If you are looking to increase organic traffic to your website, you will need to show up on top of the Google search results heap.
The first 30 positions (pages 1,2,3) of Google’s search results is considered as prime real estate, and should notice an increase in organic traffic to your website when your search results show up in these first 30 positions. Anything further down the search heap, and those organic search results will be negligible.
Those first 30 positions are in high demand. It’s like every car in your neighborhood descending on the the 2 parking spots in your driveway. How can you squeeze hundreds or even thousands of cars into a two car driveway?
Space is finite – both for your driveway and Google’s prime real estate. With Google, we’re competing with hundreds of thousands, and sometimes tens of millions to get to those to search results pages.
Go ahead and try it for yourself. Search for something esoteric…
“how to eat iguana eggs” – 5.9 million search results. Who would have thought – 5.9 million search results for something like that?
“How to shave a guinea pig” – 1.4 million. It seems insane. There are 1.4 million links vying for those top 30 spots. It’s not like your driveway, where maybe you can squeeze in a few extra cars. 30 is it!
And as I mentioned before, it’s those top 30 positions that are the major factors behind increasing the organic traffic to your website.
The Organic Traffic Challenge Is On
Even though it seems impossible to reach Google’s top search results pages, it is feasible – I and many others have their listings there.
Let me share:
- A personal case study (case study #1), showing you the facts why many of my posts show up on Google’s Page 1 for their keyword terms
- Another case study (case study #2), showing how to creatively increase organic traffic.
- A third case study (case study #3), showing you a major organic traffic increase by implementing traditional SEO best practice.
Case Study #1 – My Personal Case Study
Firstly, log out of Google (or open an Incognito window in Chrome), and enter the search phrase (without quotes) “how to design a good squeeze page“.
You should get similar search results as shown in the image above.
You should notice the high competition –
8.9 million (2020 revision – 60.9 million) and my post positions in entry #4 on Page 1 (2020 revision – page 2 position 6). Now try this search term: “How To Create An Email Course”. And then this one: “How to optimize your Twitter Account”. If you want, try these two other search terms: “how to use linkedin groups to drive website traffic” and “automate google plus to twitter”.
In all these examples, the competition is extremely fierce, but my posts are on Page 1 for their respective search terms. The net result – increased organic traffic to my site.
Not that I’m trying to toot my horn (perhaps just a little), but my analytics indicate organic traffic now accounts for roughly 50% of my total traffic. That’s free traffic – Traffic that seems more natural that PPC traffic.
Seeing SEO best practices was responsible for helping my posts score high on Google, lets take a quick look at “How Google Ranks Your Post”.
The Google 200 SEO Ranking Factors
Google uses more than 200 ranking factors to rank your post. The details are closely guarded by Google. However, through expert opinion, speculation, testing, and common sense, we know that these Ranking Factors are loosely categorized into on-page and off-page criteria.
The image below, shows you the 34 top ranking factors in 2 major SEO groups. For the complete details of the 200 ranking criteria please take a look at Google’s Ranking Factors – A Complete List.
Even though all 200 factors are important, it’s the highest ranking factors that are of interest to me (indicated with a +3). I believe some of them played a major role in ranking my blog posts high on Google. I also believe they are responsible for the high rankings in the other 3rd party cases that I will show you.
- Content Quality: Google has echoed it’s sentiments about content quality many times. Content needs to be helpful, well organized, unique, fresh, relevant, and contextually brilliant.
- Content Research: Common sense tells you that article references need to be credible and trustworthy. Outbound link references should link to only reputable, high quality sites.
- HTML Titles: Accurate article titles give your audience a positive experience. They should be 100% relevant to article content. The article title typically includes the primary keyword phrase.
- Architecture Crawl: Google has mentioned on many occasions that site crawlability is imperative. They indexes only what they can access and see.
- Link Quality: Inbound links should originate from sites that are credible and have an excellent reputation.
- Personal Country: Back links from the same country that you are hosting, seem to carry more weight than a link coming from another country.
- Personal Locality: Dishing up results that are local are deemed far more helpful than general, global results.
- Personal History: Your domain needs to have a clean bill of health and jail free.
So, back to my personal case study…
There were common characteristics with my high ranking blog posts. Here they are plus a few observations:
1. High Quality Articles
Even though it’s subjective, I like to think my articles are high quality.
With each article:
- The content objective is introduced near the top of the article – usually within the first 150 words. I typically use the primary keyword search phrase within the introduction. Take for example this article: “How to increase organic traffic to your website”. The partial keyword search term shows up around the 21st word in the introduction paragraph.
- It’s written towards a specific objectives, with substance to support the content topic.
- No spelling mistakes (at least I hope not)
- The content ‘speaks’ so traditional grammar rules are not adhered too. Google can probably grade content through various tests like Flesh- Kincaid. The content is also written for people (not a search engine. However, each blog post is fined tuned with SEO best practices.
- Headings, sub headings, white space, and multi media are part of a purposeful structure, making the content easier to digest.
- The length is varied. Article length is a heavily debated topic in the SEO community. Even Matt Cutts of Google has negative sentiments about articles that are a only a few hundred words. However, I strongly feel that article length (at least my articles) is not an indicator of quality. My articles range from 400 words to more than 2,000 words, and rank equally as well. If article length was a major factor, my 458 word posts would not rank well in Google.
2. High On Page Dwell Time
The average session duration time for high ranking pages is greater than 3 minutes per page. Some pages are as high as 9 minutes, while others are as low as 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Videos help increase dwell time. They help supplement the content too.
- Relevant external reference links that open in new windows may also contribute to an increased dwell time.
3. On Page Images
- At least 2 images per article.
- Each image on the page has a unique ALT tag.
- Each ALT tag contains my keyword phrase.
4. Social Engagement
- I would love to say that comments on posts have a lot to do with high rankings. But that’s does not seem to be the case in my situation. In fact, one of my high ranking posts has zero comments. However, my other high ranking posts have on average 18 comments, and 50% of those comments belong to me (responses).
- All of my high ranking posts had at least one Google Plus share. The share did not necessarily belong to other people. In one situation one high ranking post had one share, and that share belonged to me – sharing from my Google Business Page to my Google Personal Profile. More on this in backlinks.
- All of my high ranking posts had at least 4 Pinterest repins. Similar to Google, at least one of those Pins belonged to me. More on this in backlinks.
- Each high ranking posts are Tweeted at least 4 times every 30 days. More on this in backlinks.
- Each high ranking article had at least 28 backlinks spread over 10 domains.
- Some of those backlinks belong to me, where I posted the original article on social sites, such as: Soop.it, Google +, and Pinterest. They were then shared multiple times by people, who were not necessarily considered influential.
- Some of those backlinks were also created by me as CommentLuv comments on various blogger sites. The sites I leave comments, are mostly considered influential sites, but not always the case.
6. The Keyword
- Each blog post has been uniquely optimized with a single keyword phrase.
- My Titles contains the keyword phrase of the specific article.
- Usually my keyword phrase is found within the first 150 words of each of the posts.
- My keyword density does not seem to be a factor – generally under 1%. That usually equates to the keyword phrase appearing only once or twice in the article.
7. Other Characteristics
There many other characteristics that may or may not have an impact on Google search engine rankings. These are a few observations about my website.
- Website response would not be something to write home about. My domain has a 78/100 desktop and a 60/100 mobile rating, which is considered nothing more than ‘a reasonable’ user experience. Check your PageSpeed Insights.
- My site is technically sound. Google’s Webmaster Central shows no obvious errors, nothing malicious, and down time is minimal.
- Website has a professional look and feel (I know this is a subjective call), and the navigation is relatively straightforward.
- No advertising, SPAM, or penalization.
Case Study #2 – The Guestographics Method
The Guestographics method is creative and practical method for obtaining these backlinks.
In this case study, Brian Dean of BanklinkO used the Guestographics method to obtain authoritative backlinks for his client and move his them from position #6 to #1 in Google within 1 week. Simply put, the process he used:
- He created a high quality Infographic for his client.
- Compiled a list of authoritative sites in that niche that would benefit from the Infographic.
- He made the site owners of the authoritative sites aware of the Infographic (no hard sell).
- Created an ethical bride for the site owners to host the Infographic.
- He guest published the Infographic, with a unique introduction on each authoritative site, which also included a contextual link back to his clients site.
The natural result of being in position 1 on Google is increased organic traffic.
Once again, relevant and authoritative backlinks demonstrate the importance of obtaining organic traffic.
Case Study #3 – Gawker Media With SEO Best Practices
In this case study, Neil Patal shows how he drove an extra 5 million [organic] page views to his client, Gawker Media, within a 3 month period, using SEO best practices.His strategy was broken into 5 distinct steps (or techniques, as he likes to call them):
Step 1: A site optimization was performed. New sitemaps were generated. Appropriate keywords were assigned to title tags. Pagenation was fixed. Blog post headings were made keyword rich.
Step 2: Focused on article structure, internal cross linking of content, and anchor text within the links.
Step 3: Documents were made 100% unique, each with a unique meta descriptions; And all unimportant content was flagged with the “No-Follow” attribute.
Step 4: Images were optimized by renaming image files, giving a description to the ALT tag, and compressing images for quicker load time.
Step 5: Fixed up coding and infrastructure inefficiencies. Proper caching. Fixed Javascipts, HTML, and CSS.
If you are interested in the case details, please take a look at the Gawker Media Case Study.
Wrapping It Up
There are many case studies that show a direct correlation between ranking well in the search engines, and an increase in organic website traffic. It is however, extremely difficult to establish which ranking factors are responsible for the rankings – there is no way to isolate each factor to perform tests.
You will have a better chance of ranking well in the search engines if you follow SEO best practices. Keep in mind, that the search engine ranking criteria are constantly changing. What works today, may not work tomorrow.
The only sensible solution to rank well on the search engines is to focus on what you can control:
- Establish a practical digital marketing budget
- Produce high quality articles that are relevant to your audience.
- Make sure your outbound reference links point to credible and relevant sources.
- Link your articles to relevant internal posts and pages.
- Make sure your infrastructure is fine tuned to deliver the content as quick as possible.
- Have a solid presence on social media.
- Develop blogger relationships.
- Don’t use any underhanded techniques
…and leave the rest up Google and the other search engines.
Ready to increase organic traffic to your website? Find out more about optimizing your website to generate more organic traffic for more relevant business leads? Take a look at our approach to SEO.