5 SEO techniques for driving organic search traffic
If you’re pumping out lots of content online but aren’t seeing much traffic or ROI, it probably means one of two things:
1.) Your content is underwhelming (a sad truth, we know).
2.) Not enough people are finding it (also not ideal).
If you’re confident that your content is already compelling, informative, and actionable, then it sounds like you’ve hit a different roadblock that many businesses and marketers have faced: underperforming SEO (or search engine optimization).
Learning how to ensure your content is reaching its target audience online takes more than just pressing ‘publish’. Though mastering the ins and outs of SEO can be a lengthy journey (who are we kidding—it’s some people’s entire careers!), we’ve broken down the basics on how to shine the digital spotlight on the content you’ve worked so hard to create and get it organically in front of your target audience.
What is SEO and why does it matter?
First things first—you need to understand what SEO is, how it works, and how it can connect you to your ideal audience online.
Successful SEO does three things:
- Increases the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or webpage.
- Improves unpaid search ranking results on search engines such as Google.
- Improves the user experience and usability of a website.
Why is SEO so important to your marketing strategy?
Well, SEO generate free, targeted visitors to view your content online, which matters because word of mouth only goes so far. There are nearly 5 billion regular internet users in the world, and if your content isn’t visible to potential customers online, they will engage with your competitors instead.
Staggeringly, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, but 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search results. If your content is hidden too far down in the search results, there’s a pretty low chance it will be found by your target audience.
There are many ways to make your content more easily found online. But before we dive in, it’s helpful to understand the difference between the two main types of SEO.
The difference between on-site and off-site SEO
Technical or on-site SEO refers to improving the technical aspects within a website in order to allow search engine robots to crawl your site more easily and understand what your site is about. Adjustments to make a website faster, easier to crawl, and understandable for search engines are the pillars of technical optimization. How? By improving load time, link health (broken links that often lead to error pages), duplicate content, and security issues.
Off-site SEO is done by generating exposure for a webpage off-site, through the use of other channels or websites. Backlinking, which we’ll review below, is the most widely used example of off-site SEO.
6 expert ways to optimize blog and website content
We recommend going through the following practices at least once per quarter to ensure your content stays relevant and optimized.
1. Keyword research and topic building
Study your industry well, and get to know the words that your competitors use, your audience searches for and engages with, and the format that they tend to prefer (video, infographic, blog, etc).
Start by determining the pillar topics for your website, or the 4-5 main areas of expertise that your content will stem from. This will help your SEO ranking because Google identifies organized information on a website as higher-quality and more helpful to searchers. From there, you can start building your keyword list for each topic and incorporating them into your content.
Use Moz Keyword Explorer to get started with 10 free keyword inquiries per month!
2. Use your keywords, but don’t overdo it
While keywords are key and help to boost your ranking online, avoid keyword “stuffing” and instead prioritize the integrity of the article. Keyword stuffing refers to injecting keywords into your content to boost performance while neglecting the natural flow and quality sentence structure. Use a 1%-3% keyword density as a benchmark when writing content.
The keyword of the post should appear:
- In the first 100 words of the article copy (even first sentence or two if it’s a natural fit)
- In the title of the article (closer to the front of the title is better)
- In at least 1 sub-heading (H2) within the copy
3. Improve user experience
Eye-catching, attention-grabbing content is scannable. Think of a person quickly scrolling through a blog post while riding the train, or skimming their LinkedIn feed while enjoying their morning coffee. Can they easily figure out what the content is above at a quick glance? If they open a link, do ads pop up and distract from their experience? Is the content optimized for mobile use — meaning the design isn’t compromised, buttons are large enough to click, and is free of formatting issues?
Ask yourself these questions, and adjust your content accordingly. Choose a clear title, using bullet points, correct heading formats, blockquotes, and images to break up the text.
4. Rank for intent
Think about this: what does your target audience want to find out when they conduct a search? It’s important to rank your keywords for the ones that your audience is using. Research keyword synonyms and other terms that have the same intent.
- Your keyword: remote work
- Intent keywords: telecommuting, working from home, online jobs, distributed teams
Luckily, Google does some of this automatically, by using a tactic to figure out what people are intending to search for, called RankBrain. By using machine-learning mathematics (you know, sciencey stuff), the system is able to rank more accurately for intent, based on the search patterns it ‘notices’.
So while Google does some of the heavy lifting, it’s still important to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
5. Update stale content
All content, no matter how good, gets stale over time. This is a fact known to human beings as well as Google’s little robots, which is why Google ranks fresh content higher than stale content.
However, stale does not always mean old. Google has different ‘freshness’ thresholds for different topics or situations. It knows some topics are evergreen, while others require more frequent updates in order to stay relevant and helpful.
Whenever possible, update blog posts with new research every 2-3 years, check content for broken or outdated links, and modify the publish date.
6. Backlink to reputable websites
Simply, a backlink refers to when one website links to another, and they act as a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content, and you vouch for theirs.
Followed backlinks from trustworthy, popular, high-authority sites are considered the most desirable backlinks to earn, while backlinks from low-authority, potentially spammy sites are typically at the other end of the spectrum.
According to Ahrefs, The #1 ranking page in the search results gets an additional 5-15% more ‘dofollow’ backlinks from new websites each month. Another incentive to make your way to the top of those search results!
7. Above all, create exceptional content
Google uses dwell time which refers to the amount of time someone spends on a page after clicking on a Google result, to inform its ranking algorithm. The higher the dwell time, the more interesting or helpful your visitors probably think your content is.
While it’s great to optimize your content for Google, what really matters is how optimized your content is for human beings.
There’s so much more to learn about Search Engine Optimization and we share 4 more expert tips, information, and strategies in our In-Depth Guide To SEO + Content Optimization. For example, did you know that your YouTube channel plays a role in your organic ranking?