When most people start a website, a lot of them are eager to be on the first page of Google search results and to drive millions of traffic. However, this is something that sounds like a pipe dream when you are just starting out.
But think of it this way, the top result on the search engine has a 33% chance of getting clicked.
Now, the reason why other sites rank higher than you is that they are constantly improving on their search engine optimization efforts.
Fortunately, it is never too late for you to get started.
What is SEO?
Before we begin, let’s start with the basics. What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
In a nutshell, SEO is the process of getting organic website traffic from search engines. Meaning, it is free. You are not paying any search engines to place your website on their results.
It is also considered natural because your website should rank for relevant search results.
For example, you own an online clothing store, and your products are made using sustainable means. When someone searches for an “eco-friendly clothing store online,” your e-commerce website should appear on search results.
Effective SEO is vital to getting your business in front of the eyes of your target market. Appearing on top of search engine results allows your site to receive tons of traffic and boost your site’s overall performance.
Google ranking factors
Google uses over 200 ranking factors in order to determine whether your website is relevant and not using any shady means to rank.
We are not going to list all of them here. But here seven of the most important ones that you should pay special attention on:
HTTP Vs. HTTPS
It was back in 2014 when Google recommends that sites switch to HTTPS. It was just until that time that most sites really bothered to use it.
As an incentive, Google announced that those who switched to it would receive a minor bump in rankings, providing sites that switched an edge over their competitors.
Now, if you’re looking for the difference between the two, HTPPS, without a doubt, has a major advantage.
You want your site to be as secure as possible, right? So, even if you’re not accepting particularly sensitive information from your clients and customers, you need to switch to HTPPS.
Why? Because HTPPS could end up boosting your SEO results as well. Although there are several steps involved for you to switch, your efforts will be worth it in the end.
Moreover, it’s already a standard protocol these days, so you no longer need to have doubts about whether you should switch or not. The last thing that you want to happen is for you to fall behind your competition.
The number of mobile users continues to grow and has even surpassed the number of desktop users.
So, if both your mobile and your desktop site aren’t significantly different in any way, you can still take it easy.
Google has announced that this change will not significantly impact your rankings in a major way. But since most users are now accessing their sites through their smartphones and other mobile devices, it still makes sense to make your site as mobile-friendly as possible.
After all, this can impact user experience (which is also an important factor in SEO) and will determine whether or not users would want to come to your site or switch to your competitors.
The thing is, your target audience is relying on search engines to look for certain information or specific products and services that they need. So, don’t expect them to scroll further down the search results.
This is also true for search engines such as Google.
As much as possible, search engines want to return results that are relevant and high-quality. So, in order for your e-commerce website to rank better, you should focus on creating impeccable, relevant, and engaging content for users.
After all, quality content means increased search rankings on search results, and more organic traffic coming into your site.
Site speed is known to be one of the leading SEO factors for years. Because Google wants to constantly improve one’s mobile experience, a fast loading website helps it do that.
Back in July 2018, Google announced that they’ll be focusing on mobile page speed, which is another reason why you should switch to a more mobile-friendly site.
Meaning, if your site isn’t loading as fast enough for mobile devices, your site could be potentially penalized.
Fortunately, you check with Google’s mobile testing tool to know how your site will measure up.
Social media signal
When people share your content on social media networks, that’s another clear cut sign that your site is valuable.
Although Google mentioned that social media signals aren’t a direct ranking factor, still, there’s no denying it that the top ranking sites on Google search results receive a lot of shares.
Why? Probably because of the following factors:
- These social media shares generate traffic to the site itself.
- More shares mean that the content is more likely to build on backlinks.
So, social media shares do help with your search engine rankings, even if it’s only in an indirect way.
For some time now, Google has been using artificial intelligence to rank webpages, and it calls this signal as RankBrain. Additionally, other signals can affect your search engine rankings:
- Click-through rate: The percentage of users that click through your site after it shows up on search results.
- Bounce rate: The number of users that click through your page only to quickly go back again on search results.
- Dwell time: How long users stay on your site after arriving.
So if users visit your site then bounce away, then Google will think that it isn’t relevant to their needs anymore. Now, if more and more people do this, you’ll find it harder to rank on search results.
On the other hand, if people click through your page and stay for a little while, then it’s a positive indicator for Google that the website is relevant to the user’s search.
So, make sure that your content matches the intent of the user by coming up and incorporating a more targeted keyword.
Also, try to optimize titles, descriptions, and content to earn clicks and deliver value. Doing so will boost your search engine rankings.
SEO Tips to Boost Website Traffic
Now that you some of the important factors, we have listed down eight SEO tips that you can follow to optimize your site and boost your traffic:
1. Eliminate anything that slows down your site
We couldn’t stress this enough: Your page load times are important. If your site loads fast, users will keep coming back for more. Not to mention that page load speed can affect your e-commerce fulfillment process.
Google’s algorithm will eventually notice your site’s popularity and will adjust the search engines accordingly, giving you higher rankings.
So, make sure that you take off any non-essentials that slow your site down. These include large images, flashy graphics, music players, unnecessary plug-ins, and videos.
2. Produce relevant content
None of your other efforts will matter if you create content sounding as if a robot wrote it. So, write high-quality content, have patience, and start seeing the results.
Here are some tips:
Create a readable content
A lot of people nowadays simply scan texts and not read a webpage from top to bottom.
Ensure that you provide a clear structure for every piece of content that you create. For instance, if you have a blog on WordPress, utilize headlines, subheadings, bullet points, and bold fonts in the most relevant sections of your copy.
You might also want to add an author box on your blog in case you accept guest posts.
Avoid duplicate content
Duplicate content, also known as the content that shows up for several unique URLs, isn’t welcome at all in search engines and might cause your site a massive drop in traffic.
There are times, of course, that it’s hard to avoid duplicate content, especially if you’re an e-commerce site with the same product as your competitors. But ideally, try to make it as unique as possible. Use plagiarism checkers like Copyscape in order to ensure that your content is unique and original.
3. Conduct keyword research
Now another thing that you need to do is to choose a great keyword that you can focus on.
Search for a keyword or a phrase that you want your post to show up for in search engines. And one of the easiest ways for you to conduct keyword research is by using Google Keyword Planner. It is a free tool from Google that displays an estimate search volume for a given search phrase.
For instance, you noticed that “artisan cafe Chicago” is receiving 870 monthly searches, and higher than any word combinations you’ve searched previously. You can do your research, and plan on writing content that’s related to that topic.
4. Practice on-page optimization
On-page optimization is one of the most vital SEO considerations, especially if you’re a beginner, because there are a lot of small details and elements that are overlooked.
This includes your page title, meta description, header tags, URLs, and so on. Keep in mind that although these details might be minute, it plays a significant impact on your search engine rankings.
Here are some tips:
- Your page titles should be clean, concise, and engaging. Ideally, it should be between 50-60 characters and must have your target keyword.
- Meta descriptions must include your target keyword and other relevant terms. It should be between 150-170 characters and must include a call-to-action.
- URLs should be short and descriptive. Ideally, you should remove stops words and it won’t exceed five worlds. In case you change your URL to improve your search engine ranking, you can implement redirects to communicate that a particular page moved location.
- Use H2 and H3 subheaders. This is a great way to break down your content into supporting ideas. More so now that website visitors tend to just scan blog posts than read them from top to bottom.
5. Use social media
If the visual element is a forte of your business, then you should set up an account in more visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest, wherein you can post high-quality photos.
If you’re a business that’s more service-oriented, you can use Quora to help position yourself as a thought leader or expert in your industry. Similarly, you can also consider platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as social signals coming from these sites can help improve your search engine rankings.
Use social media to build a community and interact with your fans and followers, share relevant information, and don’t spam them. The main idea of social media is to be social. So you need to interact with them and not annoy them.
6. Link building
Off-page SEO, such as getting links from other sites, plays a crucial role in improving your website’s ranking and organic traffic.
That’s because incoming links are considered as “votes of trust” and could positively affect the rankings of a website. The more authoritative and relevant the links pointing to your site, the better it’s ranking position on search results.
Now, when it comes to link building, you need to understand three things:
- Links are considered an essential aspect of SEO.
- The quality of links is more important than the quantity.
- It’s better to generate and build links naturally.
7. Configure 404 pages
At the end of the day, SEO is all about user experience, and having a proper 404 page can help you with that goal.
This page is shown whenever a user is searching for your page that doesn’t exist anymore or follows a broken link. Now, if your 404 pages aren’t configured, it could negatively impact the user experience.
Ideal 404 pages should:
- Provide the user a reason what happened to the page instead of displaying that it isn’t found anymore.
- Pick a design that is consistent with your branding or with the rest of your site.
- Provide the user with options on how to navigate on other parts of the page.
8. Mobile-friendly website
Your site’s mobile-friendliness also has a positive effect on your search engine rankings.
Because more and more people prefer to use mobile devices than desktops when accessing the internet, there’s a need to set up a mobile-friendly site. You also have to look out for the user’s experience the moment they land on your site:
- Have a responsive site that automatically fits any kind of device.
- Utilize large fonts for easy readability on the small screen.
- Place menus on your site that make it easy for your site visitors to navigate.
- Make sure that your most important content isn’t hidden by ads.
SEO might feel a little overwhelming at first. More so when search engines roll out a new algorithm update.
But following the tips we’ve mentioned in this article can help place your website on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Hopefully, with these tips and strategies in mind, you’re ready to make necessary changes in your site and optimize it for SEO.