In today’s increasingly connected world, your online presence is more important than ever. Having a website & organic traffic flowing to it is key to attracting potential new customers and building a relationship with them—most American consumers are more likely to think that a business is trustworthy if it has a website than if it doesn’t.
However, you probably already know that. You’re a savvy business owner ready to conquer the modern market, of course you have your own website! The problem is getting people to see it when they are flooded with billions of Internet pages.
Even though paid advertising can get your website in front of more eyeballs, organic traffic is the best way to increase visits to your website without spending too much money. Optimizing your SEO results will help you rank higher on Google’s search engines, which in turn will help you get your website in front of more people.
You have so much else on your plate, you don’t have time to also become a master of web design and search engine optimization. That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of tips for making sure potential customers see your wonderful website.
What is Organic Traffic and SEO?
Many advice pages to small business owners mention the importance of driving organic traffic through great SEO practices, but don’t bother defining those terms. If you’re confused, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Being a small business owner nowadays means wearing many hats, including that of webmaster, and sometimes there’s a bit of a learning curve.
Organic traffic simply refers to the number of visitors that come to your website from unpaid sources, usually search engines. This is in contrast to direct traffic, when people directly come to your website by typing it into the browser, and traffic generated by paid advertising.
Organic referrals are important for small businesses for a few reasons. Primarily, it is more sustainable than paid ads or relying on people memorizing your website. You spend less money on marketing and actually earn more money. Leads generated through organic searches are more likely to become paying customers because they sought your business out yourself.
However, to get more people to find your website through search engines, your website has to rank higher than your competitors’ websites—after all, everybody knows that being on the second page of Google usually means invisibility. The process of improving your website so Google’s algorithms rank it higher is search engine optimization, or SEO.
Search engine optimization is not just on task, but several different processes to please Google’s robots that decide algorithm rankings. There are a few online schools that teach you best practices, such as MOZ’s online courses. To get you started, here are a few tips to improve your website traffic.
1. Improve Your Website’s Technical Layout
When most people learn about SEO, the first thing that they fixate on is keyword searches. However, capturing specific keywords is not the only way to improve your website ranking. Technical search engine optimization is often just as important but neglected.
Google’s algorithm ranks websites not due to arbitrary criteria but based on how useful they think your website is to their users. That includes the content, but the robots that trawl the Internet also factor in the user experience. If your website is difficult to navigate or use, then your ranking will be affected. Redesigning your website with an eye towards UX will ensure more people get to see it.
One of the most important factors in technical optimization is designing a mobile-friendly site. According to some reports, smartphone users account for 50% of all web traffic globally so your website should be useful to those customers.
Making sure your website loads quickly and uses encryption tools such as SSL is another way of showing Google that you are putting your customers first.
2. Publish Regular Content to Increase Organic Traffic
Nowadays, just having a website listing your products, services, contact form, and maybe a cute origin story is not enough. Google prioritizes websites that update regularly, showing that customers will have up-to-date information.
One of the best ways to ensure a regular stream of content is to have a marketing blog. A blog section on your website allows you to regularly publish new articles without clogging up relevant posts on your main homepage. Many consumers will also check out the blog section to get an idea of your expertise, so these posts are a great way to show off your knowledge about your field.
Your blog content should be unique and useful to the reader. Google’s robots are very strict when it comes to plagiarism and they will knock down your search results if they notice that your content is copied from elsewhere on the web, including your own previous blog posts.
Your blog posts should also cover topics that are relevant to readers. Nobody wants to read several variations on “why my business is the best!” Instead, use your blogs to talk about potential problems that your business addresses as well as latest developments in your industry.
If you’re unsure about where to start, don’t worry. Nobody expects a small business blog to be Pulitzer-prize worthy. You already have the knowledge; you just have to write from the heart. Here are a few tips from us to help you think about formatting your blogs.
3. Work On Which Keywords You Target
One of the most important ways that SEO works is by targeting keywords. Keywords refer to the terms that people search in Google. When you rank highly for a specific keyword, that means users are more likely to see your content when they search for it.
In fact, specific keywords are the key to driving organic traffic to your website. Think about it, if you’re trying to rank highly for a generic keyword, such as “small business,” you have much more competition, including massive businesses that have the money to invest in search engine optimization and paid ads.
Long-tail keywords, or keyword phrases that have more words and are more specific, are far more useful for small businesses. First of all, there is far less competition. Fewer websites are trying to rank for “dog groomers in Idaho that dye hair” than for “dog groomers” in general. Users searching for long-tail keywords are also more likely to convert into paying customers because they are searching for a specific service.
Once you know which keywords you are targeting, you need to know how you will use them. Most people know that you should use keywords in the text, but your content will rank higher if you use it in meta descriptions, titles, and image descriptions.
You also need to strike a balance between using your keyword frequently enough to attract the attention of Google’s robots and using it too much. Not only will your blog post feel clunky to your reader if you repeat the same keyword over and over again, but Google might also penalize you for spamming.
4. Guest Post—and Invite Others to Post on Your Site
Another way to organically get your website in front of more potential customers is to post on other blogs or sites. Guest posting exposes your business to a new potential audience. Plus, when you link to your website in your post or in your bio, Google uses those backlinks to rank your website higher. When another website links to yours, that shows Google that your website is trustworthy.
When you’re thinking about where to guest post, think about your niche and other sites that work on that niche (excluding direct competitors). For example, if you have a dog grooming business, reach out to a local blog about pets to write something for them. That way, your potential new audience is already interested in your niche.
You can even create a reciprocal relationship with fellow small business owners where you guest post for their blogs and then you publish one of their posts. For example, work with a local dog treat maker and both of your websites will see more traffic.
Guest posting is a great way to drive organic traffic to your website as long as you follow Google’s rules. If your content looks like spam, for example if it has too many links or is poorly written, Google might actually drop your ranking as punishment.
5. Text Alone Won’t Drive Your Organic Traffic
When’s the last time you went on a website and all you saw was walls and walls of text? Probably not since the 1990s. Modern website design requires plenty of graphics, photos, and even video to hold a user’s attention.
Having plenty of images won’t just make your website more attractive, it will also increase the traffic to your site. Google changed its Search algorithm to push more images even in regular results, so your image might attract more traffic than a regular blog post on your website.
While stock photography is helpful in making your website look attractive to users, try to make original graphics and photographs if you can. Then, other websites are likely to use your graphics and link back to your site, driving more traffic.
Video content is also important to driving more traffic. Embedding video directly into your blog posts can help improve your rankings on Google. Sharing video on social media platforms such as YouTube can then drive traffic back to your website.
6. Use Social Media to Drive More Organic Traffic to Your Website
While most organic traffic still comes from search engine results, social media is becoming more and more important for small business owners. According to Statista, nearly 40% of young Americans use social media to purchase things at least sometimes. Your social media profiles are also a great way to drive more traffic to your website via clicks from your profile.
The key to making social media work as a small business owner, especially if you’re doing everything by yourself, is to know your limits. Don’t try to make a profile on every single platform. Instead, make a Facebook page and one or two other profiles and focus on posting regularly.
Be sure to include links to your website in your bio and share your blog posts on social media to generate more clicks. Now that Instagram added a link sticker feature for all accounts, linking back to your website from social media is easier than ever and can help improve traffic.
7. Use Email Subscribers to Generate More Traffic
Email marketing often gets overshadowed by new, shinier forms of marketing such as social media and text outreach, but it remains one of the best ways to reach customers. An email list is also a great way to drive traffic to your website.
When you send out an email to your subscribers, besides listing new products and promotions, include links to blog posts you think customers might find interesting. Then, readers are likely to click on the link to read your blog, improve your traffic numbers, and potentially linger on your site until they buy something.
When readers visit your site thanks to traffic from a search engine, make sure that they see a contact form where they can give you their email. You want to turn traffic into returning traffic and potentially paying leads.
Email marketing can be a powerful tool to drive traffic to your website and money to your bank account, but you should use it sparingly. Customers are likely to delete emails without reading them or even unsubscribe if you email them too often. Send out a newsletter once a week or once every two weeks instead of emailing your customers every time you publish a new blog post.
The Importance of Organic Web Traffic
When so much of business in America is conducted online, getting your website in front of potential customers is more important than ever. While you can rely on paid ads, generating organic web traffic is a more cost-efficient and effective way of getting new visitors and turning them into paying customers.
By optimizing your website for search engines, regularly posting new content, and using innovative strategies such as video content and social media, you can improve traffic to your site. Stay vigilant & you’ll see results!
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.