I’ve gotten a lot of emails and requests about search engine optimization (SEO) and how to drive more traffic to websites, so I thought I’d write a post on this very hot topic. SEO and site traffic are intricately intertwined, so it doesn’t make sense to talk about one without the other. SEO isn’t just about getting your site at the top of a Google search, but rather it’s about increasing the relevance and availability of your site so users can find your content more easily. SEO is very important to any website as it makes content easier to find, drives traffic and generally results in a better experience for users. If employed properly, effective content and SEO techniques can be used in tandem to drive traffic to your site, which can then increase your site ranking. There are tons of things you can do to increase site traffic and optimize your site for search, but I’m going to focus on just a few.

Popular Search Engines

Set Up Analytics
You can’t change what you can’t measure, so the first thing you should do is set up some analytics for your site to benchmark how it’s performing. Google offers a pretty good (and free) suite of tools, including Google Analytics (GA) and Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), and I’ll focus on those below. There are many similar options you could use, including some from Bing, but the key message is to get analytics set up and assess how your site is performing.

Google Analytics Dashboard

 

As you can see above, Google Analytics provides some pretty good info about your site. I could write an entire article just on how to set up Google Analytics and what you can do with it (please let me know if you’re interested), but the takeaway is that the first step of setting analytics up is crucial in optimizing your site and increasing traffic. All websites can be improved, and once you’ve set up analytics you can then assess which areas need the most work and prioritize your to-do list. And Google Analytics helps make that assessment easier. The dashboard offers some valuable information at a glance, including pageviews, average time on site, number of pages per visit, what percentage of visitors are new, where your traffic is coming from (search engines, referral sites, direct traffic or other) and more. You can even see where your visitors are located globally. Additionally, you can compare timeframes, so you can see whether your efforts are paying off.

Dig down deeper within Google Analytics, and you can get even more details: what browsers and operating systems your visitors are using (great for testing), what screen resolution your visitors have their screens set to, what sites are sending traffic to your site, what keywords are driving traffic to your site and more. You can even link your Adwords account and find more info about how your ads and keywords are performing.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is another great tool you should think about implementing. It provides valuable search data, such as the number of backlinks to your site, a list of crawl errors, a list of broken pages and more. It even helps you to submit your sitemap to Google and tells you how Google sees your XML sitemap. And both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools can be used with multiple sites.

Optimize Your Site and Content for Search
I’m not the first to point it out, but it warrants reiterating that many marketers are so eager to get their site up and running that they only consider search engine optimization (SEO) after the fact. There is definitely a “build it and they will come” mentality, which I sort of believe is natural actually. But to get your site ranked and indexed by search engines, there are a few ‘housekeeping’ items I suggest you strongly consider for your site (preferably before go live).

  • Make sure every page has meta keywords and meta descriptions. The importance of meta keywords and meta descriptions is hotly debated, but since most search engines keep their exact ranking criteria secret, and this is easy and quick to implement, why not do it? Plus meta descriptions show up under your page title in search results, so a clear and compelling description increases the chances that someone will click on your link.
  • Use alt text/tool tips for all links and images. This is another quick and easy thing that most people simply forget to do or put off until later. But it will make your site more accessible and therefore rank higher in search. Tip: Use keywords in image file names and alt text.
  • Make sure you have a sitemap (preferably XML) and submit it to search engines. XML sitemaps make indexing your site easier for search engines. And anything that makes their jobs easier mean more traffic to your site. Plus it enhances the customer experience. Even if you site is just a few pages big, an XML sitemap should be created. There are plenty of tools to create an XML sitemap for you, so use one of those and upload it to your site. Tip: Make sure to upload your sitemap to your site’s root and name it “sitemap.xml.” The direct link to your sitemap should look something like http://www.johnmossmarketing.com/sitemap.xml
  • Get rid of all those dead links and pages. Nothing can turn a visitor off like a dead page or link, and it makes your site look unprofessional. So use tools, like Google Webmaster Tools, to identify any dead links or pages and fix/remove them. Tip: Remember to remove dead pages from your sitemap.
  • Make sure your robots.txt file is set up correctly. This file does a lot of things, but one very important thing is does is it allows search bots to crawl (and therefore index) your site. Or it can tell the search bots not to crawl certain pages you want to be crawled. Make sure you have a robots.txt file in your root and that it’s working correctly.
  • Research keywords to find good ones to use on your site. There are a lot of tools out there to help you find keywords for your site, but one that I suggest is Traffic Travis. In addition to keyword research, Traffic Travis has some other cool functionality that you may find helpful.
  • Use questions for the title of your pages and posts. This helps because many people type questions directly into search instead of playing the keyword-guessing game in which we’re all familiar. Try posing the question exactly how you think a potential visitor would word it, and the relevance of your page to the keywords will cause it to rank higher.
  • Use good keywords in your page titles. The keyword research you did earlier will come in handy again. By using keywords in your page titles, search engines will rank your page higher for those terms.
  • Make sure your site is set up for permalinks. What are you more likely to remember: yourdomain.com/WebForm/viewPage.aspx?categoryId=246 or yourdomain.com/title-of-your-page? The one that uses keywords and a title in the page’s link makes more ‘sense’ and is easier to understand for humans, and search engines also prefer links with titles and keywords.
  • Monitor keyword density. The percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a page compared to the total number of words on the page is known as keyword density. Obviously you want to use keywords in your content, but it’s also important to pepper your content with your keywords at a sufficient density. Too low and it would seem that your page isn’t relevant for those keywords. Too high and the search engines may think you’re engaging in search/keyword spamming. Wikipedia suggests a keyword density of 1-3%, but I like a higher percentage, maybe 3-5%. Wikipedia also links to a few tools you can use to check on your site’s keyword density: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyword_density

 

Get Backlinks
The thinking behind a backlink strategy is pretty simple. When search engines see that a certain site or webpage has a number of other sites/pages linking back to it, it assumes the page receiving site/page links to be highly popular and relevant. And the more popular and relevant a site is, the higher it is ranked. So you can see why a good backlink strategy should part of your larger marketing plan. The best backlinks are ones that are from a highly ranked “dofollow” site using your keywords in the displayed text. Here are some tools and ideas for you to incorporate into your backlinks activities:

  • Comment on dofollow sites. And make sure to link back to your site using your keywords. The Follow List provides a list of sites that are dofollow sites. Inline SEO is a search engine that can help you find dofollow blogs that cater to your audience. And Website Link Building Strategies provides a list of high-ranked dofollow blogs.
  • Create an account at Technorati. And ping it when your site/blog changes.
  • Use a ping service. For example, pingomatic can be used to ping RSS aggregators.
  • Submit your site/blog to directories. Robin Good’s list of RSS directories and DMOZ are good places to start. Listible.com is another good resource.
  • Leave comments on blogs. Make sure to include your site’s URL and focus on related niches to increase relevancy.
  • Put your URL in your signatures. Add your URL to everything from email signatures to forum signatures.
  • Enable social media. Provide visitors an easy way to share your site and content to ALL social bookmarking sites.
  • Get .edu links. Search for .edu sites and get links back to your site. They usually have a high page rank.

 

Promote Your Site
It sounds obvious, but promoting your site is probably one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. And if you follow a few tips in promoting your site, you will also get some links, thereby helping your SEO efforts. Try some of these tactics:

  • Tell your friends. Tell them about your site and specific posts, pages and functionality, and be sure to use your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. accounts.
  • Answer forum questions. Target forums related to your industry and link to one of your pages that offers info about the question.
  • Use signatures. Put your URL in your email and forum signatures.
  • Write press releases. There are a lot of low- or no-cost solutions that make it easy to distribute your releases.
  • Answer questions at Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers is a great place to answer questions that have to do with your industry. Make sure to add a link back to your site where people can get more info.
  • Set up a MyYahoo feed. Doing so will help Yahoo keep better track of your site.
  • Use RSS feeds. They are easy to set up, and be sure to make it easy for visitors to sign up for your feed.
  • Make your pages Digg/Reddit/etc. friendly. The easier it is, the more likely visitors will share your pages. And don’t be afraid to ask them to share.
  • Submit articles. Submit your best articles to article directories.
  • Exchange ads. Find complementary sites and ask them to exchange ads for a set time. Not only will it drive traffic to your site, but the other site gets good traffic from yours, you have a potential ad customer.
  • Plaster your URL everywhere. Put it on everything that goes out, including business cards, stationary, mailing labels, etc.
  • Distribute videos. Publish on YouTube and post your URL at the beginning and end of every video.
  • Use wikis, including wikipedia. Find wikis related to your site or industry and to submit your content to those pages.
  • Get your site reviewed. Submit your site to free review sites like CoolSiteoftheDay.

 

Provide Useful and Unique Content
Content is still king, so make sure to provide quality content, and you will see traffic explode. Here are a few simple ideas for content creation:

  • Make lists. People love Top 5, Top 10 lists.
  • Use pictures. No one wants just boring text.
  • Use video. It’s relatively cheap to produce for the web, and will drive up the time visitors spend on your site. You can even use YouTube to host your videos to cut down on hosting costs. Just make sure it’s not too long or takes too long to buffer.
  • Write for beginners. Don’t forget those looking for introductory info.
  • Use easy-to-read fonts. Make it easy to read on the web, and stick to common fonts.
  • Look professional. Proofread your content to avoid typos, and make sure your site design is professional looking.
  • Don’t forget your navigation. Make your site is easy to navigate, and it will be easier to find your great content.
  • Reply. If your site supports comments, reply to every authentic question (get a good spam filter to save time). Do the same with emails.
  • Translate. Install a translation plug-in or use a translation service to broaden the appeal of your content.
  • Post frequently. Set up a schedule (monthly, weekly, daily or hourly) and stick to it.
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52 Responses to “SEO and How to Drive Traffic to Your Website”

  1. Hello, have you ever had the opportunity to try out market samurai since it was launched? I purchased it and I gota admit all I’ve used it for is the rank checker :|

  2. Seoline says:

    great tips. i also think, that seo traffic is extremly good traffic, if you rank with important keywords.

  3. Very good article. I do many of these things. Sometimes people fail to really use their creative juices for off site SEO. In addition to SEO branding is almost as important. I once needed to order an alarm system and remembered a phone number just from their radio commercials playing over the years. Their branding work simply because I remembered the easy phone number and did not want to waste time looking through the yellow pages. I give a free gift to all of my subscribers, a bumper sticker. I have thousands of these plastered on the backs of bumpers all around the world.

  4. Very good article. I do many of these things. Sometimes people fail to really use their creative juices for off site SEO. In addition to SEO branding is almost as important. I once needed to order an alarm system and remembered a phone number just from their radio commercials playing over the years. Their branding work simply because I remembered the easy phone number and did not want to waste time looking through the yellow pages. I give a free gift to all of my subscribers, a bumper sticker. I have thousands of these plastered on the backs of bumpers all around the world.

  5. Fuzzy says:

    I’ll agree with many of your tips and suggestion, but I will add that I think you could offer some better advice for obtaining links; low value links from user-generated content tend to decay rapidly and contribute less to your rankings over time. Obtaining editorial additions on static pages provide long term value that search engines love.

  6. Google local business listings is fast becoming the “New” Seo for local businesses. The Google seven pack may soon be more important that traditional, organic SEO for small businesses. Local business owners can do many of these tasks in-house with a little bit of training!

    See Free Video

  7. Chris Wright says:

    I must agree with the last comment, with Google giving prime positions to local businesses using geo terms it would be stupid to ignore your local market. Great tips but the very nature of SEO means that ranking competitive terms takes time and investment. Work you local market first to get a quick income them re invest back into long terms SEM goals

  8. Gwen says:

    Outstanding article! And very comprehensive. In the four years I’ve been involved in SEO however, I’ve only really been involved in article marketing/submission. I’m not saying that this is the only effective technique there is. What I’m saying is that if you are hard pressed for time, you need to pick a few strategies that work well and concentrate on them. In my case, article marketing has worked well for me and my clients.

  9. That was a very good beginners guide to SEO. You pretty much nailed it on the head.

  10. futon covers says:

    There are a lot of ways to drive traffic to your website some are free and others are not. Most of the methods may require a lot of hard work and patience, but it can also be very exciting as you start seeing results.

  11. Excellent post.So far this is the best article I’ve read about SEO and site traffic. SEO really changed the way we do business. One SEO task is link building, and that’s just 1/4 of the total site optimization. There are a lot of ways you can optimize your site.

  12. Nice post. This is very helpful for newbie SEO’s like my self. Thanks to this post I now have more knowledge about link building and site traffic. Thanks again.

  13. Great list of good SEO things. If your niche is competitive you have to do a lot of things that you’ll get traffic from search engines.

  14. Coiled Cable says:

    Cool tips. I used some of the tips you mentioned above. Now I will add those strategy to get traffic for my site. Nice post. Thank you for this useful post.

  15. This article is informative and provides food for thought. Very good post bringing in a number of influences and points of view. SEO also increases the relevancy of the traffic. The more relevant your traffic, the better the odds that those who click on your site in the search engine returns will be looking for what you offer, meaning more conversions in the way of sales, ads, or affiliates, sign ups for your newsletter, or whatever action you want you want your visitors to take.

    Jaiden

  16. Excellent article! It is undeniable that SEO is a crucial part of marketing your website over the internet. Every online business owner has to conduct one form of SEO strategy or another to be able to attract traffic to the website. But implementing effective SEO strategies is not that simple because there are a variety of elements that search engines look into before they rank your page at the top. In line with this, here are some simple tips to use SEO as a tool to drive traffic to your site. Don’t use trickery. Try to avoid tricking the search engines to make your site rank high. Search engines today are becoming more sophisticated and it will penalize any website that tries to fool it.

  17. Zak Show says:

    Very good and in dept article, SEO is considered as the first source and the best quality traffic because it brings people from search engine who are interested in your content and are ready to convert. I enjoyed reading your article as it contains too much useful information in a simple and clear way!
    And I agree and I believe that the best strategy is to provide unique and quality content.

  18. Everything you’ve listed takes time and needs someone with the necessary expertise and experience to ensure it’s done properly.

    It’s always amusing when someone says that they can get a website for their business for $150. Will it even be pretty, never mind optimised for search engines and traffic, when it’s so cheap? Doubtful…

  19. Thanks for a very thorough article on SEO and site traffic. I found it really easy to understand and it’s really helpful information which I will remember when writing my own blog!

  20. The goal of Search Engine Optimizing a site is to increase traffic, but smart SEO also increases the relevancy of the traffic. The more relevant your traffic, the better the odds that those who click on your site in the search engine returns will be looking for what you offer, meaning more conversions in the way of sales, ads, or affiliates, sign ups for your newsletter, or whatever action you want you want your visitors to take.

  21. Yes, the relevancy of traffic is important. Usually 50 high targeted visitors converts much more better compared to 2000 not targeted visitors.

  22. There are a lot of SEO strategies, wherein some are effective and some aren’t that much of help at all. Just do whatever you can to drive traffic to your site but just be careful not to spam your keywords in a single site. Always try for the best strategy to help you get better rankings for your site. Thanks for this post.

  23. audio books says:

    This is very helpful for beginners like me. I just have started to set up my own blog site and I too want to have more traffic as much as possible. I look forward for you next tips.

  24. pikalaina says:

    Thanks for your tips how to get backlinks. This is information what I’m looking for. Very useful and helpful post about SEO.

  25. These are great strategies for increasing traffic to your site. Posting backlinks on quality sites will really help boost your site to a high ranking. Just avoid spamming as well.

  26. SEO could be considered as excellent strategy for increasing your trasffic with your website and your business. Backlink is an useful method to analyse the competitor and get links for my website.

  27. Attorney says:

    There are two kind of SEO one is that on page optimization where you optimize your website’s content and second is the off page optimization. Where strategies like creating backlinks are used to increase the traffic of your site. It is very important to consider both.

  28. seo says:

    Thank you for sharing your understanding about the SEO and traffic here. The objective of seo is to optimise your website to bring your website more traffic. There are several strategies in seo such as blog comments. Backlinks is the method help your seo and has been considered as useful.

  29. pikalainaa says:

    Thanks for very good tips. Those are all significant things but I think backlinks are still the most important thing. It’s always good to diversify your backlinks.

  30. Miss Sonia says:

    PageRank is an algorithim google invented that assesses the strength of a website. The algorithim evaluates a site on a scale of n/a to 10 with 0 being the lowest/weakest and 10 being the highest/strongest. We can check our site’s rank by using a pagerank checker tool.

  31. SEO Service says:

    Thanks for your tips how to get backlinks. I’ll agree with many of your tips and suggestion.There are two kind of SEO one is that on page optimization where you optimize your website’s content and second is the off page optimization.

  32. Google Analytics is indeed a very powerful tool that can help any mushrooming business venture strike the right chords.

    Personally, I swear by a good mix of on-site and off-site SEO, as I believe that the links that lead visitors to any company’s website should correspondingly make their search worthwhile by giving them what they need – instead of crappy content.

    Content Writing India

  33. Lainaa says:

    I think Google has changed the algorithm for backlinks. I mean it’s very important that backlinking looks natural and you diversify backlinks.

  34. We all know meta tags are so much important in on page SEO.But I think meta keywords has no vale in one page,right now.I think now we should only focus on mats title and meta description.Because we know if we ll place our targeted keywords in title tags or description tags both of them ll display as snippet in search results.Then why we should place meta keywords?

  35. Thi is a fantastic help regarding SEO. I am totally impressed.

  36. hats shop says:

    There are two kind of SEO one is that on page optimization where you optimize your website’s content and second is the off page optimization. Where strategies like creating backlinks are used to increase the traffic of your site.

  37. In my experience with blogging, and SEO I’ve found that the best way to improve your search engine rankings is by creating great content. If your content is valuable, you are going to generate the backlinks organically instead of having to actively seeking them via directories or other practices.

  38. sanji says:

    Great! But since the Panda Update, are you still using article marketing for SEO? I mean, those content farms are getting low PR right?

  39. Hi John,

    Your post really helped me to understand the way to drive traffic to our websites. It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.
    That’s what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.

    Thanks for sharing.

  40. @ Sanji….You are right after panda update google is now giving more importance to unique and fresh content. But we all know the role of article directories so I don’t think it ll have any affect on article marketing with Panda update.Because by doing little changes in articles you can do perfect article marketing.But only need to post articles on quality article directories not at all.
    Thanks

  41. Kredit says:

    Really good article about SEO. I think the is nothing more to add. It is very important and they have also said high-quality, readable and above all things unique content. Without proper content you need to start not at the link building. Good blog here.

  42. I always thought you release the press releases and articles to up the ranking of your own customized SEO pages in your domain.

  43. Hi John,
    This is so far the best advice I’ve read on the SEO topic because it is structured, short, and you gave us really useful links to read in order to better understand each point, or to be able to test our website. For beginners it might be a bit overwhelming, but no-one said it would be easy to start out in a new field of work. Your article is perfect for bookmarking and using as a basic guideline for a to-do list; all the areas one has to learn about and understand are listed, so now the job is to self-educate oneself and start putting one’s knowledge into practice.
    Best regards,
    Leonard Evenson

  44. iPad 16gb says:

    Hi John,

    I enjoyed reading “SEO and How To Drive Traffic to Your Website.”

    The “game” of SEO changes so often that one has to stay abreast of the developments. If not, one can get left behind. As the saying goes, “adapt or die.”

  45. The strategies laid out here are very basic but still are very significant things to do so a website will function accordingly. I wonder if there are new strategies in SEO.

  46. There are various activities in the process of SEO, by performing all the activities gives boost to a website and drive traffic. building link to relevant resource gives positive impact in the ranking of website, So more chances to search your website by the users

  47. I rather favor stat counter over Google Analytics. Although Google Analytics have gotten better with their instant tracking now.

  48. Godot Media says:

    Just like other major Google tools, Analytics is going through some huge changes right now. Google seems to be on the top of its game as far as web analytics is concerned, but there could be some major contenders in the offing.

  49. These are some really great SEO tips, even though this post is 3 years old. You focused on the timeless aspects of SEO. Great job.

  50. These are all great ways to drive traffic to a website. But i guess the best is providing a good content and using the right keywords. Thanks for this tips.

    hospital marketing

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