Survey, firms expect social spending to rise by 62% over five years.
2. Contests and Giveaways
A simple way to drive traffic to your website is through contests and giveaways. This can give you a quick boost, while also rewarding your followers. You can host giveaways on social media, through your email list, or both.
Implementing a strategy like this can be simple. Just follow these six steps:
- Decide what platform on which to host your giveaway. (You can use multiple.)
- Choose a prize. (Free tickets, discount, etc … )
- Select the criteria. (Website comments, email sign up, etc … )
- Write the ad copy.
- Create the graphics.
- Post and promote the contest or giveaway.
3. Guest Posting
In that same vein, writing guest posts can generate traffic to your site. Guest posting shows you’re active in your community, while also linking to your website — more on generating backlinks below.
To implement a guest posting strategy, you need to find a site that would be a good fit for your company, draft a blog post, and then write a pitch. Caroline Forsey, senior content strategist on the Blog team, says, “I’m always particularly intrigued with a guest pitch if it shows me the writer has done their research ahead of time.
For instance, I’d pay much closer attention to a pitch if it tells me how this piece could appeal to my readers. Additionally, I’m impressed when a writer can recognize gaps in our content and how their piece will fill those gaps, rather than competing with existing content.”
As an example, here’s what HubSpot looks for in guest posts to the Marketing Blog.
4. Thought Leadership
According to Edelman’s and LinkedIn’s 2020 research, more than half of decision makers spend an hour or more reading thought leadership content each week. It’s clear that people have an interest in this topic, so why not dedicate more of your calendar to it?
Just about every industry has several well-respected people with words of wisdom to share. Even if they come from a completely different background than what your company specializes in, influential thought leaders have transferable knowledge that can be helpful for your readers.
When choosing a thought leader, the most well-known person isn’t your only option. Instead, look for great storytellers. The HubSpot Blog Team recommends keeping your eyes peeled for up-and-coming experts as well as individuals who thrive in less hyper-digital industries like agriculture, food and beverage, and humanitarian work like Sippie Siphiwe Mungaraza does at Mealtime Limited.
Most of you will have heard the term SEO thrown around in relation to digital marketing, online businesses, or internet circles in general. Regardless, you’d be surprised how many people simply remember those three letters but never really understand what they mean.
If that’s you, we’ve got you covered, and if this is your first time coming across the phrase, then you’re in luck. In this post, you’re going to learn everything you need to know in order to carry out an effective SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. We’re going to cover:
- What SEO is and why it’s more important than ever.
- The basics of an SEO strategy (keywords, meta data, and link-building, technical components).
- Eight specific tactics that will set you up for SEO success based on SEO trends.
The importance of SEO
According to Safari Digital, approximately 61% of marketers believe that SEO is the key to online success, which is why modern businesses allocate an average of 41% of their marketing budget to it. In short, taking the time to outline a proper SEO strategy can revolutionize not just your online traffic but your business as a whole.
Given the way the world is right now, internet use is as high as it’s ever been. The pandemic has us doing more online shopping, streaming even more movies and television than usual, and attending enough Zoom meetings for a lifetime. SEO has been crucial for so many organizations throughout 2020 and we expect 2021 to be much of the same. So, as we approach the New Year, how can you create an SEO strategy that moves with the times? Well, let’s start with the basics.
What every SEO strategy must have
SEO is essentially the practice of using certain qualitative content principles and technical improvements to improve your online traffic and rankings on SERPs (search engine results pages). Quantity plays a big part too. Writing more content, using more links, and using a wider variety of keywords is a great way to rank higher over time—this is called ‘scaling’ and it’s pretty much what it sounds like.
So, there are a few things we’ve chucked in there. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s rattle off the main tools you’ll be using to start building your 2021 SEO strategy:
1. Keyword targeting
Keywords are phrases that are commonly searched for on Google, Bing, etc. and they are a crucial part of determining your website’s rankings. Use the right amount of keywords in the right places and in time you’ll see your pages climb up the leaderboards.
Keyword strategy has changed a lot over the years, it used to just be stuff as many in there as possible, but lots of content then became spammy and sites were ultimately penalized by Google’s algorithms. These days, you need to do your keyword research, use a wide variety of keywords, and fit them in naturally. Google gets smarter by the day, so they’ll make you work for it.
You can think of metadata almost as your shop window. Your meta title and meta description are the first things a user sees in the SERP which influences whether or not they click.
Also, Google uses what are known as ‘crawlers’ (imagine tiny robot spiders), to scan through websites and collect information that matches search queries. By including keywords in your meta data (including image tags and heading tags) Google can more quickly understand the relevance of your page.
As we move into the more technical side of things, another crucial factor in SEO performance is acquiring backlinks. This is when another website links to yours in an article or blog post. Not only does this help you gain what is known as domain authority, but it also directly improves the chances of people clicking through to your website if it appears on other reliable domains.
You can earn organic links by simply writing engaging content: the better your work and the more closely you match with a person’s search intent, the more likely others in your industry are to reference your site. This overarching process is known as link-building and while you can simply reach out to other sites to trade links—quid pro quo—there a plenty of other activities that can help speed up this process:
- Guest blogging.
- Answering questions on sites like Quora.
- Creating shareable content such as videos and infographics.
- Using industry contacts and sharing on social (e.g. LinkedIn).
4. Technical SEO
Carrying on from that, there are various other technical issues in the back end of your site that once addressed, can make a huge difference in your overall SEO results. At the end of the day, if your website’s UX isn’t smooth and accessible, it’s going to be hard for any visitor to do anything significant on your website. For context, over 50% of all online traffic is mobile, so when it comes to things like UX, the technical stuff matters.
Whether it’s ensuring site speeds are quick, removing ‘toxic’ backlinks (links to websites that are deemed irrelevant or untrustworthy etc.), or creating a clear XML sitemap with a clean URL structure, all of these technical SEO tips can be huge when it comes to securing those higher rankings. You don’t want anything to get in the way of SEO doing its job, which is allowing for people to find your website organically.
5. SEO metrics
You can’t do effective SEO if you don’t know what “effective” means! You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of SEO metrics in order to measure, analyze, and improve your SEO strategy.
Why is organic traffic and SEO important?
If you’re looking for longevity and cost-effectiveness when it comes to your digital marketing, organic search strategies driven by SEO can’t be beaten. Not only is SEO cheaper than paid advertising but its effects are longer lasting. While PPC campaigns need to be renewed and bidding costs fluctuate, SEO tracking tools use organic data to compile lists of keywords and continue to throw up more content ideas the deeper you dig.
Admittedly, SEO can feel like a slow burn at first. Nevertheless, you can start to see serious upturns in your overall traffic and rankings after a few months. Furthermore, the longer you stay at it, the more backlinks and site authority you build, meaning you can go for even bigger and better keywords, and so on and so forth.
Even starting at the other end of the spectrum—targeting long-tail keywords and more detailed variants—especially when it comes to content and specific sub-topics, is an excellent way for SMBs to see results early and build a platform towards momentum. Over a third of Google’s total search queries feature four or more words (i.e. long-tail keywords). Not only are these keywords less competitive and therefore easier to rank for, but they can also still drive plenty of cumulative traffic organically.
8 tips to build an effective SEO strategy
It isn’t always about trying to go for the most popular search terms and expecting to be able to compete with the big fish right out of the gate. It’s about knowing your audience and trying to provide the content, information, and overall service they want/need. With that in mind, here are eight SEO tips that are just as effective now in 2021 as they have always been.
You may also be interested in our epic website audit checklist (with a six-tab Google Sheet) to help you out with your strategy.
1. Write for humans first and search engines second
As mentioned already, the Google algorithm gets smarter by the day and using constant human input, continues to better align with our thinking. That being said, there is no clever loophole or magic formula to outwit a search engine, so don’t bother trying. Write for humans first and search engines second.
Ultimately, your priority should always be to provide your audience with what they are looking for, and that only comes through writing engaging and fundamentally naturalistic content. Anyone can spot a keyword that’s been shoehorned in and stuffing is even more blatant, so fit them in where it makes sense and allow driving keywords to elevate your already informative and valuable content.
2. Use targeted keywords in all the right places
Whilst the motivation should always be humans first, search engines second, the bedrock of this whole process is keywords. Not only do they get to the heart of what visitors and Google are looking for by isolating common search terms, but SEO also drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media, which itself dominates over half of all online traffic. So, if keywords are at the heart of SEO, they should be at the heart of everything you do, too.
However, once again, it isn’t about just chucking them in left, right, and center. It all starts with keyword research. Use SEO tools like Google Ads, Ahrefs and even simple on-site search bars to identify broad search intent and your “seed” keywords. Then dig deeper to find more long-tail variants, study competitors to find keyword gaps, and don’t forget to include them in your metadata as well as the anchor text for your links. Lastly, remember not to keyword stuff. Fit them in naturally so as not to disrupt the readability of your copy.
3. Focus on user experience (UX)
There is nothing worse than having to navigate a site that you can barely use. In fact, after more than a few seconds of frustration, most people don’t bother and Google will struggle to make the best out of it too. Things like dead links, error pages, and messy site structures will all impact what people take away from your website.
Not only do users value a good experience and easy navigation, but this seamlessness also helps Google’s crawlers scan your content and determine your SERP rankings. Use headings and short, easy to read paragraphs, tidy up your sub-folders, and optimize for mobile. All of these things will help to reduce your bounce rate, improve your rankings, and generate better conversion overall.
And now that Core Web Vitals have become a ranking factor via the page experience update, you should be optimizing page speed more than ever.
4. Focus on building relevant links
As mentioned, another key aspect in building domain reputation/site authority is link-building. We’ve already touched upon why outbound/external links are important: you not only enhance the information you are providing but you can receive reciprocal backlinks through outreach, etc.
Furthermore, links are a key ranking factor. Bots/crawlers discover content by following links through to subsequent pages and judging how relevant they are to a search query. This goes for internal linking as well, so don’t be afraid to link to other useful pages on your site where necessary and where it feels natural. 51% of marketers notice an impact after one to three months of implementing a link-building strategy.
We talk a lot about link building in our 10-step SEO audit—check it out.
5. Format content for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets pretty much rule SERPs these days. It’s likely that you’re familiar with them even if you haven’t heard the term before. They are the highlighted answer boxes that appear at the top of the pages for most search queries. If you manage to earn a featured snippet, you’re doing something right.
There are certain formatting and stylistic choices you can make to up your chances of landing a featured snippet: bullet points, numbered lists, infographics and answering question-based searches directly, to name a few. Whilst there is data that shows snippets don’t always result in direct clicks, as the search query is answered in the Google preview itself, over 19% of SERPs have featured snippets and counting. They are great for raising brand awareness and getting your name out there. Therefore, the clicks will still come.
6. Remove anything that slows down your site
Once again, it can’t be overstated how simple it is to get the technical stuff right in order for your website and specific content to speak for itself. Whether you’re writing informative blogs, selling a product/service, or simply pointing someone in the right direction, your site needs to be quick, accessible, and easy to use. These days, people expect instant information and instant results. If your site takes an age to load, they’ll simply move on.
There are a number of ways you can improve site speed and the overall smoothness of your UX: delete old/defunct plugins, clean up your code, optimize and compress your images, make sure your sub-folders flow and make sense, and use tools like Google Page Speed Insights or GTmetrix to continue monitoring in the future.
7. Pay attention to Google algorithm updates
We’ve briefly touched on this already but Google gets smarter and more intuitive by the day. The core updates and tweaks to the algorithm are constant and often unexpected, with sites either benefitting or being penalized for how closely they adhere to the most recent update.
Rankings and penalties are determined by a variety of factors: accessibility, speed, excessive advertising or spammy content, etc. Whilst it can’t always be avoided, there are a few easy steps you can take to stay in touching distance. Firstly, subscribe to industry websites and forums to keep track of recent/impending updates. Google’s Search Console Community is a good start – and make sure to closely track your traffic using services like Google Analytics and SEMrush to see where updates may have occurred, so you can then adjust accordingly.
8. Improve existing content & add missing subtopics
Lastly, you need to remember that there is no real finish line when it comes to your SEO strategy. Constant updates and battling with your competitors means that there’s always work to be done, not to mention that you can still improve on what you’ve done already. If you haven’t been using SEO properly already, going back and updating content with keywords, backlinks, and better readability is a great way to get started. You can even ensure that pages that have been performing better maintain traffic growth or build upon that standard by regularly updating them.
Circling back to your keyword research, this is a great opportunity to use these phrases and competitor analysis as the basis for a long-term content plan. Each keyword should branch off into a plethora of others and with that comes more ideas for content. Rather than writing, say, one piece of a specific topic, make it a ‘cornerstone’ article from which a number of other more specific ones spawn. A proper content audit can be done using tools like SEMrush and Yoast; adding and updating old content can double your traffic —just try to make it as evergreen as possible and be sure to use that internal and external linking we talked about.
Lock in SEO success for 2022
This post only scratches the surface of what SEO is all about. It’s a discipline that grows more complex and nuanced by the day, but by giving you some tried and true tips that have stood the test of time in this field, you should be well prepared to handle whatever 2021 throws at us.
To get more information and examples of SEO for beginners, intermediates, all the way up to experts, we has a wealth of resources at your disposal. The SEO landscape is constantly shifting, so don’t leave it any longer to play catch up!