What purpose does a website serve if you don’t have any traffic? There are many tactics you can implement to help your website show up in top search engine result pages by driving traffic and interest to your site. For years, Google cited keyword optimization as the main driver to generate traffic and increase page rank, however, due to “keyword stuffing,” Google became smarter and created other ways to help decipher which pages are the most credible, authoritative and relevant to what users are searching for.
Below are tactics to help drive traffic to your website and increase page rank, in addition to keyword optimization.
Register your site with Google Search Console
This is one of the first things you want to do once you have a live website. Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmasters) is a no-charge web service by Google where webmasters can check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. There are many tools available within this service, but some top features to check out include:
- Look at crawl errors and see if any blog posts are keeping Google from indexing
- Look at HTML improvements, which will give a better idea of whether or not a URL is too long, short, non-informative or duplicated
- Look at search queries and see what keywords you’re showing up under and driving traffic versus what you want to show up under
Related: 5 Free Ways To Drive Website Traffic
Generate a reliable sitemap
Defined straight from Google, a sitemap is: “A file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”
If you want to generate a sitemap for your website, this is a great free online tool.
Plug in your website URL and click “start.” Once it’s ready, download the file called “sitemap.xml.” Save this to your computer and log into Google Webmasters. Under your website account, go to “crawl” on the left side and click on “sitemaps.” This is where you can upload the .xml file.
The best part about sitemaps is that you only have to do this step once! After that, Google will regularly update and refresh the sitemap as you add or delete pages.
Make your website format HTTPS
Google tends to rank https sites over non-https sites. HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. Obviously, now after knowing the acronym, HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP – the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you’re connected to.
The “secure” means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted (concealed data). Since Google wants the entire web to switch to HTTPS, it announced a small page rank boost to those who switch.
Make sure to have reliable and fast website hosting
Several studies have been conducted that show quick and responsive sites are more likely to increase page rank. Google is all about creating the best user experience, and since a slow load time negatively impacts the user-experience, Google won’t want to drive traffic to it.
While images are a sign of quality content, there’s no way for Google to know what your images are showing unless you include an alt tag on them. Optimizing an image with an alt tag helps Google to read it, and can also play a huge role in the page load speed of your site. Another bonus about images is that if you create images, you have a high chance of them gaining backlinks when other websites use your image, therefore, giving your site credibility.
Provide relevant and topical content
If you’ve spent a fair amount of time learning about SEO, relevancy and topical content are sure to be a part of your new vocabulary. But what does Google really mean by relevancy and topical content?
Topical content has to do with backlinks or links coming into your site. Websites that carry similar content to what is out there on the web are said to be topical. Websites that are topical tend to have a positive impact on page rank.
Relevancy has to do more with related terms. Google is focused on semantics and context. Google has the ability to index an article and know if the content is relevant. BuzzSumo gives a great example of this: “The survey gives an example where Google knows it’s very likely that the word ‘car’ is relevant in an article in which the word ‘bumper’ occurs, while this is not true for the term ‘refrigerator.’ This strategy is called co-occurrence analysis.”
Increase internal and external links within your site
Internal links and external links (in-bound and out-bound) are an easy and effective way to drive traffic, increase relevancy and increase time spent on your site. Internal links help Google bots index pages and understand your site architecture, thus increasing page rank power. External links are used by Google to determine the popularity of a given web page. External links to authoritative sites are considered in the algorithms and have a positive impact on page rank (whether they’re in-bound or out-bound).
Share, share, share to drive traffic
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, whatever the social channel is, get your website out there and share your content. This will increase links to your site, thus driving traffic and increasing page rank. An interesting note about Google+ is that, according to Buffer, “content that you post to Google+ is far more likely to show up in search results than other pages, websites, articles and content posted to other social networks because Google ranks their own social network higher and they crawl it faster.”
For those who have never considered posting to Google+, here is at least one good reason to start.
Consider the keywords you are using
We don’t want to ignore the importance of keywords. Keywords and phrases in your content are what make it possible for users to find your site through search engines. After researching the most relevant and topical keywords to use, make sure to use keywords in a number of places in your site. A general rule of thumb is to put your keywords in about one to two percent of your text. This includes in the title, URL, meta tags, image files and in several places throughout your page. Can you guess what keywords I chose to focus on throughout this post? I’ll give you a hint: both are in the title of the article.
In summary, there are many ways to help drive traffic and increase your page rank, other than using the obvious keyword optimization strategy. Keep in mind, Google is always changing its rules, so SEO is an important topic to keep up with.