Organic search drives 51% of all web traffic and 40% of revenue. That is why search marketing teams continually aim to generate more search traffic. Rank on page one for a keyword in a search engine, and you’ll see organic traffic increase; rank in the top 3 positions or the featured snippet for that keyword and you’ll likely see an exponential traffic jump. Fail to rank on page one, however, and the missed opportunity to drive bottom-line revenues will be tangible.
So it’s no surprise that figuring out how to increase organic traffic is the Holy Grail of search marketing. Here are six tactics to help increase search traffic and reach your marketing goals long-term.
Related: What is SEO?
- Identify and Fix Non-Performing Content
- Find New Keyword Opportunities
- Optimize for Higher CTR
- Blog to Increase Ranking Keywords Fast
- Improve Site Architecture to Get Sitelinks
- Dominate Featured Snippets
Tactic 1: Identify and Fix Non-Performing Content
Non-performing content is content that fails to help a site achieve its marketing objectives—usually driving organic traffic or conversions or winning referrals from other sites. It’s not doing you any favors, and it may even be hurting your chances of getting search traffic.
That’s because non-performing content takes up crawl budget—how search engines decide how many pages, and which pages, of a site to crawl—which is limited. If your site has a lot of non-performing content, search engines get snarled up crawling the ineffective content and abandon the site before crawling the good stuff.
Identifying and eliminating non-performing content gives search engines enough budget to crawl the site’s most important pages and posts. This content can position better in the SERPs, winning more organic clicks long-term.
How to Find and Fix Non-Performing Content
First, identify the best-performing content on your website in terms of backlinks, traffic and ranking keywords, and conversions. Running a content audit is the best way to do this:
- Create an inventory of target keywords and their related articles that are not capturing much of the traffic for that term. One way to do this is using Alexa’s Site Keywords tool.
- Type in your site to get a list of all the keywords driving traffic to your site.
- Use the filters to exclude terms that already capture a large share of the traffic for that keyword by filtering for Share of Voice between 0 and 5.
- This will give you a list of keywords that are driving some traffic to your site. Download a spreadsheet of these keywords to identify which ones are driving traffic to which URL on your site.
- Cross-reference each URL’s performance on key organic metrics, including organic traffic, bounce rate, time on page and click-through rate (CTR).
- Assess qualitative factors such as content quality and timeliness.
- Identify SEO errors such as broken links, dead-end pages and duplicate content using Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool.
- Use our content audit template to organize the information and takeaways.
Once you’ve identified non-performing content, choose one or a combination of next steps:
- Refresh on-page SEO of high-quality but low-performing blog posts. Optimize meta tag SEO, headers and image ALTs to climb in the SERPs. You can inspect individual pages for improvements using our On-Page SEO Checker.
- Redirect traffic from low-converting pages to relevant but higher-converting ones.
- Use canonical redirects on similar pieces of content. Canonical tags will tell search engines which version to prioritize.
Conduct an audit every few months to optimize organic traffic performance and ensure your site isn’t weighed down by non-performing content.
Tactic 2: Find New Keyword Opportunities
Even the strongest keyword strategy probably has gaps in it. That’s just natural: New, relevant keywords emerge all the time, and adding new product features opens up new keyword opportunities. It takes time for content production to incorporate those opportunities into the keyword strategy.
That said, don’t just accept a gap-filled keyword strategy. Missed keyword opportunities can stymie organic traffic growth and give competitors an advantage. Identifying opportunities and building them into keyword strategy iterations will help increase both search traffic and brand visibility.
How to Find Keyword Opportunities
- Plug your site or a relevant keyword into the tool. This will pull up related keyword opportunities, which you sort to find the most popular terms.
- Filter out the terms that are beyond your site’s Competitive Power. This is an Alexa metric that tells you which terms you can realistically rank for and which you can’t. It’s based on your site’s past performance in organic search.
- Map the search intent of the keyword opportunities by actually googling them and seeing what type of content ranks best.
Tactic 3: Optimize for Higher CTR
Positioning on page one is only half the organic search traffic battle; you also have to convince searchers to click on your result rather than a competitor’s.
Optimizing for click-through rate (CTR) has a double benefit. Firstly, you’ll entice searchers away from competitor sites and onto your own, increasing your organic traffic. Secondly, you’ll send positive signals to search engines: A high CTR is one way Google prioritizes search results.
How to Improve CTR
There is no one single action that will boost CTR. Take a holistic approach with these steps:
- Identify which content on your site has a low CTR from results pages using the Google Search Console. Download it to Excel and organize by CTR. Pages with low CTR but high performance (conversion and engagement) represent the best optimization opportunities.
- Based on this priority list, make the meta titles more SEO-friendly. That may include using target keywords earlier or making the title more engaging. A good trick? Learn from successful PPC ad examples: Marketing teams invest a lot of time in optimizing PPC ads for CTR and will likely have high CTR.
- Meta descriptions are one of the most influential factors in CTR. Make sure to include a clear call to action as well as the exact keyword phrase you want to rank for. Don’t forget to match searcher intent: For example, the term “best tools for increasing organic traffic” has an informational/list intent behind it. The SEO meta description should reflect that.
The work isn’t done once you’ve optimized the factors above. Track and monitor changes in CTR for the refreshed content, and correlate improvements back to the actions you took.
Tactic 4: Blog to Increase Ranking Keywords Fast
Blogging is one of the fastest ways to increase the number of keywords—particularly non-branded keywords—your site ranks for. Blog posts allow you to position your brand as an expert in your field with top-of-funnel informational posts, and gives you an opportunity to showcase your product to people searching for related information.
But blog content will only drive organic traffic if it answers real user needs. A blogging strategy that is focused on products or services alone will fail to resonate with searchers.
How to Increase Organic Traffic By Blogging
Blogging is a time- and resource-hungry activity. It also takes longer to show results than other marketing activities like paid search ads. So it pays to spend time carefully laying the groundwork for an SEO blogging strategy to guarantee that blog content gains organic traction as soon as possible.
- If you already have lists of target keywords, separate them into two sections: informational and transactional search intent.
- If you don’t have keyword lists, it’s time to do keyword research.
- Once you have a list of target keywords, categorize them by volume, buyer persona or even pain point. This guarantees that your content stays user-centric.
- Check out what competitors have for these keywords. You can use Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix to discover which terms competitors are ranking for, then decide whether you want to go head-to-head with them.
- Create a content calendar based on the keywords you found in the previous steps.
This post breaks down how to write SEO content that ranks well.
Tactic 5: Exploit Site Architecture to Get Sitelinks
Site architecture plays a major role in how crawlers access your site and how human searchers navigate and engage with it. Crawlers won’t know which pages or posts are most important to your site if your site architecture is confusing. Users also might not find the information they need, causing them to bounce from the site. This in turn sends negative ranking signals to search engines, so your site drops in the SERPs.
Good architecture boosts organic traffic by positioning your site higher in the results and increasing the chances of having sitelinks featured in SERPs.
Sitelinks—links to subpages that appear on some results pages—give searchers more chances to click through to your page. They also take up valuable real estate on the results page, pushing competitor listings below the fold.
How to Improve Site Architecture & Get Sitelinks
Search marketers can’t guarantee sitelinks, unfortunately, because they are awarded automatically by search engines based on site architecture.
However, good site architecture can increase the chances of winning sitelinks. Good (i.e., accessible and scalable) site architecture is defined by a logical flow of URLs, moving from domain to category to subcategory.
Keeping the following principles in mind will improve site architecture:
- Large sites need to be organized into meaningful categories and subcategories. Inspect competitor sites to see what kind of categorization will work for your brand.
- Increase discoverability by implementing a shallow navigation structure, one where all pages are close to the domain page. Nielsen Norman has more on shallow vs. deep site hierarchies.
- Pay attention to internal linking structures. Crawlers need links to hop from page to page and from site to site. A lack of links means some pages may be uncrawlable. Use Alexa’s Site Audit tool to discover if you have any of these dead-end pages on your site.
- Add a sitemap. The sitemap.xml file tells crawlers which are the most important pages of your website, which are the ones you’ll want to appear in sitelinks. You can add a sitemap in your Google Search Console account.
Tactic 6: Dominate Featured Snippets
In 2016, Google introduced featured snippets. These enriched results aim to answer a searcher’s question directly in the results page, meaning that they never need to leave Google to find the information they need.
It’s possible that recent Google features like featured snippets and the knowledge graph mean fewer people are being sent to your website via search engine results. But it doesn’t have to be that way. HubSpot’s Matt Barby found that organic traffic actually increased after appearing in a featured snippet.
Smart structure and content are key to increasing organic traffic with featured snippets. You’ll also push competitor results down the rankings, gaining brand exposure.
How to Appear in Featured Snippets
Like sitelinks, featured snippets have to be won. You can’t request that search engines give you a featured snippet. You can, however, follow some steps to increase your chances of appearing in the snippet.
Google has several different types of featured snippet formats, including short paragraphs, lists and tables. With that in mind, follow these steps to increase the chances of winning a featured snippet:
- Identify keywords that produce featured snippet results and that your site is already ranking on page one for. Sites not on page one will not appear in a snippet.
- Snippet-friendly keyword phrases usually answer a what, how or why question. The content you produce must answer the question, the earlier in the post, the better.
- Structure the answer for crawlers. Reiterate the question in an H2 subheading, and answer it in the text directly below the heading with
markup, or try out an ordered or unordered list.
- Use high-quality, SEO-optimized images. Featured snippets usually show an image, so make sure crawlers find and identify your image quickly.
- Drive clicks from the snippet by formatting the content as steps. For example, the snippet below answers the question “how to do a vlookup in excel.” By formatting the answer in too many steps for the snippet to show, the content creator has increased the chances of people clicking through to the post.
Even if you don’t manage to win the featured snippet spot, these tactics will improve content performance by making it more crawlable and more shareable. It’s a win-win.
Long-Term Organic Search Optimization Means Long-Term Benefits
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to increasing organic traffic. Each market vertical, and each site within that vertical, has to find their own approach to organic traffic growth. Plus, don’t rest on your laurels when organic traffic starts to grow; constant iteration and refinement are ways to keep competitors at bay in the SERPs.
Experimenting with these six tactics will help you find the recipe that nourishes growth and stable traffic. Sign up for a trial of Alexa’s Advanced plan to get full access to the audit and competitive analysis tools you need to start winning with organic on a long-term basis.
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