Organic traffic is to websites as walk-in visitors are to storefronts. Free potential customers that didn't cost you a thing. No fancy magazine ads. No TV commercials. And no trade-show fees.
In addition to being free, organic traffic visitors carry another benefit: They are actively looking for what you have to offer, whether that be a product, a service or more information. They don't need to "be sold" on what you do. They just need more information to help them make their purchase—that's it.
Search engines prioritize webpages according to a variety of factors: Relevant key terms, site authority, and general site optimization are just a few. Unfortunately, getting their attention isn't as easy as walking through the Supreme Court dressed as the Easter Bunny.
Getting ranked in the search engines takes time, but it IS time well spent. For the remainder of this article, we'll review how to create a solid organic search foundation, along with some ninja tricks for ramping up the process considerably.
1. Commit to The Process
Building organic traffic begins with committing to regularly take a handful of specific actions over time. Recognize that you will most likely NOT see significant results from your efforts until a year later. And even then, it will vary according to your industry, competition, and current traffic numbers.
Though it may be tempting to delve into the expert-level strategies you hear being discussed around the blogosphere—Dude, we saw a 30 percent increase in conversions with red buttons over blue! —you're better off setting them aside. That's because these more sophisticated marketing measures won't work if you haven't already established a minimal baseline of site visitors.
Invest in paid advertising, as you build momentum. And, in the meantime don't even think about getting fancy with A/B testing until you reach your benchmark (i.e. 500 unique visits weekly).
2. Build Killer Content
As overly simplistic as it may sound, creating valuable content is the best thing you can do to increase organic traffic. Of course, link building and website optimization are important, but those efforts just don't matter without a pillar of content in place.
Unfortunately, Google is constantly tweaking their algorithms to satisfy search requirements. But it's not all bad. Eliminating black-hat SEO practices and encouraging more valuable content is good news for everyone. As a business owner, it means you have a chance to create something truly helpful and be rewarded for it. But how do you create compelling content?
Step 1: Identify what your customers care about
Your primary goal should be creating content centered around the questions, interests, and concerns of your ideal clients. As a business owner, you probably can recall many frequently asked questions off the top of your head. Compiling a comprehensive list, however, is another story.
We recommend creating a list of 100 of those questions. Include as many departments as possible in its ideation (i.e. sales, marketing, executive management, customer service).
Step 2: Identify what they are searching for
Employ a tool like Keyword Tool to determine the exact words and phrases prospects are searching. Interestingly, there is no science to this. Simply, put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and make an educated guess as to how they're wording their searches.
The keyword tool will generate hundreds of corresponding longer-tail suggestions for you to analyze. For each suggestion, it will tell you: How many searches per month that term receives, the level of competition for ranking, and the cost of purchasing ads with it. Aim for targeting a mixture of low to medium competition keywords to begin.
Step 3: Create a content calendar
At this point, you're ready to combine your homegrown list with your keyword results. Look for opportunities to feature article ideas around specific keywords.
Rank your list of articles based on the search volume and search competition data you gathered using your keyword tool. You might also consider which topics speak most directly to your unique value proposition. Once you’ve determined your priorities, break down the list into tiers or themed groups. Not only will this prevent content generation overwhelm, it should provide you with a solid plan for the next 6-12 months.
Step 4: Schedule time for creating "special content"
The plan outlined above should be the backbone to your organic search strategy. It's your standby. But you're not done yet—continually look for opportunities to create timely, original, and out-of-the-box content. The kind of content that really helps your brand shine and provides extra SEO power.
Here are some tips:
- Repurpose The News: Writing about news, current events, and industry trends are proven strategies for gaining organic traffic. Look for niche topics trending upwards in Google trends.
- Reveal Your Best Stuff: Writing high-quality pieces around a timely event has the potential to supercharge your SEO. If people like it, you'll get link-backs. If they really like it, you'll get long clicks. That's when someone clicks on your link and ends up staying on your page as opposed to immediately returning to the search results. Both actions increase your site's authority in the eyes of Google.
- Write LONG Content: Often called "evergreen content," these pieces range from 2,000 to 10,000 words. Think of them like comprehensive eBooks just sitting on your blog for free. Google likes this too.
- Guest Blog: Pitch major publications (such as Huffington Post, Forbes, Business Insider, etc) and top-level blogs within your industry for guest posting opportunities. You'll get increased exposure, backlinks from authoritative sites, and possible referral traffic.
- Post YouTube Videos: Create corresponding videos for blog articles on your Website. Embed the video within the actual post and add a link to the post in the video description on YouTube. Google, who owns YouTube, automatically shows relevant videos from the platform higher than other content.
3. Manage On-Page SEO
Though on-page SEO is a little on the technical side, you shouldn't be intimidated. Actually, on-page SEO for your site only needs to be done once. An SEO specialist or marketing expert can help you with this, but you'll also want to get in the habit of optimizing individual blog posts. That means:
- Using SEO-friendly URLs (yourbrand.com/how-to-write-amazing-blog-articles),
- Interspersing long-tail keywords throughout the copy (keep it natural),
- Including multimedia (photos, diagrams, videos, screenshots, etc.),
- Linking to relevant content (inbound and outbound),
- Improving page load times,
- Adding social share buttons, and
- Adding rich snippets.
4. Localize Your Pages
Another easy way to increase organic search traffic is to set up local pages on your website. Create a page that targets each city you want to rank in. The key is to create unique, high-quality content for each city page. Otherwise, your pages may end up being penalized rather than showcased. You can personalize your pages by discussing topics that are relevant to each market.
5. Get Mobile-Compatible
As of April 2015, Google Search expanded its use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. The change went into effect in all languages worldwide. The reason? Consumers are now using mobiles for search more than desktops. According to recent data, mobile digital media time in the U.S. is now significantly higher at 51 percent compared to desktop at 42 percent.
Unfortunately, if you're not providing a mobile-friendly experience, you're alienating a large chunk of prospects. Check out Google's Mobile-Friendliness tool for a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer to the question: Is my site mobile friendly?
As the saying goes "Rome wasn't built in a day." And neither is organic search traffic. Building it involves regularly publishing content that is relevant, engaging, and optimized. And the best way to do that is as part of a team.