Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 09:12 am
Knowing how to drive traffic to your website is a key to the long term success of your business or blog.
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- What is SEO?
- How Do I Improve my Search Engine Optimization?
- Step 1: Getting a Look at Your Website's Current SEO State
- Determine Which Pages Perform Well and Which ones Don't
- Keyword Research Tips to Increase Website Traffic
- Make Sure the Article is Long Enough
- Stay on Topic
- Use a Heading Structure That Organizes the Content
- Grammar and Spelling
- Use an Effective Title
- Focus on Evergreen Content
- Make Sure Images have Alt Text
- Link Out to External Sites that are Reputable and Related
Getting your website to show up on search engines is one of the primary keys to getting new traffic. While other methods such as sharing your website via social media can give you traffic bumps and the rare chance of going viral, the results are generally transient. Search engine traffic however, is more consistent and last much longer.
In this post I’m going to talk about some of the basics of SEO and how to drive traffic to your website.
What is SEO?
If you’re here, you probably already know this, but for those who might have stumbled onto this post by some other means, SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization and helps guide you on how to increase traffic on websites.
This post includes many SEO tips for beginners and other content creators who may have a bit more experience with SEO.
How Do I Improve my Search Engine Optimization?
SEO is an ever changing topic. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms for finding content. But there is always one constant requirement when it comes to how to drive traffic to your website: you need good content.
While there are plenty of paid SEO services available, writing good content that actually reflects what people search for on the Internet is the cheapest way to drive traffic to a website. In fact, if you’re looking at how to drive traffic to your website for free, the following simple SEO tips will get you moving in the right direction.
Step 1: Getting a Look at Your Website’s Current SEO State
In order to know what to improve on your site, you need to do some analysis on what you’ve already got. Fortunately, there are lots of tools out there that provide a good look at how the rest of the world sees your website from an SEO perspective.
Determine Your Domain Rating
Domain Rating, also known as DR, is one of the best ways to see how search engines view your website as a whole. Domain Rating is scored from 0 – 100 and is a reflection of how reputable your site is perceived by search engines. The higher the Domain Rating, the more likely that your content will be presented in search engine results.
Because search engines like Google don’t actually publish how they rate domains, there are tools by other companies that make an estimate based on various factors such as how many other websites link to yours and how many pages from your website are indexed in search engines.
The free Website Authority Checker by ahrefs is a good place to start and will give you an idea of where you currently stand. For paid tools, Semrush also has their own Domain Rating checker you can use as well.
Look at Your Backlink Profile
One of the strongest signals to search engines about the quality of your content is how many other sites link to yours. When another website links to you, it’s like a vote of confidence.
But all backlinks are not equal. For example, a link to your site from highly authoritative domain counts much more than a bunch of comment links in random blogs around the internet.
The best way to get good backlinks is to create great content that other sites willingly link to as a resource.
You can get a rough idea of your backlinks in the previously mentioned Website Authority Checker by ahrefs. You can also get some details on external links leading to your site from Google Search Console.
Step 2: Analyze Your Current Content
If your website already has a lot of content, you need to analyze what’s working and change what’s not working. Common analytics tools like Google Analytics can tell you which pages are the most popular on your site, and more importantly how much traffic you’re getting from search engines like Google.
Determine Which Pages Perform Well and Which ones Don’t
Even more beneficial, Google Search Console will tell you not only what pages get the most traffic from Google, but also what keywords were being searched for where one of your pages appeared in the results.
You’ll likely see that you have some pages which perform very well and others that get almost no search engine traffic at all. To increase your search engine traffic, you will probably need to use different strategies depending on the current performance of each page.
Keep a note of all your content that currently performs well, and content that doesn’t perform well.
Google Search Console also lets you submit sitemaps of your site so that all of your pages and posts get indexed. Check out the video below to see how to set it up.
Keyword Research Tips to Increase Website Traffic
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects to SEO is keyword research. It’s also one of the most boring tasks when it comes to writing good content and as a result, it’s one of the tasks most content-creators skip or ignore.
Keyword research involves using tools like Google Keyword Planner to look at your target keywords and see how often they’re searched for and how much competition there is for sites to rank. Once you have this data for each of your pages, you can move to the next step.
Notes for Well-Performing Content
For posts and pages that are already performing well, you can see which search queries are generating the most traffic right in Google Search Console. Use keyword research to find related keywords with good search volume and then record them in your notes.
The goal is to target keywords with lower competition and high volume. Once you have those keywords for each post, you’ll update your content to include those keywords which will help increase the total number of searches that return your page.
Notes for Poor-Performing Content
This one is more tricky because you might not have any keyword data from Google Search Console if the content isn’t already getting any search traffic.
Perform your keyword research based on what you were targeting and see what the search volume is. If it is very low, then you may not be able to make any meaningful changes because there is no one out there looking for what your content offers. It’s important to recognize which content you have already written that doesn’t have search potential so you don’t waste your time trying to improve it.
That being said, it’s important not to jump to the conclusion that no one is searching for the information in your article. Pay attention to related keywords which might be more popular than what you intended. Those new keywords might be more relevant to your existing content and there’s a chance you can improve your results by adding those keywords in.
Step 3: Update Your Current Content
Because you’re probably looking for the quickest method on how to drive traffic to your website, starting with content you’ve already created is a good idea because you’ve already done a lot of the work simply by creating it.
In fact, even for new content I prefer to write it first and then optimize it prior to publishing. Optimizing as I go tends to interrupt my idea and writing flow.
If you’re using WordPress for your website, you can use a variety of plugins that will perform SEO analysis on your content and provide guidance prior to publishing. My preferred SEO tool for WordPress is SEO By Rank Math which provides a lot of value even in their free version. Rank Math is dedicated to WordPress SEO tips rather than SEO for all websites, but their tool is derived from SEO strategies that encompass all of the Internet.
Posts & Pages that are Already Performing Well
For items on your website that are already performing well with search engines, you’ll want to find related keywords to those which are already generating traffic and add them to your page.
While these posts are already getting traffic, there’s no reason they can’t get more if the page isn’t already at #1 on the SERPs. Be open to adding more content to the post to elaborate on what’s already doing well.
Posts & Pages that are not Performing Well
While it may be tempting to focus on the posts and pages that are getting traffic from search engines already, it’s even more important to ensure that you’re paying attention to those which don’t perform well. These are the opportunities to make the largest positive change in your website traffic.
Keyword research is critical for these posts. It will tell you if anyone is even searching for the content you wrote. Again, it’s possible that you may have written for a very slow topic and can’t do much, but more likely it has to do with not having the best keywords for the topic you wrote for.
For example, if you wrote an article called, “How to take care of an otter”, you might find from keyword research that only about 100 searches per month are performed for this search query. That’s not a very big pool of potential traffic to work with. However, through keyword research maybe you find that the terms, “sea otter”, “giant otter’, “river otter”, and “giant river otter” all have 10,000 to 100,000 searches per month each and they all have low competition! Adding these related keywords naturally in your article could help it show up in the search engine results.
Even if the related keyword seems too general, consider adding it to your content if you can do so naturally. The percentage of people who click through the search result to your page might be lower than something more highly targeted, but the pool is much larger.
General Content Rules for Good SEO
Finally, regardless of the page’s current standing with search engines, when updating your content keep the following things in mind to help drive traffic to your website.
Make Sure the Article is Long Enough
Search engine algorithms are designed to return the best results for a given search. In order to do that, they need to be able to have an intimate understanding of what each page on your site is about. The more data they have from a page, the more accurately they can deliver it to those searching for the information within it.
There’s no magic number of words or characters needed, but a good rule of thumb is a page or post should have at least 600 words of text. There are plenty of examples of page # search results with less, but in general more is better assuming you don’t fill your articles with trash just for the sake of making them longer.
Stay on Topic
If you’re writing a long article or blog post, it can be easy to go off-topic. Avoid this because as search engines crawl your site, they may become confused as to exactly what your article is about. If there’s something off-topic that does tie in to your article, consider that an opportunity to write a second article and then link to that new article as a separate topic. This will also help you get an additional internal link which helps with your SEO.
Use a Heading Structure That Organizes the Content
With proper use of headings, search engine crawlers have a better chance at really getting a good idea of what your post or page is about. It also helps to have headings which include some of your targeted keywords because they’re more authoritative than regular text.
Grammar and Spelling
This should go without saying, and sometimes we all miss things especially when writing longer chunks of content, but it’s incredibly important. You should be using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your writing. Your readers won’t come back if your content isn’t written professionally and clearly.
The occasional typo probably won’t hurt your search engine presence, but consistent problems across your website can add up. Search engines have gotten really good at guessing misspelled words, but why take the chance?
Use an Effective Title
The title of your post is one of the first signals search engines use to determine what the post is about. Your title should accurately describe what the page is about and include at least one primary keyword.
Many SEO professionals recommend adding a year or date to your title because that’s how people tend to search in order to get more recent and up to date results. For example, the title of this post could have been something like, “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website 2021” or “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website 2022” – though I’ve chosen not to do this because I feel it’s not a natural-sounding title and I don’t like having to go back and re-title my posts every year.
SEO professionals also recommend having a number in the title of an article as well. Studies have shown that a number in a title generates a better click-through-rate when the page does show up on the SERPs. An example title for this post could have been something like, “27 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website”.
Focus on Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is the type of content that never gets old. You write it once, and it generates consistent traffic without you having to go back and update it over and over again.
Evergreen content is the gold standard when it comes to websites were ad revenue is the primary means of income because it’s essentially set-it-and-forget-it.
Examples of evergreen content include topics like health advice and DIY projects – which is why these types of sites are popular when it comes to businesses who rely mostly on ad revenue or affiliate sales.
Make Sure Images have Alt Text
Have you ever visited a site where an image didn’t load? Usually what you get is just a broken image placeholder. When your images have alt text defined, the site will display that text if the image fails to load or is unavailable.
Alt Text is read by search engines and you can include your targeted keywords in the alt text to help search engines get more information about your post. Make sure your alt text still fits with what the image is about though!
Link Out to External Sites that are Reputable and Related
I really can’t stress enough how important it is that your site links out to quality sites. If a search engine crawler goes through your post and finds links going out to malicious websites, pornography, or gambling sites, you can forget showing up in the search results.
Even legitimate age restricted sites such as sites about alcohol or drugs may need to be avoided. Search engines do not want to be part of directing people to something which might endanger them.
My sites accept guest posts and I tell all of my guest posters what types of sites they can’t link out to. Free content is great, but not at the expense of my website and business reputation.
What Not to Do
Up to this point we’ve talked about all the ways to drive traffic to your site via SEO. So now, let’s look at the things you should be avoiding in order to not hurt your site and reputation.
Repeating the Same Keyword Over and Over
Frequently referred to as keyword stuffing, overuse of a keyword compared to the overall length of an article generally doesn’t help increase website traffic and in some cases, may be even penalized.
Search engines have gotten much smarter over the years when someone tries to trick them. There used to be a time when someone could just type the same keyword 100 times in their article and hide it from users by making the text color the same as the background color so that only search engines would see it. Those days are over and can actually result in a site being manually removed from search engine indexes.
If you do proper keyword research, there will be plenty of opportunities to get dozens or even hundreds of related keywords into your content without having to overuse one single keyword.
Again, tools like SEO by Rank Math will help guide you as to what is an acceptable number of repeated keywords based on how long your article is.
It can be tempting to try to increase the number of backlinks to your website by commenting on other blogs and leaving your site address in the comments, but there is little to zero value in this.
Most comment systems tag URLs as ‘nofollow’ which means they’re not counted towards your backlink profile and domain authority. It’s possible you could get referral traffic, but think about it honestly – when was the last time you clicked a link in a blog comment?
There are lots of great companies out there offering legitimate SEO services. But there are also bad ones that use shady techniques which may not help you at all, and may even hurt you.
Head on over to fiverr.com to find plenty of great freelancers who will make logos or other graphic arts work, write articles for you, or even build an entire website. Many of them are very good.
There are other freelancers who will directly sell backlinks with too-good-to-be-true offers such as $20 for 1500 backlinks.
I’ve actually tested some of these and discovered that the links provided were either comment spam or links on the seller’s own collection of websites. We’ve already talked about why comment spam is bad. What they do is use an automated script to comment a link to your website on thousands of blogs. Again, these links are fairly useless and generally don’t help your site.
But what about links on the seller’s own websites? Generally these sellers own thousands of websites each with a few hundred blog posts with varying topics (usually the posts are identical from site to site). When you purchase links from them, they use an automated script to add your link in a post on each website they own. It’s up for debate as to how this really affects your backlink profile but in my testing I’ve never seen a backlink profile or domain authority significantly improve after using a service like this. This is usually because the the content they offer isn’t unique and all the sites are low authority anyway.
Buying Traffic Directly
When I first started looking for ideas on driving traffic to websites, I again discovered on fiverr.com a bunch of companies that drive traffic to your website. These freelancers promised they’d send traffic directly to your site through targeted advertising. These come as another set of too-good-to-be-true offers like $20 for 2000 website traffic hits per day for 1 month.
I tested one of these services and true to the promise, my Google Analytics showed consistent traffic that was promised. The problem? None of it was real. It was all bot traffic. How do I know this? Well, the traffic came in immediately after I ordered it, it was perfectly spread out throughout the day, and every visitor hit the exact same page for the exact same amount of time. This is not the sign of real human visitors.
It’s possible that if this type of traffic is detected on your site, it could be viewed by search engines as an attempt to game the system and result in your site being blacklisted altogether.
Final Thoughts on How to Increase Traffic on Your Website
Hopefully the SEO optimization tipos in this post has been helpful and provided several methods on how to drive traffic to your website. While there are a number of strategies, always keep in mind that good content always performs better than bad content and is really the most effective way of getting SEO traffic.
If these SEO tips helped you, please let us know in the comments!
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He’s also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover bands, Liquifaction and Minority Report.
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