Increasing Organic Visitors to Your Website (SEO)
Now your job turns to attracting an ever increasing number of visitors to your website, that's what!
Usually the best way to increase the number of visitors to your website and overall pageviews (traffic or hits) is to increase the number of people who are finding their way to your site organically via search engines. This means via Google.
Increasing traffic organically is almost always the best way, especially for new websites, because – in contrast to pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns – it involves no outlay of money and – in contrast to referrals and social media - it involves steps that are more within your own control.
Top Tip - If you prefer to read these materials in bite-size pieces, start here and select "Next" at the end of each post.
All the Possible Ways You Can Promote Your Site to Increase Visitors
Before jumping headlong into the important topic of how to increase your visitors organically, here’s a pretty complete list of all the things you could do to promote your site to increase pageviews. You could:
- Write and publish long, detailed new posts (1 to 4 per month) whether from scratch or from being guided by trying to siphon away traffic of some of your competitors by focusing on their most popular keywords.
- Write and publish short 350-word new posts on a more regular basis, including by linking to popular and timely articles (what I call Lifehacker-style posts).
- Enhance your existing posts by tweaking their focus keyword(s), for example, by reinforcing existing focus keywords or changing them to long tail ones – so-called "on page SEO".
- Tweak your existing popular posts to increase conversions, for example, with better CTAs and buttons or by adding new materials.
- Merge existing underperforming posts into a single mega or “skyscraper post”.
- Comment on related pages and news items elsewhere on the Internet to create "back links" to your site.
- Create pay-per-click (PPC) "guerrilla" ad campaigns to boost certain posts.
- Pursue social media marketing, such as paying Facebook to boost posts you want to announce.
- Create an email marketing "autoresponder" series of messages people can subscribe to.
- Offer a free e-book download or some other giveaway to visitors.
- Hire help or partner up for one or more of the activities above.
Determining New Posts to Add
OK, so you have executed your initial plans and your website is up and running and your initial inventory of posts is now published. What next?
Usually, you will have a long list of other potential posts you want to draft. You could just tackle that list and get them done one at a time as soon as you can.
But better that you prioritize and – as always – first pick any low hanging fruit or go for any quick wins that are available. Here are a few ways to determine what you should post next.
Siphon Traffic from Competitors (My “Cherry Picking” Technique)
Undoubtedly, when researching materials or reading items of interest, you will come across websites you consider "competitors". Not necessarily of the cut throat variety but those tending to attract the same kind of audience and visitors as your website does.
If a site is getting a relatively high percentage of its traffic from a keyword that "fits" with your site, make a note of this and add it to your Content Pipeline, your list of future posts.
This is a great way to siphon off traffic to your site from your competitors.
It can work especially well for sites that have a similar Alexa ranking as your website.
For example, I once identified a focus keyword on a site having about the same rank as mine that was attracting a double-digit percentage of its total traffic. I wrote and published a post targeting the same focus keyword while ensuring that my post was “better” compared to the post on the competing site. Sure enough, after a couple of months my new post was drawing a good chunk of visitors.
And there is little doubt that many of these visitors would have otherwise continued to land on my competitor’s site had my post not existed. His or her loss was my gain.
Of course, other sites are trying to do the exact same thing to you!
Patience and Consistency is the Key
Even with this technique at your disposal, you will need to be patient.
Like with so much of my advice, you need to keep at it. It’s very often that it takes months to see the dividends of a new post. In fact, it can take a year (or more) for a post to become a top 10 post in Google’s SERPs.
However, don’t be discouraged. If you are regularly planning, drafting and publishing content better than your competitors, you will start to see results.
I don't know how many times I’ve published a post and then been disappointed afterwards when the number of visitors was low, goal completions negligible and commissions zilch.
I used to expect some kind of big bang whenever I published a new post, but it never came.
Then, low and behold, 3 to 6 months later its starts to happen.
Note that this also means if you publish a post and wait to see the fruits of your labour before drafting your next post, you will lose out on many opportunities. So, you have to have a steady pipeline of good content because, as mentioned earlier, all your competitors are doing this to you too!
Whether you are engaging in this cherry-picking technique or merging underperforming posts for more effective mega-skyscraper posts or both, the key is to keep at it. Other would-be bloggers will be lazy and give up. In contrast, your perseverance will pay off.
For example, my top post for pageviews now is different than it was 6 months ago, and that top post is different from 6 months before that. You gotta keep churning it out!
That doesn't mean you have to post daily or even weekly but regularly. You must let Google know that you mean business and are a good source of fresh, high-quality content and information.
I would tell and point you to some of these posts, but I’m paranoid competitors will use my own techniques against me if I highlight my cash cow pages!
But the opposite is also true. One of my posts was rocking for years. So much so, that I was too afraid to touch it. Then, almost overnight, I was catapulted out of the top 5 results and then out of the top 10, commissions from this post fell equally dramatically.
An excellent analysis by HREFs found that a top ranking page takes up to a year to reach the number one spot. This means it takes time to get there.
But once you are there it also takes that long for your competitors to knock you from the perch.
Eventually they will, but if you are keeping up the pipeline approach, when some of your posts fall in the SERP rankings, others will rise.
In fact, the main sources of your commissions may look very different a year later.
Don't be complacent: keep planning, drafting and publishing using these techniques. Don't fall for fancy shortcuts.
Like so many aspects in life, consistency is king!
Other Keyword Tools
Use these tools to analyse your competition and see which of their pages (and corresponding keywords and content) are doing well. Emulate that success slowly but surely by filling any gaps on your site.
In fact, as a time-starved blogger, you can look upon the free versions of these tools as being better for you than the premium (paid) versions as the limited information they provide helps ensure you won't be investing hours upon hours analysing your competition. It’s easy with the paid versions of these tools to fall victim to “analysis paralysis”. You don’t have to overdo it.
Anyway, most of them are so expensive that you won’t be tempted to buy the full, premium versions.
You have already done your competitor analysis, so plug those sites into these tools and see what their leading pages and keywords are to influence your own drafting and your planned pipeline of posts.
Your competitors’ winning keywords will give you good inspiration for additional posts on your site and help you add some SEO juice to your website.
Be Guided Especially by Google Search Console
Another valuable source of information to help guide your writing and publishing efforts is Google Search Console (GSC, for short).
Using GSC you can see what actual keyword searches done in Google brought visitors to your site.
Adjusting your pages and website based on this data can help you attract more visitors.
Google Search Console presents its data in 4 main categories:
- Impressions are the number of times your website’s pages were displayed in Google Search results.
- Clicks are the number of times those displayed pages were actually clicked.
- CTR (short for click-through rate) is simply the ration of Clicks ÷ Impressions.
- Finally, Position is the rank of your page in the displayed result. So, a position of 1 means your page had the top spot in Google’s search results.
Looking at the Data with a Focus on the Keywords Searched
Once your site has been operating a few months, check Google Search Console > Search Traffic > Search Analytics. Choose a 90-day period (or longer) and select Queries as the main view and ensure Impressions, CTR and Position are checked.
Select the Impressions column to sort by the most impressions.
Pat yourself on the back for the Queries with good scores for Clicks, CTR and Position.
Then carefully look for Queries with high Impressions but low Clicks and CTR. These represent golden opportunities.
These are keyword searches related to your site but for which you are not ranking that high.
Plan new posts around these keywords or plan to add these keywords to existing posts, especially those that may be ranking just outside the top 3, 5 or 10 positions in Google’s search engine results pages.
It is even more valuable to do this analysis on a per page basis. Here’s how.
Looking at the Data with a Focus on the Pages Visited
Go to Search Analytics and choose Queries again. BUT also select under Pages, Filter pages and enter your top pages one by one. GSC will give you a list of every keyword searched which resulted in an impression for that page!
Select all the available options (including a date comparison for the maximum data). Download the file (to Google Sheets for example) and then dig away at the data looking for opportunities, including posts with relatively high Impressions but disappointingly low CTR.
This data gives you incredibly rich hints about which additional keywords to use for new posts (keywords with high impressions but low Clicks/CTR) or to use or add in existing posts by, for example, incorporating these keywords as H2 or H3 headings.
Best of all, creating new content around these keywords will bring new traffic and help boost your existing content.
This takes a lot of guesswork out of what new content to pursue in your pipeline.
Between these GSC techniques and my earlier cherry-picking technique, you should have a robust and soundly researched pipeline of future posts.
These keywords can also be used to provide rich hints for pay-per-click (PPC) ads. For example, if there are some keywords that are a bit too difficult to easily incorporate into the content of posts, you could always try to acquire those visitors with Google AdWords for that keyword and use your post as the landing page for that ad.
I’ve often thought about downloading all the data into a spreadsheet and then adding a column with a homemade formula for determining which keywords have the best potential. The formula I envisage would consider keywords with high impressions, but disappointing Clicks/CTR/Position. This would help prioritize our pipeline.
If you have any ideas or thoughts about this, please comment below.
Capitalize on Sites That Go Offline
Another easy technique that works well and represents an excellent return on your invested time is to publish "XYZ Alternatives" or “Sites Like XYZ” posts.
Whenever a website related to my topic goes offline for good, I quickly cobble together an XYZ Alternatives or Sites Like XYZ post with a related call to action.
Goal conversions and commissions are nothing special but for the often 30 minutes or less such a post takes to draft and publish, they are well worth it. I have posts ranked #1 in Google using this technique.
If you use a plugin like the free Broken Link Checker, it will quickly bring to your attention any external links that break. This is usually the way I become aware of a site going offline.
If you subscribe to newsletters and/or keep an eye on blogs on your topic, you will also come across these opportunities.
One of the keys is to be quick before your competitors do the same! And even if a competitor beats you to it, just make sure your post is “better” than theirs.
Turnaround Those Underperforming Posts by Improving or Merging Them (Another “Low Hanging Fruit” Technique)
It's easier to double conversions than to double traffic
One lesson that took me a long time to learn was to update existing posts.
For a long while, I was 100% focused on pumping out as many new posts as fast as possible. Some did well, but most languished and attracted few visitors, generated few conversions and earned no commissions.
Then I realized I could squeeze more traffic, goals and commissions by concentrating on some of my existing but underperforming posts rather than by only churning out yet more underperforming posts.
Of course, you can only pursue this technique once you have a critical mass of content.
My site was pushing 300 posts with only a handful generating the bulk of my commissions, so it made sense that I should turn to my existing “stock” of content and see what could be done better.
That’s why I sometimes call this technique “low hanging fruit”.
In most cases, the hard work is already done and it is a matter of tweaking or combining content you’ve already created and invested effort to generate.
Remember, It’s Goal Conversions that Count, not Visitor Traffic or Pageviews
It's easier to double conversions than to double traffic so focus on better goal conversion rates rather than trying to drive more and more traffic. As a bonus, producing better content which improves your conversions will usually also improve your overall (quality) traffic too.
For posts ranking high in SERPs, check and double-check that you have well-placed CTAs.
I experienced good results when I added CTAs closer to the start of high-ranking posts with lots of traffic.
For example, one of my posts was attracting lots of pageviews and average time on page, but it generated little in commissions. Taking a hard look at the post, I realized there was no decent call to action until a visitor scrolled down 4 or 5 screens! This was a golden opportunity waiting to be capitalized on.
In such cases, add callouts like ‘Top Tips’ or ‘Quick Answer’ summaries or a table with some recommendations. These can work well and not hurt traffic or engagement, if they don't scream out sell sell sell.
And remember to make sure the links in these elements open as a new tab in the visitors' browser.
Posts That Are Not Dead Yet
You should also aim to review and boost posts with SERP rankings that are just out of the top 10 positions (or 5 or 3).
Identify these posts in Google Search Console (see Be Guided Especially by Google Search Console) and give them a boost.
Take a hard second look at the content and add related keywords, authoritative external links or engaging images.
Prune Your Site Every So Often to Keep It Fresh
Like an unwieldy bush in your yard, your website needs regular trimming too.
Check posts in Google Analytics that have high bounce rates or low visit time and fix them up.
Don't be tempted to delete these posts as they don't really do any harm. Plus, sometimes they can be turned around and transformed into success stories with a little more attention from you.
And it's not just the content that needs tweaking to improve visitor engagement. Your site’s navigation, internal cross-referencing and related recommendations also need occasional tweaking.
Tweaking Your Top 10 Posts
Periodically (every 6 months at a minimum or better yet every second month) renew your top 10 pages.
Print them out and scrutinize them with fresh eyes. Look for ways to improve them and to increase conversions.
Sometimes this means adding new information, updating links (both internal and external) or tweaking calls to action.
When updating content, you may wish to update the post’s published date, as this shows up in Google’s search engine results, so it looks like a fresh and up-to-date post (so-called evergreening).
Sometimes this alone can boost visits and conversions because the SERPs will display the date and people are usually more likely to click on a search result with a more recent date than an older one, all other things being equal (especially if the older post is more than a year older. For some topics, articles need to appear even more up-to-date).
As part of your wider tweaking efforts, you can also add links to some recently trending articles on the topic or spruce up your CTA buttons. All these kinds of actions can help.
As always, use the data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics to inform your efforts. In particular, check any competitor posts that may be sneaking up on your posts’ rankings.
Adjusting a Post’s Focus Keyword
This is a bit of a nuclear option for posts that chronically underperform, cannot be merged and for which other tweaking efforts have failed.
In Google Search Console, isolate a post and check the keyword search data of visitors to that post.
Download the list and open it.
Then, in Google AdWords Keyword Planner, paste all the keywords from the Queries column.
When the search volume data is displayed, also download that report and open it.
Now sort both spreadsheets by the Queries/Keyword column. Insert enough columns so you can copy-paste the data you want from one spreadsheet to the other. If you have correctly sorted them, all the rows should be in the same order.
This takes about 5 minutes. Now you can compare actual visitor stats to search volume data which is great information in terms of what you can tweak on a page to bring more visitors.
For example, one of my posts that was not doing well, so I gathered the data as above. It became clear right away that I would be much better off changing the focus keyword of the post to one that had a higher search volume for about the same level of competition and was anyway bringing more visitors to my page.
By aligning the content of my post with the new focus keyword, the post performed much better and didn't take much in the way of tweaking. Sometimes the focus keyword tweaking process can be a mere “find and replace”.
Easy and effective! That’s the ideal combination for a time-starved blogger.
Top Tip - Google Search Console revealed a few Queries that were generating plenty of clicks on my website. But in Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool these same search terms were shown as having zero average monthly search volume! It just goes to show you that the more sources of data you check, the better. Can anyone explain this discrepancy (if so, please Comment below)?
Audit Your Existing Posts with Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a freemium software app that analyses websites at a very detailed level. It can be an effective way to find problems and opportunities on your website.
Download Screaming Frog (free for checking 500 URLs of less), run it against your website and then compare the results against the checklist below:
- Titles need to be 40-65 characters and contain the post’s focus keyword. Titles need to be different than the H1.
- H1's need to be less than 8 words, need to contain the post’s focus keyword, need to be different than the title. There should always be an H1 but only 1.
- URL should contain the keyword, should be less than 5 words and should be less than 72 characters in length.
- H2's should contain synonyms or variations of the focus keyword.
- The meta descriptions need to be filled in, need to contain the focus keyword, and need to use as many of the 156 characters available, but not more.
- The meta keywords should be empty as Google doesn't use them. If anything, all they do is serve to tell the competition what keywords you're targeting!
- The image alt tags should contain the focus keyword, but each image alt tag should be unique.
- Screaming Frog and other tools such as Yoast SEO will calculate the keyword density of your posts which measure how frequently the focus keyword is used as a percentage of a post’s total text. Keyword density in copy is becoming less important and a density of 0.5 to 1.0% is fine; 1 to 4% is no longer necessary.
Don’t let tip #1 confuse you: titles and H1 are often thought to be the same but they are not. The title is what appears in search engine results and the title bar of web browser tabs whereas H1 headers appear at the very start of the post’s body text.
Regarding tip #7 and image tags: the image alt tag is to help visually impaired people navigate a web page whereas the image description tag is the “tool tip” displayed when the mouse cursor is hovered over the image.
Check Which Posts Are Popular with Foreigners
Even though your website is in English, you may be attracting visitors from non-English speaking countries.
Apart from these visitors potentially being expats, they could also be using Google Translate to read your content. You can spot these visitors by the URL tracked in Google Analytics including the language into which visitors are translating your content.
To figure out which languages your posts are being translated into, you can find Google’s translate language codes listed here:
In Goggle Analytics’ All Pages, use advanced search to see which pages are being translated into other languages (see screenshot).
This can give you excellent clues as to which pages you can consider getting translated.
For example, I had a post on the topic of using a VPN in China that underperformed in the English-language but that rocked when translated into Chinese.
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
We know you're time-starved and promise not to bug you too often. 🙂 Of course, we respect your privacy and won't share your email address.
Last modified: July 14, 2018