If you have a product you’re really proud of, it should speak for itself. But when it comes down to it, you still need to get customers on your website in the first place — especially if you’re running an e-commerce operation.
We asked a panel of 13 successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice for generating high-quality, organic search traffic to their business websites. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Focus on the Long Tail
If you are a new site, it can be difficult to go after popular keywords right away. I find it better to write many quality articles on very specific keywords than to go after the ones with more search traffic. A great benefit of staying focused with long-tail key terms is that they usually convert better, as well. To help with this, I recommend a tool called HitTail, which drives targeted search visitors to your website by focusing on the most promising organic keywords in your existing traffic.
2. Stick Around
The longer you are in business and producing quality online content, the more likely you are to pop up in search results for all related keywords. Starting a blog or churning out a bunch of articles is all fine and good, but keeping those activities going for years as opposed to months (or weeks) makes a huge difference.
3. Optimize Your Articles
There are three main ingredients to a successfully optimized web page or article: your meta title, description and keywords. This is such a simple thing to fill out when you’re publishing a piece of content on your site, so take the time to do it each time, and you’ll start to rank for your keywords much faster.
4. Don’t Forget About (Ethical) Link Building
Keyword-embedded links are the foundation of off-page search engine optimization. The best part is that links can be free. Just ask vendors, partners, press, clients, your alma mater and any other credible source that you interact with to embed hyperlinked keywords back to your site for the terms that you are targeting. If the referring source has a high page rank, you should see a pop in your rankings in less than two months of them being published.
5. Use Google’s Keyword Tool
Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find long-tail keywords that are not as competitive, then structure some content around those. If you are in a competitive niche, this is a way you can start building up some small recurring traffic and engage your users.
6. Provide Amazing Value to Your Readers
When it comes to increasing organic search, content marketing through blogging or guest posts is the fastest way to build great traffic. However, content marketing is a quality game and not a quantity game. If you have horrible content, people won’t bother reading it or sharing it, which is basically the entire point of building a company blog. Therefore, when I write content, I constantly ask myself if I would take ten minutes out of my day to read it and if I’d share it with others. If you wouldn’t do either of those things, then you really need to look at your content strategy again.
7. Don’t Try to Outsmart Google
Gaming Google’s system might work temporarily, but it is not a good strategy for the long haul. To increase organic search traffic, produce top-notch content that’s relevant to what your users might be searching. Check the Google Keyword Tool to make sure you’re using the correct terminology that the general public is using when they’re searching.
8. Think of SEO as an Opportunity to Create Value
SEO isn’t a game. At least it’s not a game that you’ll win in the long run if you think of it as a game. Create content that readers find valuable and Google will deem search-worthy. Visitors are more likely to share content that they enjoyed reading and will stay on your site longer, while bloggers and the media might use your site as a reference, which means more organic links.
9. Decrease Bounce Rate
If there is one thing search engines hate, it is a high bounce rate. Check your keywords for this, and optimize those pages to reduce your bounce rate. Search engines will love you for it.
10. Produce Quality Content
Search engines are rewarding people and companies who are getting high-quality, consistent content coming from them. Things such as author rank are going to have a big effect on organic search results. Put a plan in place to not only create content to publish online, but also to be able to maximize the value of the content so that it is properly distributed across social channels and has a chance to go viral.
11. Create a Company Blog to Increase SEO Traffic
SEO is king in organic search traffic. The more popular search terms within your niche that you include on your website, the more searches will organically lead to your site. But including too much text on the main pages of your site can do more harm than good, which makes it difficult for consumers to find the information they want. Instead of overwriting the copy on your homepage, about page and product pages, start a separate blog for additional SEO work. Use the blog to write about your niche, whether it’s construction, beauty or entertainment. Try to do keyword research to find out which phrases are trending in your industry and include them in the blog posts. As long as your blog has a highly visible link back to the main page of the website, the blog will increase your visibility.
12. Leverage Industry Experts
Everyone likes opining as an expert. You’ll be surprised how easily you can convince industry leaders to contribute guest posts to your own blog. They will likely have their own readerships, and those people will become familiar with your brand. The experts are also likely to produce great written content that will be of great interest to your existing users.
13. Create a Community
Increasing Google traffic is all about answering questions your community finds important. You need to become the authority in your niche. Have your community ask you questions, and you’ll be well on your way to providing high-quality, valuable and useful content. That’s what Google cares about. When you provide answers to your community’s questions, Google will rank your site well for many keyword terms you wouldn’t have been able to think of on your own. You create loyalty in your community and rank well in Google at the same time. That’s a win-win.
Image: Robert Scoble