Want more organic traffic from the search engines?
Then you’ve landed on the right article.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the best SEO techniques I’ve used to generate thousands of unique visitors to my client’s site every month.
If you follow these strategies strictly, I can assure you that they will help you generate quality organic search traffic for your business.
Let’s get started.
And here are the best SEO techniques to drive organic search traffic in 2021
- Find the right topic clusters instead of keywords
- Create Outstanding Title and Meta Description
- Identify Competitor’s Top Keywords
- Update and Republish Old Articles
- Publish Long-Form Content
- Improve User Experience (UX)
- Use Google Search Console to Uncover traffic opportunities
- Optimize for Voice Search
- Measuring And Tracking SEO Performance
Find the right topic clusters instead of keywords
As an SEO specialist, I’m always finding the best ways to increase organic traffic as it will help in driving quality leads to websites.
The constant changes in the search engine algorithms causes severe headache for marketers to always stay ahead of it. But, it is possible to initiate SEO strategies that can future proof websites from getting affected by algorithm changes.
Keywords have been fundamental to SEO and content development. But focusing on keywords alone is not enough today and the ways to perform keyword research has changed over time.
The searching behaviour of users has shifted with the introduction of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri. If you’re still using the same old method to perform keyword research, you might not be successful in ranking for the keywords you’re targeting.
As you can see, search engines are focused on providing the best user experience and produce results based on intents. So, the search engines are changing their algorithms to provide topic-based content as results for their users.
And that’s where topics clusters becomes more important than keywords.
So, what are topic clusters?
A topic cluster is defined as a group of interlinked web pages or content. The web pages are built around one piece of pillar content that targets a broad topic. Each interlinked pages will focus on a particular aspect of the pillar content.
This is how I’ve used clusters of topic for my blog
With the increase in competition, it is not easy to rank a particular page for a targeted keyword. It’s not worth the time and investment to completely focus on one single page. If you want to rank for a specific keyword, you need to target the entire topic.
There are important reasons to focus on topic clusters:
- Personalization in search causes fluctuations in keyword rankings. Search engines like Google have started providing personalized search results for users. The search result that I get might not be the same as yours even if we searched for the same keywords. There will be changes in the position in SERPs.
- Latest algorithm updates made search engines understand semantically related concepts. Search engines are using advanced algorithms which identifies multiple search terms which means the same thing. This allows web pages ranking for a particular keyword to rank for other related terms.
- Search engines want to provide the best results for their users. The best way to improve your brand authority is to create high-quality content around a topic, rather than crafting one single content for specific keywords.
You should focus on the big picture. Research has shown that site that produces multiple content around particular topic outperform the sites with fewer articles on that topic.
Focusing on topic clusters offer various benefits. Here are some of them:
- Your visitors spend more time on your site. When you publish content related to your visitor’s interest, they want to dig up more. They want to know what else you have to offer regarding the topic they searched for.
- One article that performs well on search engine, will help boost the ranking of other interlinked articles as well. Developing content around a topic will improve the search rankings of similar interlinked content on your site. This will help you dominate the SERPs with multiple articles ranking for a specific keyword.
- Increase overall traffic to the site. As the articles start to rank high on search engines, the traffic will increase. The ultimate goal of any site is to encourage their visitors to some sort of action and convert them into long-term customers. Having multiple informational articles around a topic increase the traffic and conversion.
You don’t want to ignore this, right?
Check out the following resources to learn about topic clusters:
- What Are Topic Clusters (And How Can They Boost Your Traffic)?
- Topic Clustering Is the New Black of SEO and Content Marketing – What Is It and Why You Need It
Create Outstanding Title and Meta Description
Did you know that Title and Meta Description are two important elements that encourage people to click on a specific result on SERPs?
The most compelling title and description get more clicks and one of the best ways to improve your organic search traffic.
But how to know what your potential customers want to click on?
A simple trick was suggested by Brian,
Look at the particular keyword’s Google Ads
If the keywords of your choice are competitive, most likely the company running Google Ads for those keywords might be doing extensive split tests with hundreds or thousand different combinations.
A/B split testing is an experimentation method used to maximize clicks.
Using the ad copy used for Google Ads can help your site on search result pages to attract more clicks.
But, try not to copy them 100%. You want to make sure your title and meta description are unique but include some of the important keywords.
For example, you’ve created a blog post around the keyword” e-waste Malaysia”
You want to check out the Google Ads ad copy first:
Read the ad copy thoroughly. As you can see, some of the words used in the ad copy has indications in generating clicks. So, keep an eye on such words and include them in your meta description and you will most likely get more clicks.
You might want to consider the following rules for title tag and meta description:
- Keep your titles under 50-60 characters
- Add the main keyword at the beginning of the title (if possible)
- You should keep your meta description between 50-160 characters
- Describe the page in 2-3 sentences
- Include your keywords in the meta description (don’t stuff your keywords)
- Only use emojis in meta description if you want to show review or any numerical values.
Identify Competitor’s Best Keywords
Do I still need to perform keyword research?
All because I’ve discussed about topic clusters earlier, it doesn’t mean you can ignore keyword research. You still need to identify the keywords relevant to your business and rank for them by utilizing topic clusters.
When it comes to finding keywords, there are two ways to do it.
Enter keywords that you assume relevant to your business into a keyword research tool
Find the keywords your competitors are already rank for.
You can use both ways of finding the right keywords. But, finding your competitor’s keyword can help you avoid performing keyword research from scratch.
If your competitors are ranking for particular keywords, it means:
- The keywords are relevant to your business
- Competitor is driving a good amount of organic search traffic from the keywords.
We will use the reverse engineering method to improve search engine rankings and increase organic search traffic.
For example, for my website, a site like Growth.pro writes content similar to my digital marketing niche.
Just enter the site’s URL into any keyword research tools. For this post, we will be using SEMRush.
You can check the list of keywords they are ranking for in terms of country. For this example, we will use Malaysia.
Some of the keywords might not be relevant to your business. In some scenarios, your competitors may target keywords that your potential customers don’t search for. Sometimes, they are ranking for super competitive keywords that you don’t want to waste your time and resources to rank.
You can use the list of keywords and their search ranking positions as a benchmark to target the right keywords and develop the best content (better than your competitors).
When you perform competitor analysis for SEO, you will uncover so many opportunities that you can use as a competitive advantage.
Update and Republish Old Articles
Did you know that not all the articles you publish on your site will rank in search engines?
Even if you’re performed extensive keyword research and wrote the best content, your articles can get stagnant on the 2nd or 3rd page of search engines.
I wrote an article about “digital marketing agency Malaysia” in middle 2019. The article did not rank on the first page of Google for almost a year.
So in July 2020, I upgraded the article by including more information about the best digital marketing agencies in Malaysia. The traffic for the article increased by 120% and it started ranking on the first page for multiple keywords.
Recently, I’ve added fresh information to my old articles and republished them. Will be looking forward to seeing whether the updated content can increase the organic search traffic to my site.
Use the following resources to learn how to update and republish your old blog posts:
- Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO
- The Why, When, and How of Republishing Blog Posts
Publish Long-Form Content
Try asking a few content marketers or SEO experts about long-form contents and you will receive two different response. One might argue that people’s attention span is low and long-form content may or may not work. The other might confidently say that developing longer articles is the best way to increase visitor engagement and provide them with valuable insights.
Well from my personal experience, I will agree with the one that supports long-form content.
You need to understand why long-form content perform better on search engines.
Long-Form Content Ranks Higher on Search Engines
There are plenty of studies conducted the relation between word count and search engine rankings.
For instance, a study conducted by serpIQ found that the first page of search engines are dominated by long-form content (2000+ words)
Another study by Clickstream, found that word count influences search engine rankings.
Long-Form Content Shows the Authority of Publisher
If you wanted to learn about SEO or other digital marketing strategies, would you read 500 words blog post or 5,000 words in-depth guide?
The ones that are serious about learning and acquiring knowledge will go for the 5,000 words in-depth guide. This is because longer content is seen as more authoritative than shorter content.
According to a study conducted by Backlinko, the content’s authority has a direct relation with search engine rankings. Which means the authority of the publisher is identified through the content they publish.
Websites like HubSpot, SingleGrain and even this blog focus on long-form content as we can provide valuable insights on the topics we write.
Long-Form Content Sustains for Long-Term
One of the best benefits of long-form content is that it has the capability to drive organic traffic for years. But, it should have all the characteristic of evergreen content.
And the most important part of evergreen content is that they are often updated with fresh information depending on how the industry is evolving.
What’s the point of having an evergreen content if they are not updated consistently over the years?
Contents from website like Moz, Quicksprout continues to attract backlinks and traffic even today. As per SEMRush the traffic for a content on Moz (Beginner’s Guide to SEO) has increased consistently over the last 7 years.
The blog post is getting approximately 120k organic traffic from search engines per month and it’s ranking for almost 9.3k keywords.
Long-Form Content Attracts Inbound Links
Although there is a hot debate on whether acquiring backlinks is one of the best ways to increase organic traffic, many SEO experts are focused on developing quality content that can earn quality backlinks.
Long-form content provides in-depth coverage of a specific topic. The content has the potential to be one of the best resources online on that particular subject. Once the content is seen as an authoritative asset, other websites will start linking to that content.
A study conducted by HubSpot shows that there is a correlation between content length and number of backlinks.
So it is essential to focus on developing long-form content. If you prefer creating interactive content than you can focus on the following types of content:
- Case studies
Improve User Experience (UX)
Newbie or inexperienced SEOs always think about keywords and links. Although I agree that keywords and links matters, SEO is more than that. The scope is even bigger today. Google ranks your site based on almost 200+ ranking factors and UX elements are the most important among them.
Google is the largest search engine in the world with 93% market share. Google wants to provide the best search experience for its users. And for that reason, Google introduced so many changes with complex algorithm updates.
The role of UX has become important than ever with Google’s RankBrain update. RankBrain is one of the most crucial algorithm updates ever and it focused on user-oriented metrics like organic CTR, site’s bounce rate, dwell time and many more.
The role of RankBrain is to keep Google informed with the experience of the users when they visit a specific website. This will help Google to determine whether the site is user-friendly. If the user visits your site and instantly go back to the search results indicates that your site either has poor user experience or showing something irrelevant to the user’s query.
To put it simply, UX is about making your visitors happy. And that’s what Google expects from the sites placed on the result pages.
You should focus on the following elements to provide the best experience for your visitors:
Implement Simple Website Architecture
The site architecture is all about how your pages and posts are arranged on your website. When we look at it from the Technical SEO perspective, simple and organized site architecture allow Google to find and index the pages without any interruption.
From a visitor’s point of view, site architecture helps them to easily navigate your website and find content that interests them. This is why site architecture considered as one of the crucial part of user experience. Your website can offer a good user experience by simplifying the site architecture.
Just make sure your navigation menu is simple, have informational labels for menu and ensure the pages are no more than 2 or 3 clicks away from the homepage.
Focus on Website Responsiveness
Responsiveness of your website has become mandatory for UX and SEO. As your visitors are using multiple devices ranging from desktop to smartphones, you want to make sure the site to be responsive on all devices.
Google emphasizes on mobile-first indexing since 2016. The mobile version of your site is indexed first. If your site is not responsive it will affect your rankings. You can use the following tool to check whether your site is mobile-friendly:
Improve the page load time
Google has officially announced that page speed as one of the most important ranking signals. There are a lot of studies conducted on page speed and following are some of the stats you should be aware of:
- 46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on mobile devices – Google Webmaster Blog
- 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again – Think With Google
- The bounce rate increases by 32% when a page load time went from 1 to 3 seconds – Think With Google
Losing your visitors due to page load time can be painful. Poor page load time hurt overall user experience.
There are a few ways to improve your page speed:
- Choose the best web hosting plans from hosting providers like WPX, Siteground, Kinsta, etc.
- Optimize your images by using compressing tools like TinyPng
- Leverage on browser caching
- Don’t upload videos directly to your website. Upload them to video sharing sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Just embed those videos to your site
- Choose a reliable content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare or Stackpath
- Use the right cache plugins if you’re using WordPress
You can check your page speed using the following tools:
Avoid Bad SEO Practices
SEO and UX works vice-versa. You know that poor UX can hurt your SEO efforts.
But did you know that unethical SEO practices can affect your UX?
If you’re spamming your site with thin content with irrelevant links and promotional banners in sidebars, you’re most likely to drive people away. Focus on the following SEO elements to improve your site’s UX:
- Write long-form content that provides solutions to the user’s search query. Provide valuable information that stands out from others
- Add internal links to one content to another to pass on the link juice. Do not simply add links and make them fit in naturally.
- Your content should offer easy readability. Add headings to your subtopic and keep your paragraphs small.
- The title and meta description of your pages should be relevant to the content published on the site. Do not mislead your visitors as it will increase the bounce rate.
Always remember that your site is the first thing your target audience get connected to before taking other valuable actions like purchasing products and services or subscribing to your email list. The UX design of your website will decide whether your target audience want to make your brand relatable.
Use Google Search Console to Uncover traffic opportunities
Google Search Console is one of my favourite SEO tools.
Most SEO tools out there do not provide accurate data when it comes to organic search traffic and rankings. But, Google Search Console is a tool developed by Google and the data comes straight from them.
Although GSC is commonly used to find out technical SEO issues like indexing, crawling, manual actions and usability, but you can also use it to uncover organic traffic opportunities.
If you haven’t integrated your site with Google Search Console, learn how to do it here:
If you’ve already integrated, login to your GSC account and click on “Performance”
Once you click on “Performance”, you will see the GSC pages with organic traffic details. Scroll down and you will see “queries” which means the keywords your site is currently ranking for. You can see the number of clicks and impressions your site achieved by targeting the keywords.
Sort the queries by “Impression”. Take a look at the keywords that are getting huge impressions and the clicks. Most of the time you might get lots of impressions with little clicks. This shows that there is a huge traffic potential for the keyword.
You need to focus on improving your ranking for that keyword. Usually high impression with low clicks occurs due to low search ranking. Your site might be ranking on the 2nd page or at the bottom of the first page.
For example, I have this one keyword that gets a superb impression but extremely few clicks.
What kind of strategies should you use to improve the ranking?
I would suggest using these tips:
- Improve your CTR: The main reason for high impression and lower click is that people are looking at your site on the search result page but are not encouraged to click on it. Most probably you’re not having a killer title tag and meta description. Look at your competitor’s result and compare their title tag and meta description with yours. Make the changes and see whether there is any difference in CTR.
- Create more content: Remember discussing topic clusters earlier. Implement the strategy here to increase the number of long-form contents around the keyword.
- Focus on link building: Having quality backlinks are still important. Acquire quality links from authority sites. If you’re creating valuable long-content, you should be earning quality links consistently. Don’t forget to promote your content on the right digital channels.
- Include visuals to your blog posts: Your blog post shouldn’t be 100% text. That’s boring. People will get turned down. Adding visual multimedia like images, videos or infographic makes your blog post interactive and keep your audience engaged. Thus, leads to higher rankings.
Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search is not used by Google alone. It’s used by Amazon (Alexa) and Apple (Siri). Voice search is a technology that allows the users to perform a search using their voice.
Here are some of the best voice search stats:
- 2 in 5 adults use voice search once daily
- Voice commerce sales reached $1.8 billion in 2017 and expected to reach $40 billion by 2022.
- 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines.
There are huge differences between text and voice search. To optimize your site for voice search, and appear in front of user’s voice search query you need to understand the following example.
A text-based search query might look something like “fat loss diet”. But a voice-based search might be longer and the query will be something like ” what should I eat to lose fat?”
Another major difference with voice search is that the search queries are mostly local searches. They search for restaurants, clothing stores, gyms, pubs, etc.
Brian Dean indicated that 40.7% of voice search results are taken from features snippet ( the zero ranking). The remaining results often extracted from any part of a web page as long it fulfils the searcher’s query.
Optimizing for voice search is simply answering to queries. Like how you would write for featured snippets. Once you master writing for featured snippets, you’ll naturally write for voice search as well.
Learn how to optimize your site for voice search from the following resources:
- How to Optimize for Voice Search: 6 SEO Strategies for Success
- OK, Google: How Do I Optimize My Site for Voice Search?
Measuring And Tracking SEO Performance
You can improve something only when you’re able to measure it.
Measuring the impact of SEO strategies will help in proving the value of SEO. Measuring & tracking SEO performance can help you pivot your priorities when something is not working.
Recently I’ve written a blog post on 10 SEO Metrics to monitor in 2020. The post will help you prioritize the most important metrics for SEO success.
Once you know the right metrics to measure and track, you’ll be able to justify your SEO efforts. You don’t have to focus on all the metrics listed. Just choose few when you’re getting started.
The main reason to measure and track your SEO performance is that you’ll be able to identify the strategies that are working and focus on them more. Instead of dabbling with various SEO tasks that do not generate results, you can refine your SEO strategies to achieve better results.
So what’s next…
So, it’s your call now.
Which of the listed SEO techniques in this blog posts you want to try out?
Are you going to focus on creating long-form content?
Or you want to improve your site’s UX
Whatever you do, make sure to consistently implementing SEO strategies for long-term success. SEO is not a set and forget the digital marketing strategy.
SEO is rapidly evolving and you need to adapt and act fast to perform better than your competitors.
And never ignore the fundamentals of SEO. Make the effort to understand them.