Search engine referalls provide the majority of traffic for most websites. And despite increasing sophistication in the goals & KPIs we set for our sites, traffic usually underpins most of them.
There are 2 basic ways to generate search traffic:
- Organic search results using search engine optimisation
- Paid search – running ads that appear with search results for specific trigger keywords or phrases.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
There are a few aspects to search engine optimisation but it’s not rocket science. It basically involves:
A technical check: making sure search engine robots can crawl your site, there’s no duplicate content, updated sitemaps are supplied to robots & messy areas you don’t want crawled are clearly blocked.
Targeting the right keywords: when people search they type specific keywords or phrases into search engines. To maximise traffic, webmasters perform keyword research to see what volume of searches are conducted with words and phrases relating to their topic. Then they need to optimise their pages for these. That means making sure nested headings use the right words, that variations are repeated throughout the text, alternate image text & filename features the keywords & importantly the page title tag & meta tags are keyword rich.
Creating inbound links: Equally important is getting a lot of inbound links to your page, using the targetted keyword phrase as anchor text. This includes your own pages, which should link to each other.
A technical audit to ensure pages are crawler friendly & optimised for appropriate keywords can make a massive difference to traffic. Link building is often a slower process, but over time a focus on gathering inbound links will pay off. A presence on social media & encouraging the viral sharing of your messages will also benefit SEO.
Paid search is often the poor cousin of organic search. The click through rates (CTR) for paid search ads are much lower, but for very competitive keyword phrases, where there’s little hope of an organic ranking, they’re a very valuable tool.
You can target ads geographically or to appear on specific content partner sites. You can also target by device (e.g. mobile) or run video ads on YouTube. Because you have total control of your budget & can either pay per click or by impressions (number of times ads are shown) you’re really in a win-win situation.
Programs like Google Adwords provide free vouchers for new starters to try the system & if you get some help setting up your account & your campaigns, maintaining them isn’t too difficult. Especially when you’ve integrated tracking with Google Analytics & can see the impact on your KPIs!