How to Increase Website TrafficHow to
The leading indicator of the popularity and overall performance of any website is its amount of traffic. Correctly optimized sites with an effective semantic core, gripping content and the right promotion strategy are guaranteed to get into the top positions in Google search results. Let’s figure out the stages you need to follow when you start off SEO optimization on your site.
1. Solving Technical Issues
Your website is created for both users and search engines. Users evaluate your website by its content, search engines by content, and other numerous technical aspects. Let's look at the key ones in turn:
- Availability for search engines
- Loading speed
- Broken links and duplicate pages
- Mobile version
1.1. Availability for Search Engines
Getting started, make sure your site is indexed and added to Google Search Console. There you can track website performance, check if your site's pages are open for indexing, and see the pages how Googlebot sees them using ‘URL inspection’ tool.
Also, give a look at your robots.txt file. It’s a common case when webmasters instruct robots not to crawl some pages, forget about it, and feel desperate looking for issues in some other places.
In Netpeak Spider, you can crawl websites following the same crawling instructions that you set for Google bots.
To do so, go to ‘Advanced’ settings and tick the ‘Robots.txt’ item.
1.2. Improve Page Speed
Google takes into account the loading speed of pages when indexing them since it really cares about serving content to the users with all possible haste. If it takes an eternity for your website to load, it may lead to high bounce rates (users click on your website and quickly bounce back in the SERP) and drops in ranking since robots will act the same way – open your site, yawn, and decide not to waste time on crawling your lame site.
Here are things that can pull your website back:
- Too many redirects. Redirects take additional time for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete thus lowering the loading speed.
- Images as one of your main foes. Compress the image files, choose the right image format – .png is the best fit, and optimize alt texts – Google ‘reads’ them, so add additional value to them.
Analyze website loading speed with Google PageSpeed Insights. This is an example of a slow website:
Also, you can check the loading speed in Netpeak Spider.
- Choose the 'Response time' parameter, which displays the corresponding value for each URL on your site, and the 'Content download time' parameter, which displays the download time of each URL of your site.
- And see which pages are loading slowly in the ‘Reports’ tab or on the dashboard.
1.3. Say No to Broken Links and Duplicate Pages
Ideally, you have to provide updated and original content. However, when you try to put it in practice, you realize that fully unique content is an inaccessible myth. Inevitably, you face duplicates.
So why should you avoid duplicate pages? When Google bots crawl duplicate pages, they are confused which page is the ‘source’ one and what which to index. To tackle this issue, use the rel= "canonical" tag. Canonicalization helps Google to understand what pages are preferred for indexing. Imagine that you say, ‘Hey, don’t index this page, go and index that one!’
Broken links are
a pain in the ass another gross issue. This is a nasty that leads you to nonexistent webpage, file, or image. In this case, the server returns 404 or 410 response codes. Usually, you see blank pages with a 404 error, but it’s a right tone to spruce up such pages to smooth the user’s experience. Even if you failed to find what you looked for, this cutie would amuse you at least for a while.
Checks for broken pages are a kind of daily rut for webmasters. Do it quickly and automatically with Netpeak Spider.
1.4. Mobile Version
Over half of web traffic comes from mobiles. SimilarWeb research shows that mobile traffic is on the rise while desktop traffic is dramatically decreasing. That’s why Google urges websites to have a user-friendly mobile version. Google made it clear that mobile-friendly pages are a priority over non-mobile-friendly pages, and mobile-first indexing means that Google chiefly fetches the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
Here are some of Google’s word-of-mouth recommendations:
- Configure the responsive design. Your mobile template should adapt to any device and screen size. All graphic elements, links, and function buttons should work correctly.
To check your website for mobile-friendliness, take Mobile-Friendly Test.
2. Optimizing Semantic Core
The semantic core is a set of words and phrases that reflect the subject and structure of the site. Think about the semantic core before starting any SEO activity on the website, and try to ask the global question: is my content relevant to users’ intent, and why is it relevant? Determine what search queries users are looking for. Basically, there are five search query types:
- Informational. A searcher needs information such as ‘who is the president of the USA’, ‘how old is Emma Watson’, etc.
- Navigational. A searcher wants to visit a specific website or place on the Internet. The query looks like ‘netpeaksoftware’, or ‘Facebook’.
- Transactional. A user wants more interaction on your website, wants to complete a transaction (to purchase something), for instance, ‘tickets for Joker movie’.
- Commercial. The opposite to the informational one. A person looks for the name of a product, compares brands or checks the prices.
- Local query. A searcher wants to find something near them, such as a cafe, doctor, parking lot, etc.
The semantic core of a site can be of various sizes, like small lists of keywords, for example, 10-100, and tens and hundreds of thousands of keywords. It solely depends on the website size. To compose the semantic core for your site, you need to select keywords thoroughly, and then distribute them across the site. It’s one of the key features of the Serpstat service.
The semantic core usually comprises high-frequency and low-frequency queries. It’s a common mistake to pump up the semantic core only with high-frequency keywords. There’re two reasons:
- it may be tough to rank in the highly competitive niche (for instance, your competitor is Amazon, God bless you)
- you promote in a very specific narrowly focused niche, and you understand the aspects of the offered product / service, then low-frequency queries will help you to get the audience
To compose a semantic core, you need to determine the main areas needed to be promoted – next, select the keywords. If the site is large, then collecting keywords can take you awhile. Use such services as Serpstat, Keycollector, etc.
The next step is clustering of the semantic core. Group your keywords based on the analysis of search results from Google and other services. Clustering helps save time, divide keywords into groups, and avoid keyword stuffing on one page.
3. Optimizing Content
How well does the current content of the website meet the target audience’s needs? Users should benefit from reading your content. It must be unique, relevant, and well structured.
Start with text optimization. Put the main keywords you rank for in the crucial places: title, description, and h1. Keywords should be placed naturally. Otherwise, search engines will perceive this as excessive spam, and lower your rating or, even worse, impose a penalty for spammy content. Apart from being punished for spammy content, you can be stung for thin content issues. Google created a Panda algorithm to guard those who abuse lousy quality content.
Duplicate content is another sin Google can go mad at. As we’ve mentioned, duplicates are identical or semi-identical content within one or several domains. Sometimes, the reason for duplicate content lies beyond obvious copy-pasting. It may be some technical issues such as incorrectly set redirects from HTTP to HTTPs, additional get-parameters and UTMs in the URL, changes in website structure, etc.
Structure your text. The text dismantled into headings (h1-h3), paragraphs, and lists is consumed easily by people and search engines.
Proceed with image optimization. As of yet, search bots can’t understand image content but do understand the text written in the alternative text (ALT). This text also displays when the picture is broken or unavailable for some other reason.
Do competitive content analysis, it’ll provide you insights on what missed optimization opportunities you can take to improve your content, see what competitor’s pages drive traffic, and what keywords they rank for. To see your competitor’s top pages, go to Serpstat.
4. Off-Page Optimization
Backlinks are the focal point of off-page SEO. These are hyperlinks from other sites, blogs, and social networks to the pages on your website. Backlinks work as the vouches for your content’s quality across the broad internet scape. There are three types of backlinks:
- ‘Natural’ links are editorially given when someone likes your content and wants to share it.
- Manual links are part of link-building activities. Creating good content goes at inception, the next step is to amplify it throughout the web. It implies an agreement with the owners of other sites on the placement of links to your website.
- Self-created links. Google frowns upon such links and considers them the part of black hat practices.
Apart from link building, there is non-link-related off-site SEO. It includes:
- Social media marketing – any social platform like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is a vast number of potential visitors or customers for your site. Social activity is guaranteed to attract a new audience and build brand awareness.
- Guest blogging – contributing to blogs in your niche is one of the best ways to speak directly to your target audience.
- Linked and unlinked brand mentions – also builds brand awareness.
- Influencer marketing – brand promotion via the influencer / opinion leader in your field.
5. How to Track Changes
After the optimization process is completed, you should measure whether the implemented changes bring tangible results. What metrics should you focus on at the outset?
- Engagement – the metric that tracks visitors' behavior once they reach your website. It includes:
- conversion rate – the number of conversions (end goals) completed per one visit. It can be anything you define as a goal: subscription, purchase, sign up, etc.
- time on page – the time users spend on page. This metric is tailored to each business individually. If you have a blog with a long sheet of texts, 10 seconds on page is a bad sign for your blog.
- bounce rate – indicates the number of sessions when a person visited your site and shortly after ‘bounced’ back to the search results.
- click depth – if you have an online store, your goal is to bring people deeper (into the categories / subcategories, etc.), this metric makes sense for you.
- Traffic – gauge how much traffic you get from organic search.
How to gauge all these metrics and get traffic insights? First, you can use Google Analytics data to get detailed statistics. It is one of the most effective ways to evaluate your optimization efforts. Here’re some basic things you can track in GA:
- Traffic to your site over time – you can see total users / pageviews / sessions during a specified date range.
- Click-through rate (CTR) – this is the percent of people who clicked on your page in the search results. To track any activity or specific triggers on your website, deploy tracking pixels via Google Tag Manager tool.
- Traffic from a particular campaign. For instance, Black Friday is nearing and you want to track the overall conversions made during this campaign. If so, you’ll probably need UTM (urchin tracking module) that you cling on to the end of URL.
To Wrap It Up
Hope this hefty chapter gave you a gist of what the website optimization process looks like. Check it every time until it becomes a daily rut for you, and dive deeper in details to sharpen up your act.
The most critical aspects of increasing traffic are:
- Technical performance of your site – the ‘shadow’ side of your website that establishes the whole game rules
- Loading speed – deliver information lightning-fast and you won’t see your audience leave you for your competitors
- Semantic core – cluster keywords to precisely define the idea and theme of your site
- Website content – should be relevant, concise with a moderate number of keywords, and sufficiently covered topics
- Off-page SEO activities – go beyond the realm of your website to build brand awareness and drive audience
- Measure your optimization efforts – track the implemented changes to see whether your efforts bring tangible results