3 Easy Steps to Help Boost Your Website’s Organic Traffic
Back in the days, when the World Wide Web was still very much unchartered territory and “Google” was not yet officially recognized as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary, there was a thesis – The Anatomy of a Large–Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. This thesis told us how Google worked and what we needed to know to rank highly in search.
The internet has changed drastically over the past 20 years, as have the best ways to optimize your site to rank highly. Anyone who has dealt with Google, for most of the past decade, whether you are a digital marketer or an SEO specialist, will know that the Internet mega–giant has become notorious for keeping its cards close to the chest. But in the past 12 months, it’s noticeable that Google is trying to become more transparent.
Last July, Google released its search quality guidelines to the public for the first time. These guidelines have been notoriously difficult to get a hold of in the past, with Google going to great lengths to remove bootleg copies from the internet.
Also, Danny Sullivan, one of Google’s biggest critics at times, moved from his role as a search marketing journalist and analyst to the role of public search liaison at Google. Another step in the right direction for Google transparency.
How Google ranks content has also changed significantly over the past two decades. Ten years ago, keyword stuffing and building backlinks using link farms and poor–quality directories were a sure–fire way to get you to the top of the rankings. Thankfully, those tactics no longer work. Nowadays, Google uses over 200 different ranking signals, and sophisticated algorithms aided by artificial intelligence and machine learning to do what their original thesis, written in 1998, set out to do: return high quality results.
So, forget about the dream of finding a simple way around SEO and getting your site ranked high up by doing the bare minimum. In today’s saturated search environment, SEO takes a lot of thought and planning… and if you do it right, you might just hit Google’s sweet spot and see your site’s pages climb the ranks.
Today, I want to share with you three steps you can follow to help improve your search ranking: Adding structured data to your website, finding “striking distance keywords,” and finding and fixing 404 Errors.
What is structured data?
Structured data, more commonly known as Schema Mark–up, is a standardized type of code that makes it easier for search engines to crawl, organize, and display your content.
For example, on your website posts, structured data allows you to tell Google what the headline is, who the author is, what an image is, the date the article was published, and so on.
Google uses structured data to understand the content of a page better. Although the official word from Google is that structured data doesn’t influence ranking, the SEO Intelligence Agency recently ran a test to show that adding Schema Mark–up to a page increased the likelihood of that page ranking, and found that it did. You can download the test results here.
In another study, Searchmetrics found that a site with Schema Mark–up implemented will rank, on average, four positions higher than a site without Schema Mark–up. The full study can be viewed here.
Over the past 12 months, Google has been pushing structured data implementation heavily. In fact, Structure Data was mentioned in approximately 50% of all presentations at the recent SMX West conference including two Googler’s stressing its importance to the search engine.
A Search Engine Watch article from April 2017 states that somewhere between 17% and 31% of sites currently leverage structured data. This is extremely low and opens up an opportunity to gain an advantage over your competitors.
In addition to increasing search engines’ understanding of your content, leveraging Schema Mark–up can also enhance how your content appears in search results via rich snippets, knowledge graphs and featured snippets. These search features are proven to increase click through rates to your site.
The two most popular ways to add structured data to your website are by using the Data Highlighter tool in Google Search Console or by adding Schema Mark–up directly to your website code via your web developers.
Adding Schema via a web developer allows you to implement more types of structured data such as Rating schema.
Adding structured data via the Data Highlighter tool is easier, and a lot quicker. Here’s how to do it.
Note: To follow the steps below, you’ll need to add Google Search Console to your site. If you haven’t done this yet, Message us here to get step–by–step instructions on how to do it.
Step 1: – Open up the non–beta version of your Google Search Console
Step 2: – Click on Start Highlighting
Step 3: – Enter the URL for one of your posts, choose the type of information to highlight (article), and choose tag this page and others like it.
Step 4: – Highlight the title and click title to let Google know this is the article tile.
Step 5: – Do this for the other elements applicable to your content that appear on the right–hand side in My Data Items
Once you complete your first page, you’ll be asked to create a page set and tag more examples. Keep tagging pages until Google prompts you to finish.
Once you get the prompt, and are happy with your work after reviewing it, hit publish. Your page set is now published and you’ve added structured data for page titles, authors, publish dates, images, categories, and average ratings to your site. There is one caveat with using the Google Search Console tool, however. The mark–up you add is only visible to Google, and not to Bing, Yahoo, or other search engines.
NOTE: If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, once it’s configured correctly, it automatically adds some Schema Mark–up to your site for breadcrumb navigation, and sitelinks searchbox appearing for with your homepage in Google Search.
How do you find striking distance keywords?
Keywords ranking on page 2 or page 3 of Google are considered to be within striking distance. Striking distance keywords can be a quick and easy way to squeeze more organic traffic out of content you’ve already written.
Giving this content some extra attention and tweaking it slightly can bump it up to page 1. The keyword is already ranking quite well and search engines have deemed the page to be relevant to the topic. A small change can make a big impact.
SEMrush is the best tool to use to find striking distance keywords. It only takes a few minutes to identify them. Here’s how.
Step 1: Click into Domain Analytics > Organic Research
Step 2: Enter your websites URL and click Search
For this step, when entering your URL leave out the https:// and www. Parts. For example, for https://dailyreckoning.com/ you’ll enter dailyreckoning.com.
Choose the correct database. If you target the US, choose US.
This now tells you how many keywords your website ranks for, and what the keywords are. You now need to focus on keywords that you can improve with just a few small tweaks. To do this, you need to click into Advanced filters.
Step 3: Click Advanced filters
Here, you’ll look for keywords that are ranking outside the top 10 (the number of results typically on the first page of Google search) and within the top 30 (within the first 3 pages of Google).
Add a filter to only include keywords with a search volume greater than 20, and a filter to only include KWs with a KW difficulty of less than you feel is achievable for the site you’re looking at.
For example, The Daily Reckoning has enough authority built up to target KWs with a difficulty around 60. For smaller, or newer sites, you should focus on KWs with a lower KW difficulty score. Below is an example of how your filter should look:
Click Apply once you’ve chosen your filters.
Step 4: Find KWs with the most potential.
To do this, filter the results by descending volume. For The Daily Reckoning, you can see below that the Tokyo Real Estate page has some potential.
Here are some of the changes and updates you can make to help improve the ranking of this page:
- When you open the URL: https://dailyreckoning.com/tokyo-real-estate-buy-or-sell/, you’ll see that this is an old piece of content that may need some updating. So, update any content and figures to the latest and most relevant date.
- Once you’ve updated the page, publish it under today’s date. Changing the publish date alone could potentially be enough to push this page to page 1.On most popular website content management systems, like WordPress, posts are sorted in a chronological archive. When you post a piece of content, it starts on page 1 of that archive. As you publish more and more content, that post continues to go from page 1 to page 2, to page 3 etc… over the course of time. The deeper a page is on your site, the less authority it has. The less authority, the less chance it has of ranking highly. This particular page has been pushed back for the past 3 years.By republishing it, the post goes back to page 1 of the archive and gets an instant surge of internal authority. That helps it jump up the rankings.
- Analyze the page title. The page title is probably the biggest on–page SEO ranking factor. On this page, the title is pretty good: Tokyo Real Estate: Buy or Sell? – The Daily ReckoningThe keyword is at the beginning so no changes are needed here.
- Build internal links that direct to this piece of content. To quickly find some relevant pages to link from, I’d go to Google and use the following searches:
- site:dailyreckoning.com tokyo real estate
- site:dailyreckoning.com “tokyo real estate”
- site:dailyreckoning.com tokyo real estate
- site:dailyreckoning.com Japan real estate
- site:dailyreckoning.com “tokyo” real estate
- site:dailyreckoning.com “Japan” real estate
Not all the results will be appropriate to link to the target page, but you’ll have a list of pages to work with. It’s best practice to use descriptive keywords in anchor text that give a sense of the topic or keywords you’re trying to target.
Linking internally is extremely important. Internal links allow you to spread SEO value around your website and they help users navigate around your site, also.
Following the steps outlined above, you’ll be able to move content from the “page 2 and 3 Google black hole” back into the spotlight on page 1.
Finding & Fixing 404 Errors
A 404 error is a broken link on your website. The 404 “Page Not Found” error is a response code from a server telling the user that the requested page could not be found.
As a web user you most certainly know how annoying 404 errors can be and having many of these error pages and broken links is a sure way to provide a poor user experience for visitors.
Page Not Found errors have a negative effect on bounce rate, average time spent on your site and ultimately conversion rates. A study conducted by SpringTrax found that 3 out of every 4 visitors who hit a 404 page leave your website straight away. If you aren’t regularly monitoring and eradicating 404 errors from your site, then you should start right now. Checking for 404 errors at least once per month is good practice. Once per week is best practice.
AIM Tip: Consider setting up a monitor on your most important pages to ping you if they 404. This can be done for free through IFTTT and Uptime Robot.
We’ve put together a quick guide on how to find and fix 404 errors on your website. Message us here and we’ll send this report to you.