How to Increase Website Traffic - The Beginner's Guide to On-site SEO
Are you familiar with on-site SEO? If not, then you're missing a great opportunity to see your website score a top ranking search position and to expose your content to millions of viewers.
This beginner's guide to on-site SEO will provide you with the comprehensive steps you need to follow to understand SEO and optimise your content accordingly.
Ready? Let's start with the basics!
What is SEO?
According to Wikipedia, Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) is the process of influencing the online visibility of a website or a webpage in a web search engine's organic results. As a rule, the more frequently a website appears in a search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users.
In other words, SEO is a method to boost your the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through better search engine results. Search engines have two major "responsibilities": crawling your website and providing the most relevant answers to users' questions.
There are millions of sources on the web, including documents, pages, videos and images. In order to organise these sources in a manageable format, search engine send their crawls or "spiders" to reach and scan millions of interconnected sources. Spiders can easily navigate through those sources via connecting links.
Think of a website as an "island in the middle of the ocean". Without proper roads, it would be impossible to navigate around and explore the island. Now imagine that website "links" are those "island's roads" -- the spiders use them to travel around your island, and even to hop over to neighboring islands. In this case, the neighboring islands, are similar websites that have backlinked to you or vice versa, and help search engines understand the relevance of your site in its given niche. Moral of the story? Without links, spiders won't understand, the so-called ‘big picture’ of your website.
After your website has been thoroughly crawled, search engines provide answers to the users' queries based on your content. Search engines are basically answer machines. They find the best available results to your queries based on the popularity and relevance of the content at hand.
Search engines function on the concept that the more popular a page or a website is, the more important the information will be for its customers.
Why is SEO so important?
SEO = Visibility
Based on recent statistics, 93% of traffic comes from a search engine and what's more search engines bring 300% more traffic to websites than social media does!
Here you'll find a few reasons to convince you to start optimising your website and content:
- People trust search engines. If your website or blog is top-ranked for a certain topic, then there is a higher probability for users to come across your website, read your article and even purchase your product.
- If your website is properly optimised, it will enhance your search engine visibility and credibility. Nowadays, everything can be properly tracked by Google Analytics. Using Google Analytics' data, you will be able to identify and analyse key metrics and information about your visitors. Consequently, you have a great opportunity to understand what your niche is, capture the needs and behaviors of the potential customer and implement actions to meet those needs.
- SEO is good for the social promotion of your website or content. If your website is ranked high on Google, then more people will be willing to spread the word about you on social media platforms.
- By writing a quality content, you encourage others to link to it. What's more, quality content makes you an expert.
- Also, it is very important to realize that you are not playing alone. In the global arena, there are plenty of challenges on which your competitors can fight and win. Do not lose ground to a competitor by ignoring such a valuable tool as SEO.
The Fundamentals of On-site SEO
Step 1: Do your keyword research
Before you even begin to create content, take time to do keyword research. There are myriad ways that you will benefit from this in the short and long run.
First of all, you don't need to invent kew keywords! You can find and focus on popular, searched ones. Play safe at the beginning and write on topics that people are already searching for information about. Of course, if you have already identified your buyer personas, you'll already be familiar with what topics they are interested in.
If you're stuck, Google it! You'll find related keywords on the related search terms at the button of Google's search results. By simply typing a keyword, you can get more suggestions related to your original input.
Long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are longer and more specific search queries input by visitors who know what exactly they're looking for. If you understand your niche's needs, selecting and optimising long tail keywords is a good strategy.
You won't reach massive audience, but you will attract website visitors who have a precise need and are more likely to be ready to purchase your product or service.
Short tail keywords
Optimising for short tail keywords will have the opposite effect from the long tail counterparts.
Do you want to reach a massive number of people? Do you want to see heavy traffic to your website?
If the answer is yes to these questions, optimising for short tail keywords is the best strategy for you.
Nota bene: these can be very expensive and hard to rank for.
If you want to generate traffic to your blog or website through search engines, keyword research is the best practice to follow before you start writing!
But, the primary goal of a keyword search is to look for your "major keyword".
It makes sense, doesn't it?
Once you find your focus keyword then you have to include it in the first position of your title. As I explained earlier, this will attract more SERPs.
Placing your main keyword on the title is crucial but you have to continue...
If you want to create SEO content, then your main keyword has to be added to the first and last paragraph of your article. Brownie points if you mention your main keyword within the first 100 words of your article.
Also, place your main keyword on your first heading <H1>. For subheaders, like, <H2>, <H3> etc, it is better to include relevant topics and avoid keyword stuffing. By discussing relevant topics, you enhance your topical authority.
Step 2: Build your topical authority
By establishing your topical authority on a given topic, you're working to be considered an expert on all aspects of a specific niche.
With this in mind, don't target just one keyword. Research all keywords that are related to your field of expertise. This strategy will allow you to target various communities that are interested in learning about the same topic.
Step 3: Build your links
Search engines use links to navigate across your content, to understand how pages are linked and to evaluate your website based on the relevance and the quality of your links.
Every website has both internal and external links. Internal links help to connect pages and posts in your own website and external links connect your page with other websites. A strong backlink strategy can give a website with solid SEO a strong leg up in SERPs.
For this reason, be mindful of creating an extensive internal and external linking strategy to enhance your SEO even more.
Internal links are very useful for building your site architecture. From an SEO perspective, good use of internal links will means your website will gain additional visibility and rank higher on search engines. Links help spiders "crawl" through your page to find more internal links. You should include 2 or 3 internal links in your content but don't forget that these should ultimately be relevant links for users and not just 'links for links' sake'.
From a user's perspective, internal links are considered an additional asset which offers validity and encouragement to read and learn more. By clicking on relevant topics, users will gain a deeper knowledge on a specific topic, helping them convert to a lead or potential customer.
Also, remember that users can be very instrumental in spreanding the word about your content or website. So, check and maintain the quality of your internal links on a regular basis.
External links are as important as internal links. The quality of external links offers your website credibility and reliability. The higher the quality of your external links you have, the higher it will rant on the domain authority scale you will be.
It is very important to create valuable content and build trust in your community. An external link is more valuable if it links to a popular or trustworthy web page.
External links are great opportunities to reach out, establish connections, make your content well known and drive free traffic to your website.
If you want to evaluable the quality of a website in terms of domain power and page links, I recommend installing the MozBar (Chrome extension).
Last but not least, avoid any kind of unnatural or spammy links in your article because these are penalised by Google.
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Using the correct keyword in the anchor text is the best signal for search engines to determine and analyse your content's topic.
Use hyperlinks to link both to other pages and your blog posts!
Anchor text is very important for SEO but again, we cannot emphasise enough, you shoudn't exaggarate its use in your content. Nowadays, search engines use anchor text to navigate through websites and they are programmed to penalise spam or 'over-optimisation'.
Step 3: Meta description
The meta description is a short paragraph in the HTML of a webpage that introduces the main points of your website or your article. It's basically a summary, that searchers can read at a glance.
A well-defined meta description can give your website a high click-through rate, rank it at search engines results pages and help to convert visitors into leads or potential customers.
Create a 155 characters meta description, place your main keyword in the description and introduce the main customer value proposition of your website or article. Always keep what is your buyer persona in mind and phrase your meta description as the solution to their pain points.
Step 4: Length
So, does content length matter for SEO? YES, it does...
According to Neil Patel, longer posts usually perform better on every level.
Actually, the more words you write, the better your article will rank. This happens because search engines consider longer articles to be a great source of information for users. So, usually, best-performing articles are those which contain at least 1800 words.
Step 6: Image optimisation
Images make your website more attractive and increase traffic.
As they say, "a picture is worthy a thousand words".
Image optimisation enhances your website's user experience, speeds up your page load time and boosts your content ranking.
Make your image valuable for your readers. Content should be fully associated with your image as it will help your audience understand the topic faster and make them read your article with a sense of joy of understanding, instead of trepidation in the face of interminable loading times.
Last but not least, do not forget to name your image using an ALT-tag. Since Google is not able to read images, adding a name will help it understand the relevance of your content.
In 2018, SEO still plays a huge role in a business digital marketing strategy.
As I said before, SEO = Visibility.
SEO constantly changes and new requirements can pop up at any point, so stay flexible and up-to-date.
This guide only explains the basics of SEO and how to create optimised content.
What’s your opinion on creating a good SEO strategy? Let us know in the comments!