Are you using highly relevant keywords in your headlines? Are you actively building backlinks to your site?
Great. But you need to dig deeper into search engine optimization to get your site’s content all the traffic it’s capable of getting.
While we focus on Google – as it’s the most popular search engine by far –these tips can help you get more traffic from other search engines too.
Tip 1: Make sure your pages are indexed
A page needs to be in Google’s index to appear in its results. The index is like a gigantic database of all the webpages in the world. How do you find out whether Google has indexed your page? You can check for individual URLs through the cache method or your overall site with the Google Search Console option.
Cache method (for individual URLs)
- Go to Google.com.
- In the search bar, type: cache:[the URL you want to check].
Do NOT put a space between the colon and the URL.
If the page isn’t indexed, a 404 error page appears.
If the page is indexed, a cached version appears plus the date it was backed up or saved (i.e., cached) by Google. (Thus, it may not be the current version of the page.)
Using the cache method for an index check has a couple of drawbacks:
- It’s not 100% accurate. Occasionally, indexed pages aren’t shown as cached.
- You can check only one URL at a time. That’s fine if you want to check a few pages but frustrating if you have dozens to check.
Search console method (for multiple URLs)
Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) allows you to see how Google views your site. It provides information that allows you to optimize your site to get more search engine traffic.
- Verify you own the site by following Google’s instructions here. (You can do it through a domain or URL verification process.)
- Go to Google Search Console and your site report will appear.
- In the left column, under Index, click coverage. Your screen will look like this:
This report shows all the valid pages in Google’s index. It also displays pages with errors and warnings as well as excluded pages.
Use the Google Search Console method to evaluate multiple pages or the whole site. It only takes a few minutes to set up and provides loads of useful data.
Tip 2: Improve your click-through rate (CTR)
If your page looks uninviting in the search results, most people will scroll down and click on a competing page. But if your title tag and meta description are enticing, they’ll click on yours.
In many cases, your well-written headline for the page can simply become the title tag. Sometimes, though, it makes sense to craft a more keyword-focused title tag.
Your meta description tag should summarize your piece and engage the searcher to click to read more. Don’t default to the first sentence of your content.
A few different tools let you see how your title tag and meta description will appear before you publish. I like Google SERP Generator because it lets you play around with different possibilities.
BONUS TIP: You also can modify title tags and meta descriptions for existing pages. Just make sure you don’t alter pages already performing well.
Tip 3: Reduce your click-back rate
Just as you want to increase the number of people who like the look of your page enough to click on the link, you also want to reduce the number who click but return quickly to the search results.
Your click-back rate is the percentage of people who return to the search results. A high rate signals to Google that the searcher’s needs weren’t met when viewing your content. (“Needs met” is a criteria considered by Google’s search quality raters when improving the search engine’s algorithms.)
SEO experts also believe Google and other search engines pay attention to dwell time – how long someone spends on the site before returning to the search results.
To reduce your click-back rate and to improve your dwell time, make sure your page:
- Satisfies the searcher’s intent. To do this, you must know what searchers want and why – their commercial, informational, or navigational intent. Then you must deliver content that is truly relevant to those searchers.
- Delivers on the promise your title and meta description make. If your content doesn’t answer their question or fill their need, the searcher will click away.
Tip 4: Add more internal links to your pages
Getting backlinks to your site from a third party is a great SEO move. But what about internal links? Are you using them as much as you could?
The linking words in the text help Google better understand what your pages are about. They also can elevate reputation (PageRank as Google calls it). If you frequently link to a particular page, Google will see the page as an important one, perhaps a pillar content page.
The more you link to your other pages, the easier it is for your readers to find and consume more of your content – and the easier you make it for search engines to correctly crawl and index your content.
Tip 5: Get broken backlinks fixed
Sometimes backlinks break. You take down a page or change a URL, but the third-party site linking to it hasn’t changed it. But given that backlinks are one of Google’s top ranking factors, it makes sense to fix any broken links.
Plenty of tools like Ahrefs can find your broken backlinks.
Once you find broken backlinks, you can take steps to “fix” them without contacting the referring site:
- Use a 301 redirect to point the “broken” URL to the most relevant existing page.
- Republish the page at the old URL.
BONUS TIP: Start with pages that have multiple broken links, then fix pages with just one or two broken links.
Tip 6: Reach out to people who mention your brand
Just as you want to fix broken backlinks, you also want to catch missing natural backlinks.
Sometimes people mention your brand on their site or talk about your content but forget to link to it. Fixing this can be as simple as sending an email, but you can’t do that until you know who’s talking about your brand.
One easy and free way of doing this is to set up Google Alerts for your brand name and variations. Then you can click on those mentions to see if the mentioning site links to your site.
Or if your budget allows, you can save time using a tool like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs, which highlight brand mentions without links. B
Then you can filter to see which sites mention your brand but don’t include a link:
When you notice that your brand is mentioned without a backlink, you can reach out to the company and indicate your appreciation of the mention and ask if they would consider adding a link to your site. It’s surprising how many will, especially when you respond soon after the article was published.
Tip 7: Ask people who already linked to your content
Another opportunity to secure more backlinks in your email outreach guide – contact authors (and sites) who have mentioned your brand.
Optimize your SEO process
If you want more search engine traffic (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?), then these seven tips are great ways to boost your site in Google’s rankings and attract a a bigger – and perhaps more relevant – audience.
Which one will you pick to try this week?