Organic traffic is the lifeblood of online businesses—and every marketer knows that a fantastic SEO game is a way to get it.
Since attracting organic traffic is a never-ending process, we’ve made this handy post for you guys to ensure your SEO is in winning mode.
Let’s do this together.
Focus on User’s Experience
A winning user experience turns everything into gold, including your SEO.
If you want your SEO to be 24-carat gold, you’ll start brainstorming ways to supercharge the user experience of your website or blog.
Primarily, it affects your ranking and the number of organic visitors that rush to your website.
This is how UX affects your SEO’s bottom line.
When users go to a website and abandon it quickly, it sends a signal to Google that the user experience is not satisfactory.
Because of it, the website’s rank goes down and further away from the first page of the search results.
And why shouldn’t it? The first page is reserved for the best performers only, and not clumsy websites that frustrate users.
If you think we’re overstating the value of UX for SEO, heed the words of Google, who specifically said it would give web admins a six months notice to improve their UX before penalizing them with a poor Page Experience signal.
Accept the fact that UX is the be-all-end-all of any web experience and get to work.
As an SEO expert, there are two things you should monitor at all times that show your page’s UX is doing and its impact on SEO.
Are you ready?
They’re our old friends Dwell Time and Click-Through Rate.
As you know, over 3 minutes of a visitor’s stay at your website makes for great DT numbers, so aim to hit that mark.
A little more than 40% of websites are getting there—are you?
As for your CTR for organic search, you shouldn’t hesitate to set ambitious goals. After all, high rates impact your website on so many levels.
A healthy CTR would be anywhere from 3 to 5% but aim for the higher side of the spectrum.
Your SEO will get nowhere if you neglect your UX. You might not be a UX designer, but you can track metrics so you have something to work with to improve the user experience of your website.
Alright, we’ll stay on this track a bit longer and talk more about User Engagement and how it ties to your SEO game.
Increase User Engagement to Foster Organic Traffic
User Engagement is the twin sister to User Experience. Ignore one sister, and your SEO will suffer.
When your users have a poor experience with your website, there’s no way they’re going to stick around for a significant amount of time, and that will affect your rankings.
That’s why making your website as engaging as possible is paramount.
Figuring out novel ways to make their websites appealing to their users is something top-level digital marketers think actively about, before and after their morning coffee.
You see, when websites fail to engage with their users, they lose them, end of story.
And when that happens, SEO rankings sink like a stone.
To get the most out of organic traffic, you have to develop meaningful, beneficial ways to engage with users.
There’s hardly a better, non-invasive way to engage with your customers than top-notch content that gives them exactly what they came for. Hope we agree.
Just think about the last time you had to Google for a post that explained something to you.
You probably Googled for a How-to article, picked one of the top 3 search results, and went in with the best intention of reading their content.
Now, if the article or guide was outstanding, you got what you needed and maybe even bookmarked the website to return to it the next time you need help.
However, if not, you bounced from the website in a matter of seconds.
Rest assured that your bounce scratched their SEO.
With this in mind, our best engagement advice is to prioritize the user experience. In other words, give your users content to engage with.
By offering valuable and insightful content that educates them and helps them solve problems, you’re showing your users that you understand them and are genuinely on their side.
You’re giving them every reason to go find more content on your website and engage with it more.
That’s pure SEO fuel!
There are all sorts of content you can create for your users. Think about:
- PDF guides
- Case studies
- Educational videos
- Online calculators
Whichever you pick is entirely up to you.
Just know that your users are eager to engage with your content—so make sure you accommodate them.
Next, let’s talk about the principles behind SEO-boosting content tips.
Optimize for Readers First, Algorithms Second
SEO professionals can become overly focused on things like keywords, so they forget the reader is crucial for success.
Don’t get us wrong, keywords mean the world, but nothing should come at the expense of the reader’s experience.
While it’s true that search engines try to understand readers by mimicking them, the same doesn’t hold true in reverse.
Users do not engage with content like search engines.
They see only the surface-level SEO and focus solely on their User Experience.
Let’s stick to our keyword example and see how it can result in a rookie mistake.
Imagine you do some research and come to the erroneous conclusion that if you stuff your post with as many keywords, you’ll boost your SEO.
You publish the thing, and what does your reader see?
Keyword bait instead of insightful text.
This example doesn’t mean you have to give up on SEO principles but quite the contrary, putting readers first is an SEO principle in and of itself, because when readers have an excellent experience, your SEO gets a boost.
Many content writers have a knack for putting search engines first. They forget that this isn’t 2010 anymore.
Google wants personalized, user-oriented texts.
So before publishing a post, ask yourself: does this content help the user or my search engine?
And be honest about it.
The only way to put readers first is to provide them with a fine-tailored, insightful experience and prioritize that over the number of keywords.
The next content principle is based on authority and comprehensiveness.
Content Has to Be Comprehensive and Authoritative
Not to sound harsh, but only first-rate content makes the cut, and everything else is a distraction.
See, nobody wants to spend time on clickbait titles that disappoint and frustrate.
Since you can’t help users and waste their time at once, your content will achieve only one of those things. Which one of the two is up to the quality of the content you put out.
Now comes the punchline.
Users want comprehensive content that has authority on the subject at hand.
Because who’d you rather listen to? An expert with industry-wide knowledge and something insightful to say, or somebody that took 2 hours to cover a topic they have a superficial understanding of?
In the world of content, expertise equals authority.
The same goes for your content.
Suppose your content covers the topic comprehensively and with authority.
In that case, you’re going to make magic happen, and your SEO will flourish: engagement will rise, along with crawl time, backlinks and shares.
There’s virtually no other SEO-friendly practice that achieves so many things.
Check this out!
A little while ago, BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million articles and found something pretty interesting. While social sharing of content dropped in half, authoritative content consistently got new backlinks—repeatedly.
This goes to say how users appreciate quality content and reward it whenever they can.
If writing authoritative content was easy, the internet would be a much better place.
But it’s not.
The focus of your content writing should be to offer a unique and data-informed perspective about a topic. Case studies are a perfect example of this, but the guiding principle is to show you’re an expert.
Also, keep in mind that experts always check their facts, work on their writing and avoid rookie mistakes.
So, your priority should be to improve your writing and catch up to subject authorities.
Speaking of authority, there’s no way around high-authority websites.
Prioritize Backlinks From High Authority Websites
Not all backlinks are created equal.
There are always websites with a high reputation in the industry, and less authoritative sites that offer little value. To think their respective backlinks are worth the same is delusional.
That’s because site authority is a key SEO metric. The higher the authority, the higher the backlink value.
Look at this example:
You can tell that the authority score of Adidas.com is sitting at 82, which is pretty darn high.
The score is calculated based on backlinks, monthly visits, referring domains, and of course, keywords.
Backlinks from high-authority sites are more valuable than those from broad websites with low or average authority.
We’re not alone in this opinion.
A massive survey by uSERP found out that 65% of marketers believe domain authority is the most critical metric for the overall backlink quality. The idea that the sheer volume of backlinks is enough to raid the first page of the search results is just not accurate.
We’re sure you know that to get backlinks, execute a successful strategy and create excellent link-worthy content.
If you neglect to prioritize the backlinks, you’re bound to waste time trying to get them from websites that don’t necessarily have the highest authority.
That means you’ll waste your resources backing the wrong horse.
Prioritize high authority sites over low authority ones using any tool you want to own your backlinking game.
Picking them is not the hard part. Winning them over is.
Top authority websites are usually very picky for backlinking to another blog or website. It’s only natural that they wouldn’t risk their site’s reputation by linking to low-quality content.
To get backlinks from high-authority websites, your content has to match the quality of what they’re backlinking—meeting that standard demands diligent quality research.
You should also follow their editor’s notes to the letter.
Putting out subpar content or trying to get backlinks from low authority sites will do little favor to your backlink traffic.
Make Your Featured Snippets Rank
Let’s all admit the featured snippets are the first thing we look at after hitting that search button.
Since the internet is a visual medium, it’s only natural the visitor’s attention is completely captured by the first image that pops up. That’s why featured snippets reign supreme.
When you secure a spot at the featured snippets, your content is at the top of Google’s search results, which means your organic traffic is likely to skyrocket.
Ranking as a featured snippet is an SEO win for any company.
Getting a featured snippet rank is like an adrenaline shot to your SEO’s beating heart.
Sadly, only 19% of search results have a featured snippet.
Getting your page somewhere between the scarce featured snippets count is the SEO winning edge you’ve been looking for all this time.
To get there, an SEO expert knows that there are two vital steps every page must take to start their thousand-mile journey to the top of the featured snippets:
- Pick a content piece you want to appear as a featured snippet. It has to be engaging enough to intrigue the user and compel them to click on the link.
- Study the keywords that most featured snippets use. Everything that has anything to do with search results requires a keyword study, including featured snippets. For example, the aforementioned study by Semrush has found that the overwhelming 77.6% of questions starting with why have featured snippets.
If you think the first page of the search results will do well for your business, try getting your hands on the featured snippet rank.
Don’t Ignore Your Mobile-First Indexing
Gone are the days when a desktop website was the primary place of business.
You heard us!
Every marketer knows very well that mobile browsing outweighs desktop. This has been true since 2016, and it’s clear that we’ve passed the point of no return.
To get down to the nitty-gritty with the data, 55% of internet usage comes from mobile, 42% from desktop, and the final 3% is from tablets. You can check the numbers yourself here.
Then it shouldn’t shock you to see that Google officially claims mobile as the primary version of a website.
In simple terms, when indexing sites and ranking them at the search results, Google will use your mobile website first, which further shapes SEO practices.
However, if your business does not have a mobile website at all, Google will use your desktop version for indexing.
Still, keep in mind that not having a mobile version of your website at all is a terrible decision.
In other words, ignoring the SEO needs of your mobile website is now a form of self-sabotage.
By keeping your mobile website unresponsive, you’re hurting your SEO ranking and, with it, the success of your website.
Getting the mobile version of your website in shape should be on top of your to-do list. Sadly, there’s not a one-shoe-fits-all solution.
Every website’s needs are unique, and nailing the mobile-first indexing of your website requires an in-depth evaluation of your website’s mobile state so your team can identify which of its aspects need to be made more responsive.
Seriously, could you do it now?
If you don’t have a mobile version, start a mobile web development project so your business can compete with all those great mobile sites.
While you’re waiting for your report, look out for minor identifiers such as the M-dot URL.
The M-dot URL denotes that you’re using a mobile version of a website rather than a separate and responsive mobile website.
For example, if your website domain is website.com, without a responsive web design, for mobile browsers, it would be m.website.com. The best way to address that is to switch entirely to a responsive site.
Securing a high SEO ranking is all about being on Google’s good side.
The way to do that is to follow its guidelines to the letter, which are clearly focused on the mobile browsing experience.
The performance of your SEO is inherently bound to the performance of your mobile website.
Now that we’ve brought up URLs, we can mention one more thing.
A Short and to-the-Point URL Is Not Optional
Which would you rather click on?
We’re pretty sure you picked A.
Spoiler alert: B doesn’t even exist because Wikipedia knows very well how important readable URLs are.
Let’s unpack this example, shall we?
Search engines are user-centered creatures, so things that confuse users, confuse search engines as well. The confusion reflects on your website’s SEO performance.
When URLs are readable and understandable, users can tell what the page is about before clicking on them, which benefits your SEO immensely.
Naturally, doing the opposite hurts your SEO and search result rankings. Look at the example again.
For example, A, the user who Googled URL shortening, knows exactly what the Wikipedia article is about.
It’s short and easy to understand, meaning that reading the URL is quick, and the title clearly explains the content of the article.
Example B is the polar opposite. The ambiguous article/437847398433743648 tells us nothing about the page’s content, so we don’t know what it’s about unless we click on the link.
And let’s face it, which do you find more trustworthy: this URL or one that has the article title clearly displayed?
Miles-long URLs can’t compare to short URLs. It’s because short URLs are memorable, easy to read and type.
Luckily, optimizing your URL is not an SEO-technical task, and you can easily do it if you stick to these guiding principles.
First off, make sure your URL is short. By short, we mean in the ballpark of 60 characters.
Make sure you include at least one targeted keyword in the page URL. Users search things with keywords, so it’s keywords that make or break the post or article.
So, make sure to include the main keyword in the 60-character count.
As we said, changing the URL is easy. Just log into your dashboard and update it.
For example, if you’re using WordPress, find your post’s permalink, hit the edit button, and update it.
That’s all there is to it.
Update Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for Each Page
We see HTML components like Page Titles and Meta Descriptions neglected all the time, to the detriment of a page’s SEO.
When users Google for terms, they’re going to look for a handful of revealing clues before deciding why they should click on a particular link in the search results.
Titles and Meta Descriptions are where the money’s at.
It’s easy to understand how essential Title tags are because they contain the theme or the point of the article. If the title matches the user’s search query, they have a reason to click on the link.
Nothing shocking here.
However, when marketers and writers purposely put misleading titles as a cheap way of getting traffic, users get frustrated and bounce.
Such marketers might think they’re doing the right thing, but in reality, they’re hurting their SEO performance by stacking their bounce rate. You should do better.
Remember when you got goaded into clicking a link that turned out to be clickbait? Well, that’s kind of the same thing.
So, keep your page titles relevant, to the point, and without a clickbait approach.
Meta Descriptions take it a step further.
They give a user a more detailed description of the article to see what its content is before deciding to click on it and explore further.
By optimizing your Meta Descriptions, you benefit your ranking and organic traffic.
Neglecting it would mean missing an opportunity for incoming traffic and hurtful towards your search ranking. We see poor meta descriptions every day.
Updating your Meta Descriptions is easy, but not effortless.
For instance, can you tell what’s wrong with this picture?
This meta description is not uniquely written for this article, which is ironic because the article itself talks about the importance of content meta tags—which includes meta descriptions.
Also, websites often create a “standard” meta description that’s automatically copied over to every new published page. That’s not a good SEO practice.
Google doesn’t look kindly at duplicated content, meaning that copying the same text to every Meta Description is a bad idea in the first place.
For example, a post about content marketing from a digital agency has the same Meta Description as their post about the importance of Inbound marketing.
What you should do is write a unique, user-centered Meta Description that will explain what the post is about and give a reason to click on it.
Keep in mind that they have room for about 120 characters, so there’s no point in writing a comprehensive overview of the article.
Evaluate the Meta Descriptions of your pages and write a unique description for everyone. You’ll be doing your SEO a massive favor.
It’s about time we said a thing or two about keywords.
Focus Content on Both Primary and Secondary Keywords
Every content marketer worth his salt understands that keywords guide content creation.
After all, it’s what users search for that’s going to get them to a piece of content that addresses the topic best.
Nothing new here.
However, there’s an important distinction to be made between primary and secondary keywords. Understanding what that difference is and how it will focus your content creation is key.
Primary keywords are the main focus of the content you’re publishing, i.e., the core of a post.
Secondary keywords are supporting phrases that make the content readable and give it context; they’re related to the theme of the post.
You’re already using them, and this example will help you understand how.
Let’s say you’re writing a post around the keyword Restaurant.
In that case, a supporting keyword would be something like Best Mexican, because Best Mexican Restaurants gives users further context and addresses their search intent.
By strategically using secondary and primary keywords for content creation, you can improve your search rank and your site’s SEO performance.
Like everything keyword-related, to do it right, you have to do your research.
Searching and trying out different keywords to see which ones are the best will determine how you focus your content creation.
Choose frequently searched keywords as primary keywords, and for the secondaries, pick keywords that are more specific, like in the example.
Content pros use keyword research tools because they provide insightful data on every searched keyword.
Instinct alone is never enough.
There are many tools out there that do the trick, so try out several and start fishing for your keywords. You can choose between free and paid versions, so there’s no point in missing out anymore.
Pick the one that suits your business the best and go for it.
Now, let’s go into the technicalities of SEO.
Drop Anything That is Slowing Down Your Website
Providing a satisfactory website is the core guiding principle of User Experience. If there’s anything that drives frustration and dissatisfaction in users, it’s a slow-loading website.
Imagine finding an article that seems to directly address a problem you’re having: the keywords are the thing you’re looking for, and the Meta Description checks out. You’re browsing from your smartphone, and you click on it.
It takes 20 seconds to load the first image.
First strike, and you’re out.
When websites take forever to load, users ditch them ASAP.
Web admins are off the mark if they think users will patiently wait for the content to load when there are dozens of other pages covering the same topic and competing for the user’s attention.
Worse yet, Google quickly picks up on the pages that stack abandons and punishes them by dropping their ranking.
After all, a fantastic User Experience is Google’s endgame.
A website that takes over 3 seconds is just too slow for the demands of today’s users. This doubles down for mobile browsing.
For the past ten years, page load speed has been a vital SEO metric. That’s why getting your page speed in check is an SEO priority.
The best way to do it is to lose all the assets that are dragging your website down.
Those can be elements like:
- Heavy images
- Other non-optimized pieces of content
They’re of no use to you or your users if they’re hindering the performance of your website.
Remember that reducing the time your site takes to lad isn’t a one-off deal but a continuous process. You have to track its speed to make sure it’s up and running.
To do it, you can use a plethora of free tools, like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Just type in your page’s URL and hit the analyze button.
Elon Musk has the right idea.
After you’ve made your website lightweight, you ought to do something about the format of your content.
Fine-Tune Your Content For Search Engines
Have you ever seen content that’s just not fit for search engines?
We’re talking about posts with messy Meta Descriptions, titles as long as the equator, and poor UX.
Since we’re in the business of SEO, how you prep your content for search engines is what’s going to make or break their ranking.
Think of search engines as users: if a post or article is difficult for them to understand, an average internet user is going to have a very hard time with it as well.
As a matter of fact, they’ll miss it completely.
When content is organized in headings and subheadings and with shorter sentences, the search engine can understand what the content piece is about and rank it accordingly.
A study from Ahefs has found that the jaw-dropping 90% of content gets no search traffic from Google.
If you want your content to get any traffic, it has to play by Google’s rules and be optimized for search engines. Otherwise, you’re wasting your resources.
The burning question is: what does search-engine optimized content look like?
Well, fine-tuned content for search engines successfully shows three things:
Understanding of the search engine. Search engines have rules that decide how to rank pages. Your content has to play by those rules if you want it to be on the top page of the search results.
For example, if a blog post has no backlinks, relevance, and a slow-loading website, it’s hard to imagine it on the first page of Google.
Keywords. Without keyword research, you won’t be able to find primary and secondary keywords that can win over a search engine.
On-site optimization. Like we said, non-optimized websites get abandoned by users in a heartbeat. That’s why on-site optimization is something you can’t do without.
Creating content writing for search engines is inseparable from quality content marketing work. If you want your SEO to flourish, you’ll format your content according to the search engine.
We covered the technical bits of content creation, so it’s only right we cover a handful of user-centered SEO metrics.
Raise the Bar on Word Count
If you’re only going to write 600-700 blogs per post, you might as well give up.
We said it times again; readers want value.
With short posts, it’s impossible to give them an insightful, valuable reading experience. Doing the minimum gets you nowhere in terms of SEO and backlinks.
Let’s have a look at these.
The overwhelming majority of surveyed marketers claim there’s a link between longer, comprehensive blog posts and getting higher rankings.
It makes perfect sense; longer posts increase crawl time, do a better job at educating customers, and can add more value.
After all, with them, you don’t have to worry about cramming everything you want to say in a page and a half.
As for the backlinks…
According to Backlinko’s data, long-form content outperforms short-form for backlinks. Again, it makes perfect sense; long-form can provide more data and linkable content that other posts will backlink and boost SEO.
Notice that every post we backlinked in this guide easily tops 2000 words.
We’re sure you have what it takes to write longer posts.
As a rule of thumb, go for 1500-3000 words if you want to improve your ranking, but to give your readers a detail-rich post, you should aim for at least 3000 words.
Note that stuffing your posts with filler words and sentences hurts the UX of your articles, so doing that to reach the word count is an amateur tactic that does more harm than good.
You have to fill that word count with proper insights and data.
Readers only want first-rate content, and that is long-form posts.
Let’s keep the ball rolling on what readers want.
It Takes Original Content to Boost Your SEO
Newsflash: your content has to be original for your SEO to improve. By original, we mean non-duplicated and written completely by yourself or your team.
There are countless posts out there copying and rephrasing the same post over again.
It’s like seeing posts from different media companies reporting on the same celebrity Tweet; it doesn’t go well with users and SEO.
Nobody’s forcing you to reinvent the wheel, but the content you publish has to be original, or you’re falling in the same category as average content makers who just rephrase things and hope nobody will notice.
Ironically, that’s exactly what will happen: nobody will notice.
Mediocre posts get zero backlinks and never reach the first page of Google.
The only way to get there is to serve fresh and content that will impress your users and make them interact with it.
That takes originality and wit.
You might think that there’s no way your originality can live up to that much pressure, but that’s just the insecurity talking and not your writing skills.
Again, you don’t have to reinvent the internet. The best place to start is to ask yourself: how can I offer a fresh perspective on a well-known topic? Take it from there and start digging.
If you think this is impossible, know that up to 81% of content marketers plan to increase their publishing of original content, according to this industry report.
Marketers understand that unoriginal content doesn’t cut it anymore.
Lucky for everybody, there are so many ways to be original nowadays. Here are some examples that always fly well with audiences:
- Industry reports (see what we did there?)
- Case studies
- PDF guides
- Interviews with industry heads
- Original takes on evergreen topics.
Keep your eyes on that last bit because most marketers get it wrong.
Write Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is evergreen for a reason.
Some topics never go out of fashion, and these topics offer you a chance to cover them in your own way for the benefit of your SEO.
An original take at a topic is a prime example.
There might be a voice in your head asking: does the world need another post about the importance of SEO?
The answer is YES, but only if it offers something fresh. If not, you’re just being a copycat.
No matter the topic, if it’s something that affects their lives, people will want to read about it and get new insights into it. And that is what evergreen content is all about.
If you don’t take our word on it, have a look at this:
People will always be interested in financial advice.
We could’ve pulled out graphs with interest for BBQ recipes, home improvement tactics, staff hiring advice, marketing tips, building dog houses, etc. You’d still get a similar picture.
Whenever a topic generates a constant level of interest, it’s evergreen content.
So, why not cover topics that people are always interested in?
When you do something original with it, all those users that are constantly on the lookout will notice, and discover your work.
This means your SEO will leverage the general level of interest to attract new users and boost your ranking. All that traffic is waiting for you.
Being the master of evergreen will take two things: research and your unique approach.
To know what’s evergreen, do research and see if there’s constant or seasonal interest in the topic.
Since the interest in seasonal posts peaks only at specific times of the year, you don’t want to mistake things like Christmas-related topics as evergreen.
You’re on the watch for sustainable topics that you can revisit throughout the year and be different.
By different, we mean your unique or fresh approach.
For example, SEO is constantly evolving, so there’s always going to be room for a fresh take, especially when Google’s new updates roll out.
You could write five different posts about SEO in a week and still cover a different angle.
Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, marketers often mistake evergreen content for unoriginal.
By doing so, they give up from the start and pass on an amazing traffic opportunity.
You can either be like them or see what topics always click and have some fun with them by doing things your way.
No great SEO advice would be complete without talking about your competition.
Don’t Forget to Study Your Competitors
Every business has competition breathing down its necks and competing for the attention of its customers.
Content marketing is a race that’s won by doing a better job than the opposing team.
You need to study them diligently.
Follow their blog, so you have a perspective on their writing dynamics. This includes blog post length, format, content, and quality.
It’s not enough to have a peep every once in a while, but to be persistent with it.
Find out which keywords they are ranking for with the help of keyword tools.
Discover what types of content they are publishing. For example, they can successfully use a video and blog combo to reach traffic, which suggests you should give it a shot.
There are always going to be competitors doing things differently. If they’re making waves with their content, you must know how and why.
To learn that, you need to know what the difference is between you and your competitor.
Not only will you understand them better, but you will also have a benchmark to position yourself and improve your content.
And if there’s somebody that will appreciate it, it’s your audience.
Sticking your head in the sad and wishing there was nobody doing a better job than you is a disservice. Keeping your eye on your competitors’ content will help you become:
- Bent on outdoing your competitors
As a content marketer, you can’t afford to look back and pass on new trends and ways to win users over.
How do you fancy our SEO tips? Are you guilty of some bad habits?
We hope this post inspired your content marketing game and that it’s going to help you get the ball rolling with your site’s SEO.
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more insights coming your way in the coming days.