Most business owners understand that search traffic is important. But simply having a website doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get visitors from search engines. If you want to increase search traffic to your site, you have to play The Game.
We think of SEO as a game because it has so many unpredictable moving parts, and you have to be ready to adapt your strategy. It requires concentration and skill, and there might even be an airship involved if you travel to an SEO conference.
Although SEO tactics keep changing as search engine algorithms get smarter, there’s a core set of techniques that have consistently helped websites rank well. Here are 10 SEO strategies you can use to stay optimized and drive valuable search traffic.
SEO Strategies for More Search Traffic
As you explore these and other SEO tactics, remember that the priority should always be to put your audience first. Creating awesome content and maintaining a great user experience will get you far. Going overboard on keywords or buying links, on the other hand, won’t help your website grow – and can result in your site getting de-indexed, which takes a long time to fix if Google ever lets you back into the game!
1. Keywords and search intent
Keyword strategy has changed a lot in the last five years. Although having a target phrase or keywords is still important for your pages and posts, where you put them and how search engines use them is different.
Repeating the exact phrasing multiple times, aka ‘keyword stuffing’, is no longer the way to capture searches – and if your content does that, it will quickly plummet in rankings. Google and other search engines now assess search intent, and can understand synonyms and casual conversation (voice searches) just as well as fixed phrasing that exactly matches a search.
Think about who you want to capture, and what they’re trying to accomplish. Use combinations of specific keywords and phrasing that your audience would use in that search. For the actual keywords, the best places to use them are:
- In the URL
- In the page or post title
- In headings (especially H1 and H2 styling, which indicates key content)
- In the first paragraph of your copy
- In your meta description
- In the ALT text of any images on the page
2. Fresh, quality content (E-A-T)
The ‘set it and forget it’ mindset toward business websites is harmful, because search engines like fresh content. They also favour longer, quality content that demonstrates your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
You don’t have to update your pages every day (and that would drive your customers nuts!). It’s a good habit to review your site’s content once a year and make edits for new SEO practices. But the best way to keep your site fresh and increase search traffic is to have a company blog or case studies area. Publishing one helpful, optimized article each month can drive great results.
3. User experience
Google is the superpower for searches because it delivers highly relevant results at warp speed. That’s why Google places so much weight on high quality websites – it wants people to be satisfied.
What contributes to a great user experience? Fast, secure websites with pages that load without errors, have great grammar, are easy to read (incorporating page layout and styling to break up copy), and deliver relevant content that answers the query. You can learn everything you need to know about how people engage with your website from Google Analytics dashboards, and we also like heatmap tools like Hotjar.
4. Security and technical SEO
Another factor that search engines consider important is your site’s security. Google doesn’t want to send people to a website that will compromise their data. That’s why most browsers give visitors a warning if the site they’re about to visit is unsafe (has an HTTP protocol, vs. HTTPS which is secure). Sites with multiple broken pages (404 errors), redirect chains and loops, and problems within the site code are also not going to rank well.
We recommend dedicated hosting on a secure cloud server, regular website maintenance, and SEO audits to stay on top of your site’s technical health.
5. Mobile friendliness
If your site isn’t mobile friendly by now, search engines are definitely not taking you seriously. Your site needs to render well on any device, with easily readable text and buttons that can be clicked or tapped with minimal effort.
The good news is that fast, mobile-friendly websites are more affordable now than ever. All Anvil websites are designed (and tested) for cross-device usability.
6. Link structure
Links play a big role in how search engines assess your E-A-T. If you want to increase search traffic, understanding and improving your link structure is one of the best ways to do it. There are three kinds of links to analyze.
The most valuable of all are backlinks – those from other websites pointing to yours. Getting your pages or posts featured on high-quality websites borrows their SEO ‘juice’ because the link tells Google that they trust you and think you’re awesome.
Internal links are important to help your site be crawled. ‘Orphaned pages’ are those with no links from any other page on your site pointing to them, and this can tell a crawler that they’re an accident or not important. That’s why it’s good practice to link to related content within your own site.
Outbound links help search engines understand what your content is about through the linked text and the destination URL. The added benefit is that the other business can see your website as a referral source in their Google Analytics, and might thank you by sharing your article on social media or reaching out for a collaboration.
7. Image optimization
Your copy isn’t the only part of the page that gets crawled by those search engine bots. Image optimization is often overlooked, which makes it a great way to give your site a competitive edge. All it takes are correctly sized files (for fast page loads) and optimized attributes.
Make sure to rename your images from their default file name, including the focus keywords of that page if possible. Add ALT text to each image that also includes the keywords if they make sense with the picture. ALT text is what screen readers use to describe a photo to someone with vision impairment, so adding copy here will improve the user experience for those people. Don’t forget to optimize the titles and descriptions of videos and audio tracks, too!
We suggest implementing a CDN service (such as Cloudflare) to speed things up by hosting the images off your site. Most CDN services optimize your images to low file sizes, with much faster delivery.
8. NAP and local SEO
Local SEO is its own game. You’re competing to rank in those ‘near me’ searches, and to get into the local pack – the three businesses that appear on the map and will get the most clicks. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business and you want to increase search traffic, you need solid local SEO.
- Claim business listings like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor
- Ensure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is 100% accurate in all online listings – your website footer, contact page, Google Business, social profiles
- Add more citations by getting your business listed in local directories and apps, such as Bing and Apple Maps and the Better Business Bureau
- Reviews! Reviews play a huge part in local ranking, so encourage reviews in person and by sending out links to your Google, Yelp, and Facebook pages
9. Social signals
Social signals are the information search engines gather from your social media presence. Your number of likes and followers won’t impact your ranking on their own, don’t worry. But having an active social presence, community engagement, and of course accurate business details in your social profiles are things search engines consider.
Other ways social media can improve your position is through lots of people sharing your content on their own social channels, and by the words you use in your bios and posts. Google will show relevant company pages and tweets in search results.
10. Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are another quick-and-easy way to increase search traffic which too many businesses ignore. A meta description is the copy that appears in search results under your page or post title.
Although meta descriptions aren’t major ranking factors themselves, this copy is crucial to your click-through rate. Think of the title as the hook, and the meta description is your one chance to change a scroll into a click. You want enticing copy that distinguishes your content from the rest, and really sells someone on why you’re the best search result.
These are our top picks to increase search traffic, but SEO is a challenging game that keeps you on your toes. What works today might not be a ranking factor tomorrow, so it’s important to keep an eye on industry trends. There are lots of free digital marketing courses that can help you feel confident in analyzing your site’s SEO health.