FROM ZERO TO THOUSANDS
Welcome SEO ninja, to this guide on how to increase organic traffic.
What I am going to share in this guide are the real life tactics that brought my blog from zero to thousands of visits a month.
These not-so-secret techniques are 100% valid, and are based on my real life blog that is about 10 months old, started from scratch.
Sorry to you guys who are expecting to find magical unicorns, I do not have fantastic beasts here.
What I have done, is pure hard work of creating interesting content, and playing with the many positive ranking factors to rank articles on the first page of Google.
Eventually, they all stacked up to a very decent amount of organic traffic – for free.
HOW THIS GUIDE IS ORGANIZED
If you are into building traffic for your own website, I have organized this guide into a few main sections to tackle :
Give, not manipulate
There are probably a lot of ranking factors, but if you manage to do most of it right – Your articles should rank better, and you will be on the way to getting more organic traffic for your website.
Also a short note that as I thought about how to structure this guide, I figured there will be 2 schools of readers here – The guys who are already experts in SEO, and the guys who are new to SEO.
So for you guys who are expert ninjas, be patient with the boring parts as I am writing for the new guys as well.
SECTION A : GIVE, NOT MANIPULATE THE SEARCH ENGINES
Before we start, I need to address this.
Yes, some SEO guru managed to boost his organic traffic by 260% in a short 2 weeks.
Pfft. This noob here only managed 300% in 3 months, and still dares to teach how to increase organic traffic.
Well, for you guys who are new and expecting silver bullets from the SEO world, here is the rude awakening.
|💡 You cannot control the search engines, and you don’t even try to.|
As much as we all love some fast and furious action, we need to realize that we cannot control the big boys.
The fabled “rank first now” push button does not exist.
Plus, we have learnt from history that all extreme attempts to manipulate rankings have been met with penalties.
So aye, the new game plan is not about manipulating, but to give what the search engines are looking for – good signals.
SEO is not an intellect defunct race on who can score better or faster.
It is about what works, and what will keep you at the top.
SECTION B : TECHNICAL
Yes, I just have to start with the scariest part.
But know this as well, technical issues are well within your control, and probably a one-time effort.
So deal with them fast, they are not as painful as you think it is.
B1) FAST AS LIGHTNING – GET A GOOD HOST
When I started my first blog, I made a bad choice of hosting company.
A certain slow daddy company had cheap hosting plans, but the performance and support is terrible beyond words.
It took an average of 15 seconds to load a single page, and my blog was never found on search engines.
The top ranking pages all loaded within 3 to 5 seconds, so I figured – As long as you are on a slow host, you will never score.
I ditched slow daddy, and eventually, my blog made it’s way into the halls of Valhalla.
If you need to test how fast your website loads, there are plenty of tools online, such as the Pingdom Website Speed Test.
B2) ENABLE CACHING
The most basic form of caching saves some parts of the website onto the user’s device, and thus speeding up following visits.
For you guys who are on WordPress, simply install the W3 Total Cache Plugin (or a similar caching plugin), and that does the magic.
For you guys who are on your own customized websites, you need to do some form of caching magic yourself, or just ask a developer to do it.
What is minify?
Simply put, weak humans write code line by line. But computers don’t actually need them to be line by line. They can read it in a chunk.
Minify comes in a few forms to speed up loading, such as stripping all the useless line breaks that lousy humans put in, and combining various codes together.
Code ninjas, feel free to right click -> view page source on this page to see for yourself.
Again for WordPress users on W3 Total Cache, this is as simple as going under Performance -> Minify. Turn on HTML minify, JS minify, and CSS minify.
B4) RESPONSIVE DESIGN
For those who are not code ninjas, don’t get this wrong.
Responsive design does not mean fast loading, nor things like the buttons should respond when you click on it.
To understand this, you need a bit of history. In the days long past, websites are pretty much designed to fit specific screen sizes.
Then came along smartphones and tablets. The fixed sized designs no longer fit well onto the small screens, and people had to squint to read the text.
Thus some smart monkeys came up with “responsive design”. A website design that will magically resize itself to fit onto smartphone, tablet and big screens.
Why is this so important?
Because visitors will turn off when they cannot navigate your website in comfort, and that is a negative signal to search engines.
WordPress users, you can rest easy. Most of the modern themes should be responsive now, just access your own website on your phone to make sure that reading is comfortable.
P.S. Google and Bing seems to be smart enough to know which are the “mobile friendly” websites. Reward those that are, and slap those that are not.
B5) LET THEM KNOW OF YOUR EXISTENCE
Yes, this is an optional step, but do not skip this.
It may take ages for Google and Bing to find a new website in the Internet galaxy today.
Simply register, and the big brothers will become aware of your website.
Plus, you will get a lot of cool analytics data to work with.
SECTION C : CONTENT
Content is king.
They are, and good contents are the number one reason to scoring on the top of search engines.
To those who are still thinking “I can score a lousy article with black magic” – good luck. Because it is not going to stick on the top for very long.
Search engines are sophisticated enough these days to read user signals.
When users exit from your page fast, your ranking will drop like a rock. Fast.
So learn to write good content.
Give people what they want, and you will be rewarded just as well.
C1) MAKE THINGS LOOK GOOD
This is not quite content, but rule number one – make things look good.
Yep, I believe most people in this world will prefer a website that is easy to read, navigate, and looks pretty.
So checklist –
- Responsive design, if you have not already done so.
- Legible font size on big screen, phones and tablets.
- Reasonably well spaced fonts.
- Good color scheme (things like not putting red text on brown background).
What has this got to do with getting more traffic?
When more people stay on your website longer, it sends the good vibes to the search engines.
A few “gurus” may say that this is complete rubbish, but I do think that these are simple things that can be easily done.
If it scores brownie points, why not?
Just kill it.
Do whatever it takes to rank better, and get more traffic.
C2) MORE THINGS TO LOOK GOOD
Also, the “other” things that will make yourself look good :
- A logo, if you are bad at design, just spend a few bucks at Fiverr to get yourself a logo.
- A “Contact Us” page.
- An “About Us” page.
- Disclosure page… if you are displaying ads or selling affiliate stuff.
What’s the point again?
Being “legit”. These pages do seem to earn you some brownie points, and it’s good to have some law coverage in either way.
C3) GRAB IT BY THE LONG TAIL
Always combine your article with keyword research.
If you are new to the SEO game, keywords are basically the things that you search for. That can be anything from guitars to food to metaphysics.
Long tail keywords are are a string of 3 or more words, and we want to target those. Simply because they are more specific – when we just search for “guitar”, that could mean anything.
People will usually search for more specific things like “Guitar lessons for beginners”, which makes more sense.
If you want, you can even target the very specific things like “Blues guitar lessons for beginners”.
C4) TARGET NEW TRENDS
Keyword research depends on past data, and there is another way to score for organic traffic – predicting new trends.
If you know of a certain new product, movie or trend in particular, write about it.
Who knows, it might be a hit.
C5) THE BITS AND PIECES OF WRITING
Interesting content, that is what you will need.
But this is not the stone age, use plenty of images and videos in your article.
Plus, if you want more SEO magic to score your articles, remember to add the following :
- Related links – internal and external.
- Include your keyword into the title.
- Use your keyword in the first 100 words.
- Structure your article well – use headings, points and tables.
If you need more writing tidbits, read my complete SEO writing guide.
C6) QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
Blog frequently, so say the “gurus”.
But in fact, that is false, and has nothing to do with gaining organic traffic.
It is not about creating a lot of useless random articles, but to create long beefy ones that will score.
Users staying longer and sharing your posts – that is what search engines are looking for. The short useless posts will definitely not get you anywhere near that.
So quality, not quantity.
If you must, revise and rewrite your old posts to make them score.
D1) CREATE SOCIAL PROPERTIES FOR YOUR WEBSITE
What is a blog or website without a Facebook page these days?
It’s like bread with butter. Soda without sugar.
Share your awesome posts with some groups, but do not spam.
Grow your followers, and the magic happens – not just with SEO, but you will start getting even more traffic from social followers.
If you are crazy like me, start with Reddit, Pinterest, Scoop.it, Digg, Diigo, Medium, Delicious, and Filpboard as well.
D2) GROW THE FOLLOWERS
How do we grow a social account from scratch?
Make good content and share it. Yeah. If not, money is the easiest way out.
Simply slap a wad of cash, and random people will start following you for whatever reasons.
But sadly, I figure that is not an option for the majority. So the 2 dirty alternatives that I know of are :
- Invite everyone to like your page
Yeah, it’s not like you have a secret life that you want no one to know about.
- I follow you, you follow me
The classic grey hat method. Start following random people as your page, and hopefully, they will follow you back.
In either way, good content is still the key to retaining your followers.
D3) PROMOTE LIKES AND SHARES
So, how about likes and shares?
You only have to put up an interesting enough post… much as I love to say that again, but what worked the best for me so far is – Click bait.
I know there is a love hate relationship with that, but it’s super effective.
Imagine, I asked my friends to like a post, and got a measly 3 likes.
No idea why, but when I used a meme and mentioned the words “social experiment” – It exploded to a couple hundred likes and shares.
Yeah, that is probably not very ethical.
But it works, and it works magically. Like flies to a pile of turds.
Blog directories are the very first backlinks that I went for, and you can start with this when your blog has about 5 posts.
They are pretty easy to score, but it may take up to months for some of them to approve.
Just do a search for “blog directory” on Google, and submit your blog to everywhere.
If you are lazy, just pay someone to do it on Fiverr.
P.S. Do not buy random backlinks from Fiverr if you do not know what you are doing. Most of those are black hat links, even though they claim it to be manual and safe.
E2) ANSWERING QUESTIONS
The next easiest way to score links.
You will get a permanent backlink, and maybe even a chance to share your article as the answer.
An ancient tactic – join a popular forum, and post some related stuff.
But forums have changed a lot, and kind of dying in the age social media.
Plus, most forums don’t allow you to put links in the posts or in your own signature.
Definitely not as effective as before, but still worth a try.
E4) SOCIAL SHARES
Yes, if you have been sharing stuff on social media, you are already making links.
Some social sharing sites do count as backlinks.
In particular, I love links from Pinterest and Google Plus – they are registered very quickly, and are pretty powerful.
E5) BLOG COMMENTS
Another age old method.
Find another blog, and comment on an article.
A click on your user profile will most likely allow a link back to your site.
You can look for related blogs to comment on with Dropmylink.
E6) DOCUMENT SHARING
When you already have an awesome article, why not compress it into slides?
Share it out, and get yourself some links as well. (Plus some traffic)
E7) GUEST BLOGGING
Guest blogging is the another ancient method where bloggers exchange posts and write for each other – Also sort of like a link exchange.
Just do a Google search for “guest blogging sites”, and you will get a whole list of places that accepts guest blogging.
E8) VIDEO SHARING
If you are not camera shy, record a simple tutorial and post it onto YouTube.
No need for a professional studio, camera phones are mighty decent these days.
Just remember to add a link back to your related article.
SECTION F : THE RINSE AND REPEAT GAME PLAN
We have come to the end, and the game plan is simple – write killer articles, and promote the hell out of it.
Wait for a few months to see the results, while you go busy on the next article.
If you don’t see results, dig up and review your old article.
Think of what the people want, add in more good stuff, and target an easier keyword if you must.
Repeat that promotion cycle again, and that should move your ranking up inch by inch.
Eventually, when momentum will kick in as you score more articles at the top (established page and domain authority).
At that point, you will find that ranking becomes a lot easier with a matured blog, and congratulations on reaching the goal.
SECTION G : WHAT’S NEXT
If you have nailed most of the factors right, your articles should be moving up the ranking ladder and getting more organic traffic.
As far as my experience goes – anything from 2 weeks to 6 months, also depending on how competitive your chosen keywords and niche are.
So for the new blogs, don’t target the difficult keywords. It will be impossible to score.
Go for the easier keywords, or new trends that nobody is targeting yet.
With some patience and experiments, you will get it someday.
For you guys who are new and looking for ways to succeed online, I recommend checking out Wealthy Affiliate – my review here.
There are a lot of goodies inside, and it is completely free to get started as a free member. Plus, no credit card is required to join.