In order for your business to be successful, you’ve got to have a great website. That’s a given. But in order for it really go the distance, it’s got to be seen by people when they search the internet, it has to hold their interest and it has to motivate them to take the next big step and engage with you, so you can convert them into customers and clients.
So, how exactly do you do this? Through a variety of ways, from making sure your website features well-crafted informative content to using data to understand what people are looking for and how they search when they visit your site. Basically, an optimized website requires left-brained, or analytic thinking, and a little right-brained creativity, too.
Why not start the year off by making sure your website is set up for success in 2020? Below, is our top nine ways to increase organic traffic to your website and get it to rank at the top of search engines.
Make it secure.
We covered this back in February of 2019, but the fact is, many websites still do not have an SSL certificate, which assures visitors that there’s a secure socket layer which makes it a “secure” website. In 2018, Google announced that websites that did not carry an SSL certificate would be penalized. These sites would not rank as high (or at all) in search engines.
Google tends to give fair warning when they announce changes (which isn’t often) and although some sites still haven’t invested in the SSL certificate (which isn’t difficult to install or pricy), it’s safe to say that at this point, Google is starting to penalize these websites. So, having a fully secured site will help you rank higher than your competitors who still do not have an SSL certificate, and it also establishes credibility to your customers and clients.
Make it mobile responsive.
You may remember when, about five years ago, it became essential to have a mobile version of your website. The same remains true today, but now, the mobile site you launched back in the day is so critical to SEO that it’s actually even more important than your website’s desktop version for SEO because of Google’s new “mobile first” indexing.
There are a variety of types of mobile sites – some are dynamic while others have a separate URL, but responsive mobile sites are what Google recommends because they work best for Google indexing. And the easier Google can index your site, the better its chances of ranking higher on the search engine.
Feature great, original content
Yes, content is still king, and for many reasons. Engaging, meaningful content can increase the time users spend on your site, which lowers bounce rate and can lead to more conversions. Great content can easily be shared on your business’s social media sites and on other websites, thus building backlinks.
When coming up with content for your site, make sure that it’s providing your customers with something useful – even educational (you’re experiencing this right now as you read this article!). You’ll want to update your site with new content on a regular basis.
A word about length: long-form content is still extremely valuable, but don’t be afraid to share shorter articles, lists, videos, and photo-rich articles as well.
Don’t be afraid of data
Let’s say you’re ready to add new content to your website but have no clue what topics to cover – or maybe you want to add a new page about a service or product you offer but don’t know if it’s necessary. How do you know what people looking at your website want? This is where Google Analytics (GA) comes in.
Your website can – and should – be linked to GA to at least track user engagement, page views, bounce rate, and to track conversions. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see what pages are visited the most, and how people interact once they “land” on a page.
To some, GA can at first be a little daunting. But once you start tinkering around and get the hang of how it’s set up, it can be pretty fascinating and can give you a tremendous amount of information that you can use to attract more customers.
Do a competitor analysis
There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, but let’s face it, in order to rank higher in search engines than your competitors it helps to take what your competitors do to have an online presence – and do it even better.
Competitor analysis isn’t that difficult to do (and don’t worry, it’s not sketchy!). In fact, all it takes sometimes is a visit to their websites to know what you can do differently for a leg up. More advanced analysis involves using Google to perform a keyword and content audit, as well as a peek into how your competitors are building backlinks. You may be able to do this all this on your own, but we recommend downloading Moz’s free template to get you started.
Do a metadata check-in
This is a good time to double check your metadata to make sure your title tags and descriptions are the best they can be. Google recently said that there are no fixed lengths for snippets but still, they should be concise enough to fit within Google’s general parameters of about 120 characters for mobile searches and about 158 characters for desktop searches.
Check your (mobile) site speed
Google now considers site speed a major ranking factor for mobile websites. Simply put, the faster your mobile site loads the better it’s chances of ranking high in SERP. Luckily, if your site loads slow on mobile devices, it’s typically a quick fix. There are a number of websites that will test your website’s speed, and we recommend starting here.
Gain quality backlinks
Backlinks have gotten a bad rap over the years, after Google cracked down on websites using “black hat” methods to gain them, thereby increasing organic traffic to their websites in a less than stand-up way. But backlinks are still very important and incredibly helpful in leveraging visibility for your website. They can also take time to get. So, how do you get started? First, write and published informative, sharable content from your website. Once it gets shared, with a link to your site, viola! That’s a backlink. And it’s organic traffic gold.
You could also consider stepping up your public relations and making connections with people in your industry. If you’re an interior designer, for example, reach out to real estate agents and send them your content that they can, in turn, share it on their website. Infographics are another way to build backlinks.
Remember, whatever you do, keep it natural. Backlink building is about creating connections that enhance your company’s reputation.
Design your website with UX in mind
If you don’t know how easy (or difficult ) it is for visitors to find what they need on your website, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. As a general rule, your website’s design should be refreshed every three years or so. In fact, up to 40% of people will leave your website immediately if they don’t like the way it looks.
Well-designed, clean and easy-to-navigate websites build credibility, and there are easy ways to enhance the quality of your website without spending a lot of money, thanks to platforms like WordPress. First, make sure the content on your site is current and include very clear calls to action. Also, check your site’s architecture and make sure it’s easy to navigate.
Lastly, your website needs to load quickly. If you’re still trying to put everything-but-the-kitchen sink on your home page, including video and a rotating slideshow, it’s time to simplify. The slower your site loads, the easier it will be for users to simple give up and visit another website.
With a just a little effort, you can make sure your website is completely optimized so it goes the distance. Remember: people who arrive at your website through an organic search are usually very motivated to learn more about your product or business. Don’t let the opportunity to build your business organically pass you by.