If your website isn’t receiving the traffic it once was—or has never quite performed at the level you hoped—it is time to figure out what you can do to make your site more visible. Most marketing professionals will immediately suggest improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Although using SEO to improve your Google ranking is definitely one important piece of the puzzle, it is far from being the only thing necessary for improving website traffic.
Good SEO practices can direct people to your site all day, but it is the user experience that will keep them there. Knowing how long each visitor stays on your site is another important factor in learning how to make your site the best it can be. Keep reading to learn more about these factors and other ways to keep people engaged with your web presence.
1. LEARN SEO BASICS
The rules surrounding search engine optimization have changed and evolved through the years. While it used to be necessary to use specific keywords and phrases to rank high on search engines, now the user’s intent behind the keyword matters.
While SEO is not an exact science, you can improve your SEO by researching keywords relevant to your organization and noting each word’s popularity, volume and intent. Follow these steps:
- Make a list of topics, phrases and subjects that you think people might search for to find your website.
- As described below, check your statistics to see how well your list matches with what people actually look for when they visit you.
- Look up related terms and form a list of keywords to incorporate into your content.
- Ask employees, clients or marketing experts for their input on your list.
- Place the keywords in your copy, headings, page headers and image descriptions.
Repeat this process at least three or four times per year to see if you need to add or remove certain keywords. Keeping keywords relevant will help your site appear more often in front of your target audience.
2. CHECK STATS REGULARLY
You cannot know how to improve your website if you don’t know where you stand. Use tools such as Google Toolbar to keep track of your page ranking compared to your competitors’ rankings. Google’s PageSpeed Insights test shows you how quickly your page loads on different devices and how it compares to other sites’ functionality.
Make full use of your site’s web analytics tools—and get help if you have trouble understanding how to use them. These tools allow you to track web traffic details, including where your visitors come from and the search terms they used to find you. You can learn how long visitors stay on your site, which pages they view and their bounce rate (the percentage of viewers who leave your site after viewing only one page).
3. MAXIMIZE WEBSITE USABILITY
An effective web presence is one that loads quickly, reads smoothly and makes sense structurally. It should also be visually pleasing with relevant images and engaging media. You should strive to make your site as user-friendly as possible so that your visitors can quickly find the information they need. To maximize usability:
- Choose a clean, simple font for headings and content.
- Use headers, bullet lists and smaller paragraphs for easy reading.
- Avoid busy backgrounds, Flash animations and other visual clutter.
- Avoid using oversized images that take a long time to load.
- Make sure videos work properly.
- Check your site regularly for expired links—they lower your SEO ranking and frustrate visitors.
Because so many businesspeople use their phones to research products and services, it is vital that your website is easily viewed on any size screen. Use your own phone to check any new content you publish and fix anything that does not load properly or fit on the smaller screen. Thankfully, most sites today are optimized to be viewed clearly on mobile devices, but it is still wise to perform your own self-checks.
4. PROVIDE ENGAGING CONTENT
Every good website uses a combination of evergreen copy and frequently updated information. Like evergreen trees that never lose their leaves, evergreen copy is content that will always be relevant. A well-written “About” page is not likely to change and would be considered evergreen copy, while a blog post about upcoming events provides new content to draw visitors back to your site.
As discussed above, copy should include relevant keywords. However, avoid overstuffing your content with keywords. Not only does “keyword stuffing” lower your Google ranking, it can make for oddly-structured sentences that are difficult to read. Always strive for a good user experience over using your entire list of keywords.
Increase the amount of time visitors stay on your site by using multimedia tools, slideshows, videos or other creative features that encourage active engagement. Many people prefer video over reading text, and may remember more about your site when it includes interactive features.
Finally, don’t forget to include a call to action (CTA). A strong CTA will provide a way for you to get in touch with your visitors and encourage them to come back. Consider offering a newsletter, eBook or other exclusive content to those who provide their contact information.
5. LINK TO OTHERS–AND YOURSELF
Use LinkedIn or other networking tools to identify companies that may be willing to include a link to your site on their website. Be sure to reciprocate the favor. In addition, make sure that your content includes links back to your archives. This is an easy way to boost SEO and increase the amount of time that a visitor stays on your site. However, avoid excessive linking as many people find it annoying.
6. SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Now that you have created an optimized website, you will want to make sure everyone sees it. Installing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media sharing buttons makes it easy for visitors to share your content. Their shares are also good for your SEO ranking. When you update your site with new content, be sure to post about it on your own social media channels. Set the privacy on these posts to “public” to help your readers share them easily with their own friends.