This week, we’ve got a guest post from Jim Milan, the SEO Manager for Auto Accessories Garage, a fast-growing online retailer of automotive parts and accessories.

If you run a small business, one of the many challenges you face is increasing the number of relevant visitors coming to your website.

The organic channel is a crucial source of traffic for small businesses with limited marketing budgets because it is the result of ranking highly in unpaid search results.

But with the real estate for traditional organic search results shrinking, how does a small business stay competitive in this arena?

Here are five proven ways to skyrocket your site’s organic traffic:

Write mind-blowing content

There really is no way around it. Pouring as much of your efforts into creating mind-blowing content is the number one way to gain more traffic from search engines. Google’s RankBrain, the machine-learning part of Google’s search algorithm that helps process search results, has become increasingly adept at figuring out whether users are finding value in a particular search listing.

Those not employed by Google can only speculate as to how RankBrain actually works, but one theory outlined by Larry Kim, founder of Wordstream, is that it is determining the value of search listings by examining user engagement metrics.

One such engagement metric is dwell time. If a visitor is spending several minutes on a webpage, then it is reasonable to assume that the visitor is engaged with the content and finding it useful or intriguing.

Dwell time can have an influence on your rank.

If a webpage has a high dwell time, it is likely to continue moving up in rank on the first page of search results. The key takeaway is that your content needs to grab the reader’s attention and really engage your site’s visitors to demonstrate to search engines that it is valuable and truly deserving of a top position in search results.

Optimise title tags for click-through-rate (CTR)

Click-through-rate (CTR) is another engagement metric that gives insight into the value of a search listing. If a particular listing has a high CTR with a low bounce rate, it indicates that it is a good match for the query.

Because of this, it is more likely to rise in ranking on the first page of search results. Conversely, if a search listing is receiving far fewer clicks than other search results, it is much more likely to fall in ranking and slide off of the first page of results.

One way to increase your CTR is to use a proven headline template that includes 4 elements:

  • The Format: List, Quiz, Infographic, Facts, Strategies
  • Emotional Hook: Amazing, Insane, Powerful, Unbelievable, Surprising
  • Content Type: Images, Videos, Quotes, Pictures, Facts, Strategies
  • Your Subject: Pets, Marketing, Politics, Health

Example from 3 Unusual Hacks to Dramatically Up Your LinkedIn Game

Acquire authoritative backlinks

While positive engagement metrics are a key part of what keeps a search result on the first page of the SERPs, backlinks are still highly important for ensuring you appear on the first page at all. One great way to acquire authoritative backlinks is to respond to queries on HARO and Source Bottle.

Journalists and bloggers regularly look for sources for their stories on these platforms. Responding to HARO queries is an excellent way to land a link on a highly trafficked site like Huffington Post or Forbes.

Another way to acquire links that will boost your site’s domain authority is by using a link checking tool like ahrefs or SEMrush. With these tools, you can view the sites that are linking to your competitors and place them in order, from highest to lowest, by domain authority. Then you can reverse-engineer how your competitors were able to acquire these backlinks and perform outreach to obtain these types of links for your own site.

Think “mobile-first”

Google has begun the launch of a new mobile-first index in 2017, which means it will rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users. This shows that it has never been more important to have a website that produces a positive user experience when browsing on mobile devices.

Google also recently rolled out a page for testing the mobile speed of a webpage, which further demonstrates that the search engine is stressing the importance of good mobile design. It is worthwhile to review all of your site’s pages on a mobile device to ensure they are quick loading, aesthetically pleasing, and user-friendly.

Consider adding AMP coding to your website’s content pages like your site’s blog or news section. According to Search Engine Land, “AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-backed project designed as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices.” Web pages that use AMP coding appear within special places in the search results, including visually dominating carousels, and also include a neat lightning-bolt “AMP” icon displayed next to the search result.

Increase the page speed

On March 22nd, 2017, Google announced that page speed would be a ranking factor in its mobile-first index. Compressing your site’s images is a great way to increase the page speed of your site’s pages. Test each of your site’s pages in Google PageSpeed Insights. At the bottom of the PageSpeed Insights results page, you will see text that reads, “Download optimized image, JavaScript, and CSS resources for this page.” Clicking this will download the compressed versions of your images, JavaScript, and CSS files. You can then upload the compressed images to your site, which will increase the page speed.

Website speed can have an influence on organic traffic.

Finding a great hosting service is another way to quickly boost your site speed. It is best to think about your particular website’s hosting needs in order to find the most appropriate hosting plan. Consider the number of daily visitors you expect, the number of pages on the site and size of the site’s data, any special version of software that may be needed, and the amount of money you’re willing to spend on a monthly basis. If you run a WordPress site, there are a number of companies that offer excellent managed WordPress hosting, including Siteground, 1&1, and InMotion.

Wrapping up

These SEO tactics continue to produce consistent increases in search engine visibility for good reason: they follow the guidelines of search engines while providing for an excellent user experience. By experimenting with the ideas listed here, you will set yourself on the path toward more organic visitors and increased conversions. Good luck!