I’ll cut to the chase — increasing traffic can be challenging. I will let you in on a few tips you can use to increase organic traffic based on where the search world is heading — simple, user-focused changes that will help you dominate the SERPs.
Let’s get down to it.
Create Content to Match Search Intent
With the rise of machine learning, search engines will continue to improve their ability to understand intent and deliver pages that suit a user’s needs. Which means marketers need to figure out what content users are actually looking for and the language they’re using (not just the content you think they’re looking for).
To increase organic search traffic, focus on the user. Which keywords do they use in each stage of the buyer’s journey? What language do they use to describe what you sell? Keyword research should be used to understand our customers’ intent when searching for solutions, and thus it starts with the customer — using their words, not ones suggested by Google. That should always be Step 2.
As search engines get smarter, the true way to “cheat” the system will be to focus on the user. It’s that simple.
Make Your Mobile Experience Rock-Solid Technically
To really make moves in the rankings, you need a mobile experience that’s more than simply a watered-down version of the desktop site. But first, let’s talk about the technical part of it — how your site is built.
Search engines and users alike want pages to load quickly, especially on mobile. Which means you need to find ways to make your site faster.
The good news is that Google actually provides a lot of good resources around the subject, and you can even test your site with their mobile site speed test. A few ways to get started? Clean up code, leverage caching, reduce image sizes and keep redirects to a minimum.
While many people think site speed is priority No. 1, there are plenty of other technical fixes that should also be addressed. For example, blocking CSS/JS/images on your pages makes it harder for Googlebots to understand your site. Cut that out. Other technical fixes to boost your search rankings include things like using HTML5 instead of Flash and eliminating any intrusive interstitials and pop-ups on mobile devices.
Optimize Your Mobile Experience
The flip side to the technical aspect of mobile deals with the humans using your site, and what we SEOs like to call “tailored fit.” Essentially, does your content meet user needs and engagement, no matter which device they use?
The first step to creating a better mobile experience — and therefore ranking better in SERPs—is to do some research. What percentage of your traffic is coming from mobile? Where do mobile users go on your site? Don’t force your desktop experience to fit mobile, tailor your mobile experience to fit your users instead.
One simple example could be including your phone number prominently on your mobile site. You know the user has a phone in hand. So it’s more likely that a mobile user will want your phone number, and far more likely that the user will engage on that level. Another consideration is menu placement and type. Ensure your menu is easy to click and features areas of the site that mobile users frequently visit. We know engagement is a search factor, so improving a user’s mobile experience will only help you rank, moving forward.
Check Your Business Listings
It’s no secret that Google has ramped-up local and personalized search. Confirmed by an algorithm update in 2016, and following their push for marketers to improve mobile experience, search engines are looking to pull local businesses and rich snippets into search queries.
This means that you need to have your business accurately listed within Google. Your business information (popular times, price range, hours, locations, etc.) needs to be consistent across sources.
Because Google doesn’t want to show unreliable information to users, it’s supplementing crawl data with Local Guides. Google takes user data about local businesses and compares it to the information it currently has, and rewards businesses that have accurate information.
You need to have your business listed, and it has to be accurate and up-to-date. Google will not trust your business if what is in Google My Business doesn’t match the information it’s mining from places like Local Guides communities.
Google is always looking to improve the user’s experience. If someone looks up a question Google can answer without that person actually clicking on a link to find the information, or if Google can highlight additional information that users might find useful, they’re going to do it.
This means marketers should be using Schema. As defined by Moz, “Schema is a specific vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to your HTML to improve the way your page is represented in SERPs.” You can use Schema (which has explicitly stated its purpose is “to give your content more prominence in search results and to surface it in new experiences like voice answers, maps and confirmation cards”) and rich snippets to help improve clickthroughs from SERPs.
You’re helping Google find information, which helps users find information, and Google thus helps you rank better where appropriate. You can use the Structured Data Testing Tool and Structured Data Markup Helper to get started.
Google Wants to Please Users. You Should, Too.
We hear it all of the time: Focus on the users. But there’s truth to it. Search engines are learning every day. And ultimately, they’re following user trends, not the other way around.
Accessible content that provides a great experience will reign, both in the users’ hearts and in the search engine algorithms. Focus on the user first, polish up your technical aspects, and use the tools Google has made available for free. The organic traffic is sure to follow.