What is SEO and Why is it Important?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your website’s ranking in search engine results.
This is very different from paid search advertising, which is a short-term solution similar to a fast-pass at Disney World, whereas SEO is a long-term strategy that will lead to long-lasting results.
While your ads will only appear in as many searches as your funds allow, SEO will improve the overall visibility of your site, meaning that you have the opportunity to appear in as many searches as there are… well, searches.
Performing a Technical Audit of Your Website
If you’re not sure how well optimized your site is, then it’s always a good idea to do an audit. One of the best ways to do this is to audit your site through Google Search Console (or GSC for short).
Google Search Console will scan (or crawl) the site and provide recommendations for optimizing your site’s content for maximum visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Pro-Tip: if you don’t want a page to be crawled because you want to minimize the number of requests to your site, you may want to read up on how to use robots.txt files.
These won’t hide a page, but they will prevent a URL from being crawled. If other pages link to it, it can appear on a SERP. To hide a page completely, it must be non-indexed.
GSC will also highlight areas where metatags can or should be added. Metadata helps Google better understand the context of content, links or images. These metatags, such as alt-text descriptions for images, are also helpful for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers.
Structured data – or schema code – provides similar instructions for search engines to help them better understand your site and its content. One of the main goals of SEO is to ensure that Google understands your website as best as possible and that it appears in the right searches.
Other factors that GSC will look for include mobile-friendliness since more and more people are using their smartphones to access the internet, quite often through Google.
One thing to keep in mind is that if two pages have overlapping content or similar URLs, Google will have to decide which one it shows. This is called canonicalization.
Now that you understand the search engine optimization process and why it’s valuable to marketers, we’ve got some tips to help you leverage SEO to boost website traffic.
Below are six SEO techniques to improve your website’s organic search traffic.
1. Keyword Research and Targeting
Make sure to plan out the keywords that you are going after carefully. You want to ensure that the wording on your site and the anchor text on your backlinks are phrased in a way that actual users would type.
Various tools can be used for keyword research, such as Google keyword planner, Google Search Trends, and third-party tools like Ahrefs.
You can also use Google Search Console and Analytics to look into what your users engage with the most on your site and optimize your keywords based on these opportunities.
Make sure to include long-tail keywords since they will have higher intent, a higher conversion rate, and lower competition than broad keywords.
2. Focus on User Experience
Good user experience will improve not only conversion rates but also SEO.
Google considers various accessibility factors, as well as navigation and site speed. While benchmarks change over time, ensuring your site loads within three seconds is a good idea. Anything over this time and your search ranking will take a hit.
Moreover, users will quickly lose patience with a slow-loading page and will likely leave in search of faster performance.
An increased bounce rate is another factor that will negatively affect your ranking on a SERP, further enforcing the importance of optimizing your site’s speed.
3. Create Quality Content with a Solid Structure
Make sure that your content answers questions that your users may have so that you provide value to them, which will build their confidence in you and will help usher them towards becoming a customer or client.
Within this, be sure to use proper subheadings, infographics, page titles, and descriptions. Optimizing the layout and structure of your content improves its readability. Most users don’t read a webpage the first time around; they scan it.
Ensuring your content is easily scannable will keep users on the page instead of just exiting when they see a big wall of text.
If their initial scan shows the information on the page is valuable, they will likely go back and read it more closely.
4. Optimize Content Structure for SERPS
While your content must be legible to the site’s actual users, it should also be easily digestible by search engines. This means using the proper headings (h1, h2, h3, etc.), metadata, and HTML attributes such as title and alt, especially for images.’
Another important yet often overlooked aspect of SEO is interlinking content from one page or site to another. The internet as we know it began when the pages, which were stored online, became connected by hyperlinks.
This is fundamental to SEO as well. Use strong anchor text to link relevant pages within your site (internal links) as well as important pages on other sites (external links).
Similarly, allowing other websites to link to your content or web pages is incredibly valuable for improving your search ranking.
Commonly referred to as “backlinks,” these links benefit your SEO by serving as a vote of confidence from that site to yours.
5. Use Quality Backlinks
Not all sites are created equal. Regarding backlinks, you want to ensure that the sites that link to yours are reputable. Ahrefs and other platforms provide tools to assess the quality of a site’s backlinks using metrics such as “domain rating.”
You also want to make sure that the links are categorized as “do-follow” and that the pages are indexed.
Do-follow links (as opposed to no-follow links) have the other site’s formal seal of approval. By utilizing do-follow links, the other website is, in essence, vouching for you and your website’s quality.
No-follow links do not carry the same weight.
You also want to make sure that the page linking to you is indexed so that Google can crawl it and make the necessary association between your site and theirs.
6. Competitive Analysis
Perhaps the most important factor in SEO is your competitors.
Install plugins such as SEO Meta to audit your competitors’ sites, or use Ahrefs or other SEO platforms to get a more in-depth look at what they are doing.
Discovering the keywords your competition is ranking for will allow you to optimize your website for those same keywords to gain an advantage over them.
Conducting a competitive analysis is especially helpful when you’re just beginning to optimize your website for search engines, as it can provide valuable insights into where you should be focusing your strategy.
Analyze Your SEO Metrics and Keep Optimizing
As discussed, there’s a variety of tools that can help you audit and optimize your site. However, if you want to stand out from your competitors, you can also analyze the technographic data, and gather more insights into what tools other companies use the most.
Google Search Console will show you how many impressions you get within a specific timeframe, what the searches were for, and what pages they directed to.
You can also use this to verify whether or not your site is indexed or if any of the links are broken.
You can use this in conjunction with Analytics to see what pages your users navigate to on their own compared to what pages they enter through on Google.
If a popular page is not appearing in the search results, you may need to add more content to the page or check to ensure that it is indexed.
Frequently Asked Questions about SEO Techniques to Double your Traffic
Why are keywords relevant to SEO?
A keyword is a word entered by a search engine’s users to find what they are looking for. If you want to be seen by the right people, make sure you use the right keywords!
What are long-tail keywords?
Longtail keywords are strings of multiple words, such as “top men’s clothing stores in Toronto”
Who Needs SEO?
Anyone and everyone looking to grow their business online!