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Organic search traffic has been the bread and butter of most internet businesses since search engines were introduced over 20 years ago. Back then search was the only way you could be found. Now there are literally hundreds of different ways that you can be found on the internet.
These days most companies who are serious about their online presence will have numerous channels to maintain this presence. This usually includes a Facebook page, Twitter account and sometimes even a YouTube channel. All of these interlinked channels can often lead to large amounts of click-through traffic. With all this traffic coming from social media, why do we still need organic search traffic?
To understand exactly why organic search traffic is still the most important type of traffic for online businesses we need to look closely at what it is. The reason someone uses a search engine is because they are looking for something and they don’t know exactly where to find it.
After all, if they knew where to find it they would go straight there. If you are in business it is very likely that the keywords that your marketing campaign has targeted are either products or services that you provide.
If someone is searching for these products or services then there is a good chance they are looking into buying them. People trust search engines, especially Google, if they have returned your page in the top few listing for a product or service and you deliver everything the person is looking for, then the chances are they will purchase the product or services from you.
Though it may seem obvious, search engines provide visitors who are actively searching for something. They know what they want and they are using a search engine to find it.
This type of traffic is far more likely to take action, and buy than visitors who are aimlessly surfing from one social media site to the next. If you want to make a sale, organic search traffic is still the way to go.
It’s a bit hard to fault the marketers, as this is what’s selling these days to those who just don’t know better. If it’s true that sex sells, money for nothing is a close second!
While many of these methods hope to exploit “new” avenues of traffic generation, such as Facebook Advertising, fan pages, Twitter, social media in general, mobile marketing, Google’s Display Network (formerly the Content network and no, it’s not new!), PPV, YouTube, and others, the truth of it is that very little of it is actually anything new, and the promises of easy traffic and untold riches are entirely likely to be ethereal at best!
Moreover, there is, even more, evidence (not that we needed any!) that organic search is very much in control of the search engine results pages (SERPS) and will likely be that way for some time to come.
A recent heat map study by SEOBook reveals what we’ve known for some time, with an exclamation point!
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a heat map is a picture of a search engine results page, with colors overlaid to indicate the areas on the page that visitors actually travel and click. What they came up with confirms the assertion that organic search traffic rules.
The Google AdWords ads, along with any banners, are almost universally ignored, with the top PPC ads getting but 2-3% of the total clicks off the page, whereas the top organic search position gets a healthy 41-45%, fully 22 times more than the top PPC ad.
Even the #10 organic result gets 4%, more than the best performing PPC ad. This alone should be enough to make the case for organic over PPC. (But I have more!)
More and more web surfers are increasingly savvy to the ads being shown them. They are wise to the positions and formats and are more ad-conscious than they may have been several years ago when it was all still so new.
Also, the shift to a more review based, social referral type of model for finding what it is you’re seeking may have a lot to do with this.
The case for working organic search for all it’s worth could not be stronger.
Besides the fact that this is where people are searching, there is the reality that content created for your organic campaigns will be there for a long time, whereas that click you bought today you’ll have to buy again tomorrow. It’s ludicrous to hear someone say they can’t afford to pay for content when a PPC campaign (that will get you 22 times less traffic) will drive you to the poorhouse quickly! Food for thought!
In terms of the actual data, 12 months ago I had just 52 visitors arriving at my site after clicking through from a search engine. Last month, this had grown to 814 visitors. And it’s likely to just keep on growing…
So what’s the strategy?
In brief, it involves creating and publishing content to my blog on a regular weekly basis, coupled with sharing it on social.
So nothing too out the ordinary. Yes, basically, blogging. But with a bit of magic sauce thrown in.
What’s the ‘magic sauce’?
Thought you’d never ask…
Firstly, I followed a specific content creation strategy that I’ll share with you shortly.
Secondly, I’ve also been repurposing the content by turning the posts into articles (like this one) for publication on different sites, creating presentations for SlideShare, videos for YouTube, and more.
This helps build up a rounded link profile to support the ranking of my posts in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Plus of course, it attracts additional traffic in its own right.
YouTube, for example, is the world’s second largest search engine. SlideShare is in the top 200 sites worldwide and another source of high-quality traffic.
Repurposing also provides more content I can share on social to keep in front of my social audiences and build more authority and credibility.
If you want online visibility, content repurposing is where it’s at.
My Content Creation Strategy
For the posts on my blog, I have developed a 5-point content creation strategy to maximize my search visibility.
- Keyword Research
I don’t do keyword research for every post I create, but it can be helpful for determining what to write about so that you potentially reach the maximum number of people.
For example, I may have a rough idea of the topic I want to write about. Some keyword research will help indicate a particular keyword to focus on, where there’s a higher potential for me to rank and attract traffic.
I’ll use the Yoast WordPress plugin to help optimize the post for the keyword.
But at all times, my #1 priority is value for the visitor. I write for the reader, not the search engines. And paradoxically, that helps you rank well.
- Create Longer Content
Research shows that longer content ranks more highly in the search engines. This could be for a number of reasons, for example:
– Longer content will keep people on the page for a longer period of time, which helps rankings.
– It provides more value and more reasons for other sites to link to and share the content, again helping rankings.
I, therefore, focus on creating posts that are at least 2000 words. Often they go over 3000 words and can be up to around 5000 words.
This isn’t about stretching out a thin topic to a breaking point for the sake of reaching a predefined word count.
But it is about:
(a) Writing on a topic that’s meaty enough to reach a high word count naturally; and
(b) Providing lots of value to the visitor by going into the topic in depth, and providing as much helpful information as I can.
- Use Images
I always add images to the post, and particularly a ‘Featured Image’ that shows at the top and elsewhere on the site.
The latter helps with engagement on social, so means more people click through to the content, they’re more likely to share it, and so on.
The Featured Image is also useful when repurposing the content. For example, it can be re-used as the thumbnail for YouTube video, the cover page for a Slide Share presentation, and as a cover image to use when posting the content to LinkedIn Pulse and elsewhere.
I include other images within the post itself to help break up the text and to provide more value to the reader. For example, I might provide an image of using a site I mention or a chart that helps visualize some data.
- Optimize for Opt-Ins
Of course, attracting traffic to your site is of little use unless it has some benefit for your business.
The key is to maximize the number of visitors you are able to convert into leads for your business.
One way to do this is to create content upgrades for your posts. This offers content of additional value, directly relevant to the post in question, in exchange for an email address.
It can be as simple as a PDF version of the information in the post. Or perhaps some additional information that is only available to those who choose to opt-in.
- Adjust the Meta Description
In WordPress, you can use the Yoast plugin to adjust the Meta description for each post. The Meta description is what can show on the web page when it’s listed in the SERPs.
Through careful crafting of the text, you can boost the number of people clicking through to your web page, rather than that of competing sites in the SERPs. This can help your ranking to improve over time and attract more traffic longer term.
The most important factor though is to publish content on a consistent basis. This builds the authority of your site and means you develop lots of content over time, giving you more rankings across a wide range of related keywords, and more search visibility.
By following this strategy and combining it with content repurposing and social media, you create the type of website that is almost pre-programmed to attract increasing amounts of traffic over time