Figuring out how to increase organic traffic is usually the #1 goal of most website owners. Creating incredible content is only part of the battle – the rest is getting people to read it!
The good news is that increasing organic traffic is not as difficult as you might think! But if you want your blog post to appear at the top of the search engine results pages, you need to implement a variety of search engine optimization (“SEO”) techniques.
In this guide, I want to walk you through 15 steps that will help you learn how to increase organic traffic. You don’t have to complete every step. Even fixing one or two items on this list could skyrocket your organic search traffic.
In the guide, we’ll start with the lowest-hanging fruit and work our way up to more time-intensive optimizations. These are tried-and-true methods that work on every site.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. It’s the most widely used web analytics service on the internet.
Google Search Console is a free webmaster tool offered by Google that helps you monitor your site’s search engine visibility. It also provides essential data about your website’s indexing, page experience, mobile visibility, and more.
If you have a WordPress site, installing both tools is super easy. Download the “Site Kit by Google” plugin, which will walk you through the process.
You could follow all of the other tips on this blog to a T. But if you ignore your page load speed, there’s a good chance all of those efforts will go to waste.
Think about the last time you visited a slow website. If it took more than a few seconds to load, you probably closed it and went elsewhere.
Google knows that web users don’t like slow websites. So they’ve emphasized having site owners improve their speed and page experience. They created a tool, PageSpeed Insights, that will show your site speed and areas for improvement.
Here are a few easy ways to increase site speed:
When it comes to web hosting, you get what you pay for.
Cheap hosts will typically have shared servers, which means your website will be on the same server as many other websites. This can slow down your site speed because all those websites compete for limited resources.
You can still get a fast site using cheaper hosts. But you’ll likely need to hire a site speed optimizer.
On the other hand, more expensive hosts typically have less crowded servers and focus on speed. They give your website the resources it needs to load quickly and perform well.
We use WPX as our host for Jumpcoast, and highly recommend their service. They have been rated as the fastest web host on the market based on several independent speed tests. And if you’re having trouble, they have lightning-fast customer support response times.
If you already have a web host, WPX will migrate your website to their plan for free, so it’s super easy to get started.
The biggest perk of purchasing from WPX is that they’ll optimize your website speed for free. So if you purchase hosting with them, they will completely take care of site speed for you.
If you’re looking for a way to speed up your WordPress site, plugins like Shortpixel and WP Rocket can be a big help.
Shortpixel optimizes your images, which can help to reduce their size and improve page load speed. Shortpixel has a free version, but you can pay $9.99 to get 10,000 image optimizations (more than enough for just about every blog out there).
WP Rocket costs $49/year for one site. If you’re on a budget and need free alternatives to WP Rocket, check out this post from Authority Hacker.
We use both of these plugins on Jumpcoast and they are super easy to use. They make a huge difference in our website speed, as you can see below:
Every millisecond matters in terms of site speed. So if you want a further boost on top of the plugins above, hiring a site speed optimizer can be a great option.
Site speed optimizers are experts in improving website performance and can significantly improve your page load speeds
As mentioned above, WPX will complete a free site speed optimization if you purchase hosting with them. But if you don’t want to switch, you can try Upwork.
I hired an expert site speed optimizer for my other site, NameBounce, on Upwork for $500. However, NameBounce is not built in WordPress, so you might be able to find a more affordable price if you have a WordPress site.
Google defines page experience as a “set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”
In Google Search Console, page experience consists of three items: Core Web Vitals, Mobile Usability, and HTTPS. To see how your site rates, head to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or look in Google Search Console directly.
To increase website traffic, you first need to target the right keywords.
First, let’s explain what keywords are. They are the search queries that people type into search engines when they’re looking for information. Here are some examples:
“Weather in Los Angeles Today”
“Best Black Friday Lawn Mower Deals”
“Dentists Near Me”
Before you start publishing content, it’s helpful to create a keyword research plan. An iron-clad plan ensures you won’t waste time creating content that no one will read. On top of that, it will give you months of blog post ideas!
Several keyword research tools can help you with this. The best place to get started is Google Keyword Planner (100% free), or with a free trial to a tool like SEMRush. My favorite keyword research tool is Ahrefs, which costs $99/month.
After you find a promising keyword, there are three main factors you have to consider: search volume, competition, and search intent. Search volume is straightforward; the more people that search for a keyword, the more traffic that eventually comes to your website. Let’s dive into the other two items below:
Competition refers to the difficulty of reaching the top 10 results on Google.
Let’s say you Google your target keyword, and it’s filled with well-written articles from Forbes, CNET, and the New York Times. Odds are, your website won’t be able to rank for this keyword without a heavy investment in links (which we’ll get into later).
However, you might find some “long tail keywords” with low volume but tons of scammy-looking sites in the top 10. If so, a relevant, well-written post could rank, even with a minimal investment in link building.
There are two primary categories of search intent: informational and transactional.
Informational keywords are those that are used to find information. For example, you might look search “Local News,” “The Best Road Trips in Upstate New York,” or “Amazon Contact Us Page.”
People who use these keywords seek a specific answer or solution to a problem. They’re typically not in “buying mode.” Most sites in this instance will monetize with advertising or by capturing the visitor’s email address and following up with them later.
On the other hand, transactional keywords are used by people looking to make a purchase.
People who use these keywords are usually far along in their buying and are looking for a product or service that meets their needs. They might be comparing reviews, looking for alternative services, or trying to find the best price.
An example would be if I searched “best web hosting plans.” If I searched that, it’s likely because I’m looking to buy web hosting, and I want to find the best option for my needs.
Mix in a healthy dose of informational and transactional keywords, and you’ll have an excellent foundation for driving search traffic to your blog.
When you’re creating a website, it’s important to think about how you want your URLs to look.
Ideally, you want your URLs to be simple and easy to understand. This will make it easier for search engines to crawl your site and for visitors to navigate it.
Here are three tips to fix your URL structure:
Remove layers. Generally, I recommend limiting all your URLs to a maximum of one subfolder after the base URL. This is what we do with https://www.jumpcoast.com/how-to-increase-organic-traffic and https://www.jumpcoast.com/category/digital-marketing. If necessary, you can add a second subfolder, but I wouldn’t recommend going beyond that.
Use hyphens to separate words. Google recommends using them instead of underscores. And hyphens are way better than mashing each word together.
Merge subdomains into subfolders. It’s better to use yourdomain.com/blog instead of blog.yourdomain.com. Google generally treats subdomains as separate entities for SEO purposes.
Google also created its own URL structure guidelines. If your site has unique functionality (dynamic links, etc.) I recommend taking a quick scan through their page as well.
Headlines are a huge deal when it comes to increasing organic search traffic. If you want people to read your content, you need to write engaging headlines that get them to click on your post.
Here are some tips to help you write great headlines:
As a content writer, looking at the competition in organic search when writing headlines is essential.
Let’s say the top pages for your target keyword are “listicle” posts (for example: 10 Proven Reasons to Sealcoat Your Driveway). If so, writing a headline similar to the high-ranking posts is a surefire way to ensure your post is set up to drive organic search traffic.
Next, take a look at some common headline templates. Using lists like these is a fool-proof way to never run out of headline ideas.
Another critical step is to ensure that your primary keyword appears in your blog post headline. This helps Google understand the primary focus of your article and index it accordingly.
In addition, including your keyword in your headline makes it more likely that people will click on your article when it appears in search results. After all, if they see a headline relevant to their query, they’re much more likely to read it.
Readers LOVE numbers in headlines. On some keywords (like best fall recipe ideas), you’ll see the entire first page has headlines starting with a number. People like specificity and things that are easy to digest and understand.
After you read the tips above, you’ll have a good idea of how to create a clickable headline. Now, try to put that knowledge to the test with a headline analyzer!
The MonsterInsights headline analyzer is a fantastic tool. Aside from an overall headline score, it will show you tons of helpful tips to help you improve your headline. After you use this tool a few times, it will be easy to write strong headlines!
A meta description is a summary of a web page’s content. It’s the text you see below every search result on Google.
Although they are not directly involved in SEO, meta descriptions can indirectly influence search engine rankings by helping to increase click-through rates.
As such, it is important to take care when crafting your meta descriptions, making sure to use target keywords while also writing in a way that will entice users to click.
To add a meta description to WordPress, you can download a plugin like Rank Math (which we’ll also use in later steps).
Have you ever been to a website where you can’t find what you’re looking for? If you were frustrated by that experience, other people will be frustrated if they can’t navigate your site.
One way to avoid this problem is by using blog categories. Creating categories makes it much easier for your readers to navigate the site and find the information they seek. Google loves rewarding user-friendliness, and it makes it easier for their bot to crawl your website too.
For example, if you’re looking for a recipe, you can go to the “Food” category instead of searching the whole site.
Make sure that you add pages for each category and include them on your site. Quicksprout does this exceptionally well with its home page, which lists 15 categories right below the main banner.
Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you add to your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users.
Ever see stars below a search engine result? That’s the result of schema. (In this one, the post is using product schema to show their user’s aggregate rating of a tool).
The goal of schema markup is to make it easier for users to find the correct information on your site and improve the overall search experience.
Schema markup can also help improve your website’s click-through rate (CTR) from the SERPs and its organic search ranking. While adding schema markup to your site is not a guarantee of improved search visibility, it is certainly a worthwhile effort that can pay off in the long run.
To add schema, I highly recommend installing the RankMath plugin on WordPress. The creators of RankMath also wrote an excellent schema guide that can help you get started. One of the most straightforward schema formats to add is FAQ schema, which we’ll explore in more detail in Step #12.
A sitemap is essential for any website owner looking to increase traffic.
A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website, and it helps search engines crawl your site more effectively. Without a sitemap, it’s much harder for search engine bots to find your new posts. And if they struggle to find your posts, they may not end up including them in the search results.
Make sure you’ve restructured your URLs according to the guidelines above. Then, once that’s done, you’ll be in a great position to add your sitemap.
Here are a few helpful resources to create your sitemap automatically:
The RankMath plugin on WordPress. This plugin will automatically generate a sitemap and update it every time you create a new post.
XML-Sitemaps.com (for non-WordPress sites)
After you have your sitemap, add it to your website, and submit it via the “Sitemaps” feature on Google Search Console.
Next, I recommend conducting an SEO site audit using free online tools. Personally, I use Ahrefs’ free SEO Site Audit tool.
The Ahrefs tool will crawl all your web pages and check them against 100+ pre-defined SEO issues. Some of the biggest are performance, content quality, broken links, and internal links to other pages on your site.
After completing the audit, Ahrefs will provide you with a list of the issues and give you an overall site health score for your website.
To get started, simply enter your website. Then, the tool you choose will walk you through the rest of the process!
One of the best ways to improve your search rankings without tons of work is by refreshing and optimizing your existing blog posts.
Think about it: you already did the work to complete the post. Why not optimize it to lead to more organic traffic? You’ll benefit from a brand-new post without needing to complete the work.
Another benefit of refreshing is that fresh content is a ranking factor for Google. They’d rather showcase sites with up-to-date, high-quality content than ten-year-old low-quality content.
We offer an SEO-Focused Content Refresh Service for clients. But if you’d rather do it yourself, here’s a quick overview of what to do:
First, I recommend signing up for Surfer SEO and adding your existing blog post. Make sure to pick a target keyword and select the appropriate competitors.
Next, write 3-5 FAQs. I recommend searching your target keyword on Google, and looking at the “people also ask” section if it appears.
Next, try editing the post to include some of the terms that Surfer suggests. (You’ll need to pick a plan that includes their Natural Language Processing feature to see the complete list of terms).
Once that’s done, re-upload the post to your CMS. You can simply copy + paste it in, or if you have WordPress, utilize Surfer’s “Export to WordPress” feature. You’ll need to download their WPSurfer plugin to do this.
Next, you’ll add the schema to match your newly-created FAQ.
RankMath has a helpful FAQ schema feature that allows you to add the schema and FAQ content simultaneously.
Finally, try testing your schema using Google’s Rich Results Tester. If your FAQ
shows up as it does in the image below, you’re good! If not, go back to RankMath’s FAQ schema overview, or ask your developer for help.
After completing the previous steps, your site will have a great foundation to rank. Now that the foundation is in place, you’ll need to focus on two items: content and links.
I use Surfer SEO for content optimization. But it is expensive ($49/month for their basic plan and $99/month for the plan that includes Natural Language Processing). So if you want to optimize it on your own, check out the tips below:
Back in the day, stuffing your target keyword into your page 100 times was a surefire way to rank in search. But it’s not 1999 anymore, and Google is much smarter.
Now, you’ll need to create content that actively satisfies what the user is looking for while still communicating your page’s relevance to Google.
Enter your target keyword, and this tool will give you an optimal density and a good target word count for your post.
Another essential thing to keep in mind when optimizing your SEO content is to ensure that it is easy to read.
This means using short paragraphs (1-3 sentences per paragraph) and simple language that your target audience can easily understand.
Additionally, you should break up your content with subheadings and bullet points to make it more scannable.
In addition to making your content easy to read, you should include visuals such as images, infographics, and videos.
Not only do visuals help to break up the text, but they can also help to explain complex concepts and make your content more engaging.
If possible, use unique images as opposed to stock images wherever possible. Jasper Art is a great way to create unique images at a low cost. Another great way is by adding screenshots (which I used heavily in this post).
Guest posting is a powerful content marketing technique that can help you get more organic traffic and improve your brand’s visibility. It will give your site high-quality backlinks from authority websites, which are necessary for ranking in the search engine results pages.
In addition, guest posting can help you build relationships with other bloggers and industry leaders. By appearing on their websites, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and gain valuable exposure for your brand.
Here’s a process for guest posting:
When it comes to guest posting, the first step is finding high-quality target sites.
One great technique is to look for sites that link to your competitors, as these are likely to be interested in featuring your content. You can use backlink checker tools to automate the process – many of them are free.
Ensure that the sites you pitch to have a sufficiently high domain rating. Posting on a smaller site takes just as much work for a lower yield.
You can use Ahrefs’ Website Authority Checker to determine a site’s authority. (I usually target sites with a 40+ domain rating.)
After you find a site, you can reach out using their “contact us” form, or find the site owner’s email directly using a tool like Hunter.io.
Next, you’ll want to put together a strong outreach email.
Your pitch should be concise and straightforward and clearly articulate why your guest post is a good fit for the site. You can also include pitch ideas and let the site owner pick their favorite.
Include a link to some of your existing content or guest posts. And most importantly, make sure to follow the site’s guest posting guidelines – if they have any.
By taking the time to craft a well-targeted email, you’ll increase your chances of getting your foot in the door with some of the best sites in your industry.
Next, all you need to do is create your post! Try to have an SEO strategy behind the post, as it will help build the relationship and demonstrate your expertise.
If you and the blogger work well together, it could lead to freelance writing opportunities, additional link placement opportunities, collaboration ideas, and more.
Guest posting isn’t the only link building technique. There are a variety of other techniques that can be just as effective and won’t require the work of creating a whole post. Here are two of my favorites:
Anyone who has ever built a website knows that broken links are an inevitable part of the process.
But many people don’t realize that broken links can also be used to build links.
Let’s say someone is linking to an outdated resource. By providing an updated resource, you’re doing webmasters a favor. You get a link, and they get their broken link fixed.
To find broken links, check out Ahrefs’ guide on Broken Link Building.
HARO is a service that connects journalists with sources for expert quotes and insights.
HARO is a fantastic way to build backlinks and get brand exposure. Here’s a basic overview of how to use HARO to get backlinks::
The first step is to sign up for a free account. You can do this by visiting the website, clicking “I’m a Source,” and signing up.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get 3x/day emails with journalist requests. Look through the queries, and see if any fit your expertise.
Once you’ve found a query to which you want to respond, send an email to the journalist with your quote or expert insight.
Include a link to your website or blog, and follow their guidelines. It also doesn’t hurt to demonstrate authority by showing places where you or your company have been featured.
Now, you should have a great idea of how to increase organic traffic to your website! These steps may seem like a lot of work at first, but once you get into a groove, they will become second nature. Keep tracking your results, and you’ll improve over time!