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A Few Actionable Ways on How to Grow Traffic for SEO Rookies
By Sergey Aliokhin from Ahrefs
SEO appears something extensive and a bit scary for those who have never heard or dealt with it before. However, everyone who decided to run an online business knows that SEO is something that will help you draw more traffic to a website.
I must say that there is no need to have in-depth knowledge of optimization. You can always hire an SEO expert who would do all the tiny things for you. But you must know its basics.
Thus, I am going to help you with the following questions along the post:
Get to the point!
SIDENOTE: If you are new to SEO and you’re struggling to climb on top of Google, you should watch this video:
Step into Your Audience’s Shoes and See What It Searches in Google
If you don’t know what your target audience searches on the web, you won’t be able to optimize your website correctly.
The process of optimization starts with the one-banana problem that you should solve. You must understand what your target audience wants from your website (service/product) in general.
The best and the most straightforward way to get this information is to read the comments users leave across the web on forums related to your niche. Unfortunately, it takes too much time.
However, there is another good way to get the data you need.
I am talking about your own “user assumption” and queries people might use to find your service on Google.
I believe it would be better to give you an example.
Imagine that you own the website that offers sports nutrition stuff. Ask yourself “what inquiries would you use to find websites that sell sports nutrition?”
With the help of “user assumption,” you got some queries that would help you along the way.
Your next step is to find the information on how your potential target audience discusses the topics you are interested in (in terms of optimization, of course.)
Having potential inquiries in mind is just half of the battle. You need to discover more detailed information on the keywords people use to stumble upon your website. I would recommend you to use Keywords Explorer tool and do a quick overview of the core metrics that might be valuable for you:
A keyword ‘sports nutrition’ has search volume around 4.6K across the US and 2.1K in the UK. What’s more important, you can see that you’ll get about 700 traffic if you rank #1 on Google.
I believe that this information would be useful no matter what keywords you’re going to rank for.
Other than that you can get more keyword ideas using a keyword generator. You will get a certain amount of keywords that might be used during creating your content.
Other Possible Ways to Get Search Suggestions
There is no easier way to get search suggestions for a given keyword than using Google. Here is what I mean:
By adding the following letter Google gives you new suggestions:
Moreover, you can find excellent search suggestions with the help of Keywords Explorer tool:
Apart from keyword ideas you will get the information regarding useful metrics like search volume, cost per click value, keyword difficulty, return rate, click per search, etc. These stats are pretty important for your keyword research strategy. Don’t neglect to take them into account.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that if you go to the bottom of Google’s page, you will see a section ‘related searches’:
Why not get armed with these search suggestions by yourself?
To reach success in attracting new customers to your website, you should know what content would attract them exactly. I think you would agree with me that having a conversation with the customers is a good way to come up with the content ideas. Unfortunately, it takes too much time.
That’s why you need some alternative in this case.
Content Explorer can save your time and offer lots of great ideas for your content. Let’s see what topics were popular for the past year using a keyword ‘sports nutrition’:
I’ve marked the promising and popular topics for the set period of time.
Social media channels and different forums (communities) are the next places I would recommend you to search for the insights about the topic you’re obsessed with.
For instance, Facebook can suggest you dozens of groups that are related to your niche. Just type a query in the search bar:
As you can see, Facebook suggests you a list of groups that contain lots of members. It means that you’ll get a load of information on the topic you are interested in.
Reddit and Quora are good for getting topic insights as well:
I’ve marked three interesting topics that I wouldn’t mind to cover on my niche-related blog. These ideas I found on Reddit - the place where people discuss different topics willingly.
Quora isn’t an exception in terms of searching content ideas:
A quick glance over the questions gives me a nice content idea that fits “sports nutrition” niche. “What is the difference between whey and lean protein?” could be transformed into the post “Whey And Lean Protein: A Few Basic Distinctions” - sounds pretty engageable, am I right?
And you shouldn’t neglect to explore the interesting topics on various forums. You can find dozens of niche-related forums on Google.
Every keyword tends to have its personal goal. Consequently, the keywords are split into three categories:
But the trick is that if you don’t know the exact search intent behind the keyword, you won’t understand user behavior. It is utterly essential to keep an eye on it because Google notes what search terms people use and suggests them only those results that would 100% satisfy their queries.
To show you the difference and importance of keyword intent, I will feature a few examples down below:
The query ‘sports nutrition online shop’ gives me the list of the websites where I could buy the product I need. But if I type ‘sports nutrition stores near me’, I will get the shops that are located in my native town where I could go myself:
As you already guessed, keyword intent matters.
Search Optimization for Pages
The next position I am going to cover is how to optimize pages for search. And I will start with on-page optimization because this process helps you adjust pages on your website.
There are six steps involved in this process:
The main principle of URLs is to display the information that is presented on the web pages. It means that you should add a target keyword within the URL of the particular page. In other words, if the URL leads to a piece of content that covers ‘sports nutrition for sprinters’, the URL address would look like this ‘domain.com/blog/sports-nutrition-for-sprinters.’
Meta title and Meta description
If you want to help web crawlers find some page on your website, you should add meta properties. There are such meta properties as ‘meta title’ and ‘meta description’:
Both of these meta properties must include a target keyword.
First things first, content creates the informational field for any website. It means your website must contain a blog with high-quality, niche-related, and engageable content on it. It should be mentioned that Google likes long-form content. Thus, you should write 2,000+ words posts that are optimized properly.
Since search engines have the aim to crawl every page on your website, you should help them out with this. The pages on your site (especially on your blog) contain some kind of content, so you must optimize its structure styling the headers in HTML format.
Here are two main tags that should contain the target keywords you want to rank for:
H1 tag is a header of the page - it should be only one per page.
H2 tag represents the subheadings of the page. They must contain keywords similar to the ones in H1 header tag.
Here is an example of the content structure. Please note the headers pattern:
To sum up, making сontent structured you help crawlers categorize it across the pages on your website + you help your users navigate through it.
Nobody likes roughly written content on the website. It is boring. The majority of the users likes some visual elements that would attract their attention to the content in general. In other words, a post without images won’t be so engageable in contrast to the one that contains a couple of images in it.
However, the crawlers can’t find the images on the pages without your help. To help crawlers with this issue you should add alt tags within the informational description of the image. Don’t forget to add a target keyword to alt tag description.
I think this aspect of optimization could be counted as a part of the content structure. Due to the fact that the content structure helps crawlers find the particular page on the website, internal linking improves the speed of website’s crawling.
Moreover, internal linking helps users navigate across other pages on the website. For instance, if you wrote a post on your blog about ‘Sports nutrition tips for athletes’, thus you should add links to other separate pages on your website, like ‘Recovery after exercises’, ‘Hypertrophy and calorie strategy’, etc. The main idea is to help your users and crawlers reach out to all possible pages on your website.
Make Sure Your Site Is Easily Accessible to Both People and Search Engines
I can’t deny the fact that human behavior is something that we can predict because we are human beings. But it is hardly possible when it comes to crawlers. SEO focuses on both aspects of this question.
While I’m covering SEO basics, I won’t get into detail about technically difficult elements of it. Any professional SEO nerd would be happy to help you sort things out for a certain charge.
My purpose is to reveal you the basics that you must know cold. There are a few technical SEO aspects you should keep in mind optimizing your website:
It is an important file that allows search bots to run around all pages on your site and see the connection these pages have between each other. The goal of this “journey” is to search for new pages and index them. That’s all.
Load speed of the website
I guess you’ve already understood what this element means. Yes, it is the way important to optimize your website’s speed. Nobody likes to wait, especially when it comes to loading website pages. Statistics show if it takes more than 3 seconds to get the website (and pages on it) loaded, 40% of users will leave it no doubt.
To monitor website loading speed you should use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It tracks the website’s speed and provides you with pieces of advice on how to speed it up along the way.
There are cases when website owners want to block the access to some of the website pages to avoid indexing them by web-crawlers. To let crawlers know which pages should be indexed and which should be not, you must create a robots.txt file. This file allocates the pages on the website and helps the crawlers find the ones that must be indexed.
Another significant direction of SEO is called link-building. Link-building is an excellent way to gain more traffic to your website in a legitimate way. There are quite a few powerful and actionable strategies to build links. These strategies are:
I believe that guest blogging is one of the most proven methods to build links but it is too time-consuming. As a rule, most of the blog editors offer a backlink to your website for writing high-quality and unique content for their resources. It is a kind of reward for your efforts to enrich some blog with an awesome piece of content.
First of all, when you do guest blogging, you should search for niche-related blogs that generate a solid amount of traffic. However, I must say that you shouldn’t neglect to write posts for mediocre blogs as well. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen tomorrow. And maybe some of these blogs will grow into serious websites that attract lots of traffic. Thus, don’t miss any good opportunities to guest blogging.
Secondly, don’t forget to link to other relevant resources adding the links to your content. It is a good practice that is highly-appreciated by Google.
Outreach means “building relationships” between people in the online space. If we talk about online business, outreach aims to build business relations that are based on the mutual benefit. In the case of content marketing, outreach helps promote your content and earn backlinks.
Let me show you a brief step-by-step guide how to do it correctly.
Find competitors material that ranks high in Google first
Presume that you’ve written and published an awesome post on “sports nutrition tips for athletes.” You need to promote it and get as many backlinks as you can. Go to Google and type in a query related to your topic:
Now you need to get the information on backlinks. Choose the post from the Google results’ list and put it to Site Explorer:
The tool shows 36 backlinks for this post. Run through these links and find the most promising ones.
Find contact details of outreach targets
By “contact details” I mean a personal email address of the person you want to send the email pitch to. I recommend you to use such tools as ContactOut (Chrome extension that extracts emails on LinkedIn), Findthat.email, and Voilanorbert.
Crafting email templates + outreach
When you have already found all necessary information, it is time to craft personalized email templates and send the messages. I advise you make the process easier and more automated with Buzzstream tool. It allows you not just create templates and send the messages but track the progress of each outreach campaign you run.
I am sure that even if you use only these two link-building strategies, you will get matters off the ground!
Well, to conclude, this post reveals you the basics of SEO and tactics of growing your traffic even if you don’t know how to. As you can see, the process of website optimization is not the thing that you can accomplish in a short period of time. It is an ongoing process that you must control daily.
I am sure that these eight steps will help you make your online business lucrative and successful at some point.
Don’t forget to leave your comments and share this piece of content on your social accounts.
Author’s bio: Sergey Aliokhin is a Marketing Manager at Ahrefs. Apart from working at Ahrefs, he likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings. Don’t hesitate to contact him.
Send me periodic emails with news, software updates, and invitations to events.