If anyone tries to tell you building organic traffic is easy, don’t listen to them. If you’re looking for a quick fix, I’m afraid you’re not going to find it here. Building organic traffic is the hardest work you’ll ever put in to your website. With that being said, it’s also the greatest investment of time and effort you can make.
In the days of Facebook promoted posts and Google AdWords, the instant gratification of shelling out a few bucks for immediate traffic is highly appealing. But it’s not sustainable. You’ll get traffic now, but what happens when you stop paying? Will your content ever be found again?
Organic traffic means the content you put on your website today will drive traffic tomorrow, next month, next year, and probably even several years from now. That’s why it’s worth the effort. You don’t see that kind of ROI from paid traffic.
When it comes to getting more organic traffic there are good ways and there are better ways. There are also some downright awful ways that should be avoided at all costs. I will touch on all of these in more detail. If you’re ready to put the work in and increase your organic traffic the right way, these are the things you need to start doing.
Create The Best Content You Possibly Can
Creating content for the sake of creating content, because you heard publishing regular articles is good for SEO, won’t get you very far. It fact it may even cause a lot of damage to your reputation.
Your website is a representation of your business. In a lot of cases it’s the first impression a potential customer may have of your business.
Just as you wouldn’t deliver a sub-par product or service you shouldn’t be publishing low quality blog posts. It’s not unreasonable to suggest you should write the best content you possibly can every time you publish something.
I’m a big fan of Scott Stratten (author of UnMarketing) because he never seems to say anything that I disagree with. Here’s a great quote from his podcast about blogging that relates to this point:
Me demanding the best content you can write should not be intimidating, it should not be paralyzing. It should be the minimum that when you write something you look at it and go: “Yes! That’s what I wanted to say!”
What does this have to do with increasing organic traffic?
Well it just so happens that search engines are almost as good as people at being able to tell when you’re phoning in your content. Great quality content ranks better, which in turn drives more organic traffic. It’s also the kind of content people will want to like to in their blogs and share with other people.
So give it everything you’ve got before hitting the ‘Publish’ button.
Grab The Low-Hanging Fruit
Everyone wants to rank for those broad two or three word key phrases because they tend to have high search volumes. The problem with these broad key phrases is they are highly competitive. So competitive that you may not stand a chance of ranking for them unless you devote months of your time to it. Instead of spending your time going after something that may not even be attainable, go after the low-hanging fruit of long-tail key phrases.
For example, if you’re an SEO agency don’t bother trying to rank for the term “SEO agency.” Chances are you’ll never knock out the heavyweights that already rank for that term. Instead, narrow it down a bit more. Be more specific by including the area you serve. For example: “SEO agency in Albuquerque NM“.
You could get even more specific by narrowing it down to customer base. Is there a specific group of clients you tend to serve? Try including that in your long-tail key phrase. For example: “SEO agency for non-profits in Albuquerque NM.” That’s a key phrase you’re a lot more likely to rank for. Not to mention it will also attract way more targeted, organic traffic than a broad key phrase like “SEO agency.”
Long-tail key phrases more closely resemble what an actual user would type into a search engine. As users perform searches more like they would verbalize a question, studies have shown long-tail key phrases are driving results due to greater relevancy and less competition.
Try not to get too caught up in what certain studies will tell you are the best days and times to publish a blog post. Just try to be consistent.
Aim for once a week at minimum. Ideally the more the better, but if you’re running a business at the same time it’s difficult to publish more often than that without hiring writers.
Search engines love frequently updated sites. But more important than that, users do. A site that’s updated consistently tells users you’re serious about providing good content, which makes it worth it for them to invest their time into reading it.
Consistent updates keep people coming back, which keeps them sharing your content, linking to it, and telling others about it. These are all signals that help boost organic traffic.
Guest Blog For Traffic, Not SEO
As Matt Cutts has said, guest blogging for SEO is dead. It’s done. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.
Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.
It also has the value of the traffic that comes from being published on a high authority site. Having said that, there are some best practices to keep in mind when guest posting:
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Aim for authoritative websites with high quality content and decent traffic numbers.
- Guest blog on websites within your own niche. Guest posting on a popular websites means little if you’re not reaching your ideal audience.
- Promote your guest posts as you would your own posts. This shows the other website you really value the opportunity to post on their blog.
- Check back regularly and respond to comments. Ideally you want their visitors to become your visitors. Responding to comments is a great way to get that relationship started.
Speaking of Matt Cutts and Google, this leads me to my next point…
Don’t Anger Google
Making Google angry is like biting the hand that feeds you. Unfortunately some SEOs still like to test the limits of what they can and can’t get away with. Increasing organic traffic should always be done ethically, or you will get hit with a Google penalty sooner or later.
Here are some tips for avoiding those penalties:
- Don’t build cheap links.
- Don’t ever, ever pay for inbound links.
- Don’t use exact-match anchor text.
- Don’t publish low quality, scraped, or stolen content.
- Do publish awesome content that’s helpful to users.
Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.
I’ve always been a believer that hard work gets the best results, and in practice it always ends up being true. On the web it’s no different. If you want more organic traffic, you have to work for it. That means giving your best effort every time, going after opportunities your competitors have missed, being consistent, guest blogging strategically, and staying on Google’s good side.
If you have any thoughts or questions about building organic traffic, or would like to agree/disagree with anything I wrote, please leave a comment! I just joined the Positionly team and I’d love to get to know the community here a bit better.
by Matt Southern