“Clients sign up for SEO and Content Marketing services, but it is web traffic that they are interested in.”
Digital Marketing agencies need to keep this goal in mind and adjust their strategies to it. The quote is a mantra we’ve come up with, based on years of experience, and reminding ourselves of it with every new client call is a mindful practice that helps keep our efforts focused and effective.
It’s simply not new blog posts, social media shares, or even keyword rankings (though these might be tempting) that clients are really interested in. Any website, to be successful, is in need of well-targeted web traffic. That’s how you get leads, conversions, and well, business growth.
Most likely, your own company falls into one of these major categories:
- Case 1: You’re just launching your product and no one knows your brand yet (we love working with startups and we recently released an e-book with client acquisition strategies for them — feel free to check it out!)
- Case 2: You might be relying solely on paid advertising, and seeing no increase in traffic if/when you stop your campaigns
- Case 3: You’re an established company, which has been experiencing a steady drop in traffic in the last few months/years
Catching onto developments in the search-engine world, many companies that come to us are concerned that a Google Penalty or Google Algorithmic update might be what’s causing their traffic decrease. Although sometimes this is indeed the case, and a clean up of their link profile is enough to get them back on track, in most of the cases, link removal is not enough.
While making sure your site isn’t doing anything wrong is a good start, it’s also really important that you’re doing things right and on the offense.
That means creating and working with a good online marketing strategy to outperform your organic competitors. How do you get started? It’s simple, and we’ve reviewed the entire process from A to Z with this quick guide on how to work on increasing your web traffic:
Step 1: SEO Audit & How It Helps Website Traffic
There are many aspects of a website and full website SEO audit will review all of them. The benefits here are two-fold: you both discover errors and issues that need to be fixed, and find opportunities to improve your site further so it’s running at its full potential.
Technical SEO Audit
First, start with an identification of the technical on-site issues. This is like the ground level of a building — if your site is poorly structured and prevents the Google bots from crawling your major pages, all further investment in content would be a waste. Fixing the technical SEO ground of a website may lead to direct traffic increase (if there were major issues, which are now solved) or stabilize the website and make sure further efforts will lead to visible results. Here’s a list of the most common SEO audit issues and how to fix them.
In order to have a well-optimized website, the most important thing is to know which keywords which will attract the right audience to your site:
- Make a list of keywords clients may use to search for your services (using Google AdWords, Webmaster tools, and plain old search)
- Research your competitors and see which keywords they use (you can use SEMRush for checking your competitors’ organic and paid keywords)
- Also, you can check forums or other online communities, like Quora.com, to mine reviews/discussions and see how people describe the issues your services are solving
Once you have a good list of keywords, you can check their search volume (how many people are searching for this keyword every month) with Google Keyword Planner and see if it is worth trying to rank for them.
If you find new keywords, which describe your business well, and which you haven’t been used much on your site, you may consider adding new web pages to target these new keyword themes and incorporating them into your website structure.
Another option is rewriting and optimizing the pages you already have (including the homepage).
The next step to achieving website success is to find out who you’re competing with. Investigating your organic search competitors is a step on the ladder to higher traffic you can’t skip out on.
This type of research will reveal opportunities for new content, promotional strategies, and link development opportunities.
See what your competitors are excelling at — can you do it even better and steal attention (in terms of social shares, backlinks, or organic traffic)? If yes, great. If not, no worries — you can focus on opportunities they’ve missed and blindside them.
After the Penguin update, a review of your backlink profile is a good thing to have. Whether you intentionally created bad backlinks, or are a victim, these can get your de-ranked from Google searches so this should be high on your priority list.
It’s easy to identify bad links and figure out if you need a link audit of your site (check out the link to find out how).
Step 2: Content Marketing Strategy to Drive Organic Traffic
Once you fix on-site issues, come up with keyword ideas, research your competitors and clean up your link profile, you can be sure your website is built on a stable foundation, and you’re ready to invest more in attracting organic traffic.
Content sure is king, and more and more companies are investing wildly in it. It’s no longer a question of “if” your company will use it, but simply “when” you’ll get on board.
A great Content Marketing (CM) Strategy should be based on Buyer Persona Research and Topic Modeling. The best piece of content is usually serving two dual goals: (1) get your buyer persona’s attention (for example, in social media) and (2) drive in organic traffic from the keyword theme you’re targeting. This is where SEO & CM work together to boost your traffic both immediately through outreach of the content and long-term, by helping potential customers find your organically.
Buyer Persona Research
Researching Buyer Personas is a very creative and rewarding task. First, try to describe your buyers with your own words. Then, check out your Social Media followers — who are they? Do they fit in any set demographics? Do they have interests in common? Then, go to Amazon to mine reviews and to forums to mine discussions to see how real buyers describe their pain points. It’s a good idea to even interview 3–5 of your buyers directly and ask them what they think about your service.
Identifying buyers’ pain points is the skeleton of a successful Content Marketing Strategy.
Once you identify your major buyer personas and their pain points, you have to align your content with their buying cycle.
- Are they not even aware of the issue yet? — Find them in Social Media and tell them about it.
- Are they already searching for solutions? — For each pain point, you should have a solution.
- Are they already comparing providers and features? — Tell them about your USPs (unique selling propositions).
Knowing your buyers isn’t enough, though. Having great content which will help you achieve your major goal of acquiring organic traffic also requires that you choose an appropriate keyword theme to target. This could be something like “best shoes for the winter” or a comparison of the “top brands for high heeled red boots.”
Check keyword search volumes, and check out the competition in SERPs.
If the search volume is high, the competition will most likely be high, as well. But with a little bit (or not so little :)) research and brainstorming, you’ll be able to come up with niche keywords which have a decent number of searches and good potential for ranking.
You can also use the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool to see if you have any chance at ranking for a precise keyword, or just use the following checklist.
Sites that appear in search results can be outranked if they:
- have lower domain/page authority
- don’t cover all the subtopics you’ve come up with
- don’t use good images
- didn’t cover the topic with a video
Based on the findings, you can decide whether to go after a keyword theme or leave it for later and target it with a video, for example.
Once you choose an article topic, you need to start researching what sub-themes to cover. Check out Rand Fishkin’s Topic Modeling video and Cyrus Shepard’s post on Semantic Keyword Targeting to get a better idea of the process.
In short, you need to use other people’s content, related searches, and Google’s instant suggest to make a list of subtopics to include in your piece, so you exhaust the topic to the fullest.
Google rewards comprehensive quality content, and that’s what you’re going for here.
And let’s not forget the visuals — an image or a graph can make a post go viral, so make sure you create eye-catching and relevant custom images for every post you release.
Here is a very interesting post by Buffer on how to promote your article once you’ve created it.
More Reads on SEO and Content Marketing:
- Content Marketing for E-commerce [B2B and B2C Case Studies]
- Helping Canadian Startup Zillidy Achieve Lift-off
- Using Content Marketing to Drive Student Applications
- Recovery from Google Penalty – JW Surety Bonds Case Study
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