In this article we’re going to discuss everything you need to get started generating SEO traffic to your website, including:
If you’re looking to get more organic traffic from search engines, read on.
What Is SEO traffic?
There are two types of website traffic:
Organic traffic: This is traffic that you don’t pay for directly. It includes people who click through to your website from your social media pages, your email newsletter, Google’s search results, and so on.
Paid traffic: This is traffic that you pay for directly. It includes people who click pay-per-click (PPC) ads, as well as those who hear about you through influencer marketing, newsletter or podcast sponsorships, and other forms of paid advertising.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and is a process of optimizing your website with the goal of ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and ultimately increasing traffic.
In theory, the term SEO refers to all search engines, but in practice, it’s Google that matters most as they have an 87.35% share of the search market, with Bing being a very distant second at 5.53%, and Yahoo taking third place with 2.83% of the market.
SEO traffic is organic traffic that comes from search engines, in other words, people who typed a keyword or query into Google, looked through the search results, and then clicked through to your website.
Note that this doesn’t include paid search engine traffic, meaning those who entered a query into a search engine, and then clicked on your PPC ad that was displayed above the search results.
You can monitor organic traffic from SEO using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If you want to learn more about these tools, check out our guides on SEO Analytics and SEO Tracking.
Why Is SEO Traffic So Important?
Organic traffic comes from your online assets such as your social media following, your email newsletter, and your blog.
As you probably know, these assets take time to build, but over time the traffic you generate can often be much less expensive than paid traffic.
For example, it takes time to get a blog off the ground, but if you keep at it, the organic traffic can start to grow exponentially. Aas your SEO traffic grows over time, this means you may be able to reduce your paid advertising budget (or even eliminate it entirely!).
It’s important to keep in mind that SEO traffic isn’t free. You will need to either create content yourself, in which case you have to consider the cost of your time, or hire someone to create it for you.
However, you should see this as an investment, since content that ranks well on Google can generate traffic for years with minimal additional effort on your part (you may want to keep it updated, though).
5 Ways to Increase Your SEO Traffic
Okay, so the question is, how can you increase your organic search traffic? To answer this, let’s look at 5 techniques you can use.
1. Target the Right Keywords
Keyword research should generally be the first step of your SEO strategy as well as your overall content strategy. The question you want to answer with keyword research is “what is my target audience searching for on Google”?
We’ll assume that you already know what topics your potential customers are interested in, but knowing exactly keywords and queries they’re using is a crucial first step in increasing search traffic.
One way you can figure out what queries people are using is to type a broad keyword into Google and look at the suggestions. For example, if your target audience is ecommerce entrepreneurs, if you type in “ecommerce” you can see other common search terms that people use:
Here are the two of the main things you want to know:
Search volume: How many searches for this keyword are run every month?
Keyword difficulty: How hard it is to rank on the first page of Google’s search results for this keyword?
When you are just starting out, you should generally look for long tail keywords with decent search volume and low competition.
Now, you may be wondering what qualifies as “decent search volume”, although as Brian Dean points out in his article on keyword research, that depends on your niche:
For example, a long tail keyword in the fitness niche (like: “best ab exercises”) gets 10K-100K searches per month,” he explains. “But a long tail keyword in a B2B space like digital marketing (like: “best seo software”) only gets 100-1K monthly searches.
It may be worthwhile to do some research on the search volume for your niche so that you’d have a better understanding of what you should aim for.
Once you build up your own domain authority, you can start going after more competitive keywords that have high search volume.
2. Create High-Quality Content
Google has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the best content rises to the top of its search results. This means that, as a rule of thumb, content marketing (which includes SEO) doesn’t work without creating great content.
Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but if you want to rank well in the world’s most popular search engine, creating high quality content is your best bet.
So what does “high quality content” actually mean? To answer this, here are a few considerations to make:
Match Search Intent
The most important thing you need to consider is whether your content matches the search intent.
In other words, when someone sees a link to your website on the first page of Google’s search results and clicks on it, will they find what they were looking for?
There are four types of search intent:
Informational intent This means the person is looking for information. For example, “capital of Mozambique”, “ketogenic diet”, “how to download a YouTube video”, etc.
Transactional intent: The person is researching a potential purchase. For example, “top hostels London”, “best email marketing software”, etc.
Commercial intent: The person is searching for a product they want to buy. For example, “Moleskine notebook”, “order pizza Barcelona”, etc.
Navigational intent: The person wants to go to a specific website. For example, “Sennheiser United Kingdom”, “Tropical MBA podcast”, etc.
When you are targeting a keyword, you want to determine and match the search intent, otherwise, you’ll likely struggle to rank on Google.
Here’s a helpful table from Ahrefs’ article on search intent:
Make It Comprehensive
You should also aim to create the most comprehensive resource on the topic on the internet.
Once you have determined search intent, your first priority should be to match it. Once that’s done you need to think how you can make the content even more helpful than existing results.
To accomplish this, try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who typed in this keyword into Google:
What are the problems that they may encounter?
What are the most helpful tips and tricks that can make things easier?
What additional information would they find useful?
It’s important to resist the temptation to simply pad the word count, though. Remember the search intent and ask yourself: “what is the person who typed this keyword into Google trying to achieve?”.
Make It Better Than the Competition
Next, you want to focus on making your content better than what’s already out there.
You can do that by analyzing the content that’s already ranking on the first page of Google’s search results and identifying how you can improve on it.
Here are a few ideas:
Use proper formatting: 1-2 line paragraphs, bullet points for lists, images to break up the text, etc.
Have more and better data: Back up your claims with statistics whenever you can. It’s best practice to only use data that is no more than 2 years old.
Add real life examples: Tell the story of someone who’s been there, done that. Preferably with numbers, screenshots, and other relavant examples. The fact is, people love case studies.
Cite research papers: Try to find relevant scientific papers. Just make sure to actually read the paper you are citing in full, otherwise, you run the risk of misrepresenting the research.
Create custom images: You can easily find a graphic designer on websites like Upwork who can create custom images for your blog at an affordable price.
It’s important to understand that the competition for those coveted spots on the first page of Google’s search results is fierce. This means you need to outwork everyone that’s already on it if you want to stand a chance.
3. Optimize Your Content
One way to optimize your content is with Clearscope, which is an SEO tool that helps you to rank higher on Google’s search results by showing you how to make your content more relevant.
The idea behind this tool is that relevance is Google’s primary ranking factor. Simply put, the better your content matches the search intent, the higher it will rank.
Clearscope’s most valuable feature is optimizing content for relevancy. You paste your article into it and you get a score from F to A++. which is based on your word count, readability, and relevance compared to the competition.
Once you have your grade, you can make adjustments to improve it. For example, you can include more relevant terms from the list provided by Clearscope. Continue tweaking until you get an A+ or A++ in order to increase your odds of ranking on the first page of Google’s search results.
Clearscope is a relatively expensive tool as their Pro plan starts at $350/month. However, if you can afford it, it may be worth the investment. Their impressive customer list certainly suggests so.
4. Be Aggressive About Backlinks
Arguably, the second most important Google’s ranking factor is backlinks as people linking to a web page indicates that the web page provides value.
That’s why link building is extremely important. You'll need to put yourself out there and get these links, but how exactly can you accomplish this?
The most straightforward way to get backlinks is guest posting, where you offer a free guest post to an established website in an exchange for a link to your own website. You can expect at least one link in your byline, but you may be able to place another one in the post itself.
Of course, if you want to land a guest post, you need to make sure that the article you offer is top-notch.
Also, keep in mind that all websites are not equal in the eyes of Google. The higher the domain authority of a website, the more valuable a link is from that website.
That’s why you may want to use the Ahrefs Website Authority Checker tool to see if it’s worthwhile to submit a guest post to a particular website.
You generally want to target websites that have a 50+ domain authority.
You can also use the AgencyAnalytics backlink monitoring tool to track your link building campaign.
5. Pay Attention to Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the things you can do on your website to improve your search rankings. The first step is to use an SEO site checker to crawl the website to identify common SEO issues that could be preventing the site from ranking as well as it could. The best SEO audit tools will identify critical issues and group them by severity so you have a clear understanding of which to fix first.
When it comes to on-page content, the most obvious of them is using your target keywords in your post:
Include it in the title.
Mention it in the first 100 words.
Use it several times in the article itself. Don’t overdo it, though, it may come across as spammy.
Use it in the meta description of the post.
Use it in the URL of the post.
All this on-page work helps make it more clear to Google what your content is about.
You should also make an effort to improve the page load speed as Google has indicated that it’s an important ranking factor.
The first step to improving your page speed is to compress all images on your website with a tool like TinyJPG. If you want to learn other page speed tactics, you can check out Moz’s guide on Page Speed.
Also, if you are using WordPress, you may want to consider switching to a lightweight theme and removing unnecessary plugins, or consider moving to Ghost, a blogging platform which is often said to offer a faster page load speed.
Improving page load speed should also help to reduce your bounce rate, which might be another Google ranking factor (although it’s unclear if that’s really the case).
These are just a few of the on-page SEO basics, but there are a lot more tweaks that you can make. Improving user experience, using internal links, adding anchor text to images, etc. If you want to learn more check out Brian Dean’s guide: On-Page SEO: The Definitive Guide.
When Should You Expect To See Results?
Now, you may be wondering, how long does it take to see results with SEO?
According to Neil Patel, here’s what you can expect:
Within the first 3 months, you should see an increase in impressions in Google Analytics.
Within the first 6 months, you should see traffic from Google from keywords outside your brand name.
Within the first 12 months, you should see an acceleration in organic search traffic growth.
Within the first 2 years, you should have built up your authority in the eyes of Google and “start ranking for almost anything”. That’s when you’ll see the bulk of your SEO growth.
However, Neil warns that if you are not writing a lot of content, building links and getting social signals, it can take longer than that.
He advises publishing one blog post per week, promoting your content on social media each week and building 5-10 links per month if you want to get results within his suggested timeframe:
If you do that, you’ll get results within the first 12 months, but you’ll see the bulk of your results come within the first 2 years.
That being said, there are of course exceptions to this. For example, Adam Enfroy started his blog in January 2019. That year, he grew it to 178k unique visitors and generated over $200k in revenue.
To achieve this, he published 80+ articles on his own blog as well as 80+ guest posts on high domain authority websites.
So if you want extraordinary results, be prepared to put in an extraordinary amount of work.
SEO Traffic: Conclusion
There’s no way around it: building organic SEO traffic takes time.
However, once you turn your blog into a traffic-generating asset, you may start to get tens or even hundreds of thousands of unique visitors every month without much additional effort. And all of this effort can be tracked using SEO reporting tools that monitor your key SEO metrics in real-time.
So the upfront investment of time, energy, and money required to get there is often well worth it. Stay focused and play the long game. You’ll be glad you did.