SEO is certainly alive and well, if not even more important than ever in this saturated world of digital marketing. However, SEO has significantly changed compared to what it was a decade ago, or even 5 years ago, and the SEO tactics that are effective in 2015 might no longer be effective today.
In this guide, we will discuss 5 of the most effective SEO techniques to drive more organic traffic, and without further ado, let us begin with the first one.
1. Content Is Still Key
The most important and most effective way to drive more traffic to your site is to actually have high-quality content that can attract a lot of people.
On the other hand, the best way to get better SEO results is also to produce better content. If your content is great, just a little nudge of SEO optimizations can boost its SEO performance, and vice versa, no amount of optimizations can help a low-quality content.
While content marketing is a pretty broad subject on its own, in general here are some key areas you should focus on:
- The content must provide value for your audience, speaks directly to your ideal audience and meet their search intent
- Well-research and provide accurate information and/or powerful, persuasive opinion
- Contain no grammatical error and properly written
- Nowadays, good content should include visually-pleasing supplemental images, videos, or infographics (but not forced)
- Updated regularly with the most up-to-date information
This is obviously not an all-inclusive list, but these five points above are the most important in making sure that your content is well-researched and valuable for your audience.
2. Improve User Experience
It’s very important to understand that Google’s mission, according to their own words, is to deliver the most relevant and reliable information for their human audience.
Ever since the introduction of Rankbrain, Google’s AI-based algorithm, Google is now better at recognizing how engaged a user is with your page—and whether the user found your page valuable—, mainly by measuring three metrics:
- Click-through rate (CTR): if, for example, your site is ranked #1 for a certain keyword but the click-through rate is low, then Google will perceive that your site is not relevant to the user’s search intent, and can get demoted
- Bounce Rate: bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave your site after viewing just a single page (it can be for 1 second or 1 hour).
- Dwell Time: the total time a specific user spends on your site.
The more time a user spends on a website, Google will perceive this site as more relevant and valuable, and thus will boost its ranking and drive more organic traffic.
Here are some key areas to improve in optimizing user experience:
- Again, content quality is the most important factor in maintaining user engagement
- Make sure to maintain the readability of your content:
- Use shorter paragraphs and divide your content into subheadings properly
- Oly use longer sentences when they are absolutely necessary
- Use bullet points and numberings
- Use white spaces to maintain engagement
- Optimize your Meta description, since it will be the most important factor in driving click-through rate.
- Optimize page design and user interface
3.Effective Link Building in 2020
We all know that backlinks are the most important ranking signal in local SEO.
There are two important ways how backlinks can help SEO performance—and drive traffic—:
- First, a backlink, by function, is a source of referral traffic. More backlinks coming from sites with high traffic will translate to more traffic to your site
- A backlink is accounted for, by Google as a ‘vote of confidence’ for your site. If a site links your content, it’s basically saying that your content is trustworthy and credible. If the backlink is coming from a high-quality, relevant site, it’s like getting a recommendation letter from a famous person
It’s important, however, to understand that nowadays, the quality of the backlinks is more important than quantity. In fact, getting too many backlinks at one time can get you penalized.
So, focus on getting just 3 to 5 high-quality backlinks every month, but obviously, this can be easier said than done. Here are a few tactics to generate high-quality backlinks:
- Again, your content quality is key. If your content is great, sooner or later you’ll get these backlinks. On the other hand, no amount of link-building efforts can help low-quality content.
- Build relationships with relevant websites, influencers, and press. These are your most sustainable sources of high-quality links.
- Give them reasons to link your site, for example, by publishing unique and original data (i.e. original research report), publishing visually pleasing images or infographics, etc.
4. Technical Optimizations
It’s a fairly well-known secret that technical on-site optimization is one of the key elements of any SEO strategy.
In general, there are two main ways of how technical optimizations can help your website traffic:
- Improving user experience— which as we have discussed above—, an important ranking factor. Ensuring your site visitors will not encounter any technical issues and maximize dwell time.
- Making sure Google can properly crawl and index your site.
Technical SEO optimizations can comprise many different site elements, but here are some of the most important ones:
- Switch from HTTP to HTTPS
- Improve your site’s load speed. Use PageSpeed Insights to assess and optimize your site speed.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive
- Implement structured data markup properly, whenever possible
- Find all possible crawl and indexation errors and fix the issues (i.e. optimize your robots. Txt and XLM sitemap)
5. Evaluate and Measure
It’s no secret that SEO is a long-term game. In general, we should expect to invest 6 to 18 months before we can see significant results in SEO performance (i.e. ranked on the first page of Google SERP.)
With that being said, monitoring and evaluating your SEO progress is essential, since maintaining consistency during these months is very crucial in maximizing your SEO performance.
In general, here are some of the most important metrics to evaluate:
- SERP ranking. Fairly obvious. We might not yet rank on the first page of Google SERP or the top 3 spots, but it’s important to monitor that your rankings for your target keywords are climbing steadily.
- Organic traffic. Closely related to keyword rankings. The higher you rank, the more organic traffic the page should generate.
- % of returning visitors. You should aim for at least 30% of returning visitors when your site is properly matured (for newer sites, it should be higher).
- Bounce rate and dwell time, as discussed above.
Some of the SEO tactics are still effective in generating a sustainable source of organic traffic.
However, it’s important to remember that SEO is a long-term effort, and we should invest at least 6 to 12 months before we can generate a significant amount of traffic. By consistently implementing the five actionable tips we have shared above, we can slowly but surely build a reliable source of traffic.
UPDATE JULY 2020
FatJoe have recently published a very thorough article on Google’s new Page Experience Algorithm. It’s well worth a read if you’re looking at improving your SEO for 2020.