Originally published in Website Magazine
Your website can have the most compelling content, the most inviting visuals, the most insightful user interface and yet it can fail to deliver the impact you’re looking for because it’s missing the most important ingredient: visitors. While you can (and possibly should) bring in visitors through paid search methods, the best things in life are free, which is why you’ll want to make your brand’s website one that search engines love to rank highly and send relevant, unpaid traffic to.
Here are perhaps the top four ways to get that done:
Using Google Webmaster Tools will allow you to see which keyword searches your website is appearing in, and view how many impressions and clicks you’re getting because of those placements. Where your site listing ranks in searches is certainly important, another key concept most companies ignore is that the listing itself is your marketing message for your website. Think of your site’s title and description as the call to action you present searchers with. Test different messaging in your title and description and review how well your messages are performing with your search audience, then optimize that content. Using the data from Google Webmaster Tools, you can track the click-through rate for your organic listing and see how the title and description changes affect your clickability.
Driving traffic via organic search is all well and good, but are your visitors reading your content and then immediately leaving? Search engines are using bounce rate metrics as a ranking signal. Keeping those visitors on your website not only helps you better engage your audience, but also has the opportunity to assist in your organic ranking. Have links to related content prominently placed at the end of content pieces. Place in-content links where searchers can further explore a concept they might not be as familiar with. This interaction helps make the most of each visit you receive from organic search. Also, make sure that your site runs smoothly and your pages load swiftly. Think of it this way: If they have to wait, that’ll increase your bounce rate.
When search engines see that your site links to external content and that those links are getting clicks, they recognize your site as a trusted source for expertise. Of course, linking to another site enhances that site’s SEO, so use this technique infrequently and precisely. Done correctly, your visitors will find and appreciate value in the content you connect them with, and search engines will see you as an important player in your brand category’s ecosystem.