Traffic is the primary requirement for websites to be successful regardless of a site’s purpose. You need readers or customers to visit your site so you can engage them with your call to action. Means for attracting traffic vary but search engine optimization (SEO) remains a prominent online marketing approach that offers myriad benefits including driving traffic to your website. SEO is generally considered an organic strategy that leverages natural systems such as search engines and their algorithms.
SEO is a constantly evolving process that requires site owners to be familiar with new trends and outdated methods. Many reasons exist for the transforming nature of SEO. These include search engine algorithm updates, search engine customer expectations, and new technologies that can be adapted for SEO purposes.
As we have seen with Google Panda, search engine updates can significantly impact SEO techniques. With one major update, Google has greatly evened the playing field once again by rewarding white hat SEO tactics and penalizing black hat ones. As their customers’ expectations for quality content grew, Google launched the Panda update in response to reinforce their commitment to exceptional customer experience. Search engines also became aware of the prevalent use of social media by their customers and now include indexed social media content on their search engine results pages (SERPs).
Your SEO strategy may need to change for it to effectively drive search engine traffic to your site. SEO is an equally simple and complex mechanism for traffic that requires very specific implementation strategies. The following is a traffic prescription for your site’s success.
A Comprehensive Approach to SEO
It is no longer sufficient to piecemeal your SEO efforts. Now you need a comprehensive approach that includes traditional keyword research, site usability, and link building along with content marketing, social media, and formal branding tactics. To increase your visibility, it is necessary to combine and leverage these tactics for a more targeted and effective SEO strategy. You must plan both on-page and off-page SEO tactics if you are truly interested in gaining more traffic. Sticking solely with on-page efforts is no longer viable.
Customer Experience is Paramount
Web users are becoming more sophisticated all the time. And with this sophistication comes equal measures of high expectations and low tolerance for sites that are not user-friendly. High bounce rates that occur when visitors quickly leave your site are a factor in your PageRank and SERP listings. Low bounce rates suggest your site offers something of value to customers and search engines will reward you accordingly. You may notice that when you conduct a search, the top results are often authority sites that provide quality information such as Wikipedia. Search engines deem this type of site to be more important as evident by a high PageRank (Wikipedia’s is 9 out of 10). Significantly, most sites linger around a 3 or 4 which gives you lots of leeway to make a good impression on customers.
Build and Write for People
You must design a website that customers not only want to visit but that other site owners want to link to so you can enhance your link building campaign. Backlinks are still important for SEO but a new emphasis has been placed on the quality of the links. And when you write for people, you have to actually consider your words. Being helpful goes a long way to earning customer loyalty which means more traffic. Loyal customers are more likely to share your content with others which continues the linking process. Providing valuable content requires writing unique and relevant content. Check out forums to see what people are interested in or find blogs that receive a lot of comments. You want to write content that engages people – that, in turn, will engage the search engines.
Brand for Visibility and Trust
Branding helps drive traffic to your site. It helps establish your site as a high-trust domain that search engines rank higher on SERPs. Unless they have a bad experience, customers tend to trust a recognizable brand over one that is not familiar. For this reason, it is necessary to get your brand seen by as many people as possible. You do this by connecting all of your off-page SEO activities with your website. Your brand includes your business name, logo, tagline, products, services, and reputation. A great reputation is essential if you expect a steady stream of traffic.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you try to build links too fast or provide too much content at one time, you may find your SEO efforts stymied. Rather than moving up on SERPs and getting higher PageRank, it is possible the exact opposite will occur. A slower but steady approach will be more rewarding. Even if you hire an SEO to help you, they can do so at a pace that mirrors a “natural” approach. When you take your time, you begin to focus more on quantity rather than quality. Take your time and do it right the first time. You will be better prepared for future search engine updates if you take this approach. And your traffic flow will not be interrupted as a result.
Quality Above All Else
Yes, content is king. But if the content is low-quality, it is completely worthless for SEO. This is another instance when more is not necessarily better. Customers and search engines alike want to see quality over quantity. And this goes beyond your site content. It embraces everything you do from site design to social media communications. Always provide quality and relevance when creating anything that will be used by customers or search engines. There are plenty of purported SEO shortcuts, but you should never trade quality for time. Be conscientious whether you are creating code or developing a tweet. When accumulated, your efforts will make it easier for search engines to drive traffic to your site.
Diversify Marketing Strategies
It is becoming increasingly important to engage in both free and paid marketing activities if you want traffic. Search engine ad programs remain viable options. Other advertising sites also offer pay-per-click programs to help drive traffic to your site. Many people stick with the search engine programs believing they offer benefits over other programs. But there are reputable SEO companies that can also help you through quality affiliate opportunities. Diversifying your marketing activities allows you to target ads to specific demographics and tap into new traffic opportunities.
Watch Current Trends to See Which Stick
Do you remember the first time someone asked you if you were on Facebook? And you adamantly announced that not only are you not on Facebook, you never will be? My, how times have changed. Don’t be so quick to assume that a new approach is not worth your time. We need look no further than Google+ which many critics decried as an unnecessary addition to the social media pool. Yet, barely seven months after its official public launch, approximately 100 million people see value in the network. This is not to suggest you should immediately join every new trend that emerges; but it can be beneficial to at least see what is trending and see which ones that stick you want to participate in to attract more traffic.
Creativity Saves the Day
Establish your own trends. Yes, this takes creativity and some pretty decent research skills. But you can be rewarded with increased traffic if you do something that nobody else does but everyone will want to. It can be as simple as creating a widget or app that connects users to your website. Or create a YouTube video that is unlike anything else out there that markets your site in a unique way. The point is there are many roads you can take to drive traffic to your site. It just takes some creative juice to delve forward and to figure out how to incorporate these into your SEO strategy.
Measure and Measure Again
If you don’t already use some type of analytics to track your traffic, now is the time to start. By knowing where your visitors are coming from and which become customers, you better target your traffic-bait activities. You can become fairly efficient in managing your traffic flow if you have and use the proper tools. If you are using a search engine ad program, you will have access to certain data through that program. But understand you will only be able to track traffic that is a result of paid marketing activities. You will need other tools to learn about the traffic driven to your site organically by search engines. Many tools are free and their level of sophistication continues to improve. You can visit a reputable SEO to get analytic tool recommendations.
Developing a strong SEO strategy can help you get quality traffic to your site. You can target traffic so you get the demographics that are most likely to become customers. The better prepared you are in your approach, the greater traffic result you will obtain. This requires an ongoing commitment to your customers, search engines, and SEO.