Last time I wrote for this blog I told you guys about the "rich" SERP elements you can seize on in your brand SERPs.
However, in order to get these SERP elements, you first need to actually come up on the results pages. You need search visibility, which I, to my shame, did not actually cover. So how to treat the content of your pages so that they start to appear on more SERPs?
"Write for people" — goes the popular advice that the search engines keep giving us about creating pages. Supposedly, if we just write for people, the pages we're creating will come up in searches without a problem.
Now, sure, it's not bad advice to write for the actual humans reading your page. But it's simply not enough if you want your pages to start appearing on SERPs more prominently.
For that, you also need to know what kind of content the search engines expect to see on your page. You need to target just the right topic cluster, organize and update the content you already have, and much more.
It sounds like an exhausting "to-do" list, but it's not that much work once you get into it. We'll go point by point, as I explain how to treat the content of your pages in a way that leads to higher SERP visibility, higher traffic, and, ultimately, higher conversions rate.
Pursuing the right topics
In order for your website's content to be more successful, you need to work with just the right topics, and waste zero time and resources trying to get into a SERP that would bring you little traffic.
Here you can either optimize the existing pages on your website, or create new pages from scratch.
I would personally advise you to first deal with optimization of the pages you currently have, and then creation of new content, keeping the actual number of pages on your website down to the essentials, since it may impact your crawl budget.
So what you need is a full list of keywords that bring people to your website on a daily basis. You'll be able to identify the evergreen content, see what you can expand upon, improve and update. You'll also see some keywords that you might've ranked for even accidentally!
Then, you need to know what pages those keywords bring traffic to, making sure that the keywords your page ranks for are the ones you want and that the pages match the desired search intent.
After that, it'll do you great to analyze your niche competitors. You can do that from two angles:
- Keywords angle
- Competitor domain angle
In the first instance, you'll start with a list of keywords/topics you intend to cover, and see what kind of pages rank for them, and be able to immediately check out what your competition's doing right, traffic-wise.
Competitor domain angle means that you already know the domain of your main niche competition. Then you can research their entire website and see what kind of pages get them their traffic, and how you can improve upon their content and seize that traffic for yourself.
I cannot stress this enough: it is impossible to build more traffic to your website until you have a full bird's eye-view of what content gets traffic in your particular niche, and what form that content takes.
Step 1. See which keywords drive traffic to which pages
This is really the basics of keyword research. Determine which keywords have worked well for you in the past, as those might be the juiciest of topics to cover and expand upon in the future as well.
Using Rank Tracker you'll be able to identify exactly which keywords bring people to your website.
- Open your project in Rank Tracker and go to Keyword Research > Ranking Keywords.
- Enter your own domain name, and wait for the tool to collect a list of keywords bringing you that sweet, sweet traffic.
Pro tip: Remember to implement search intent
From the very first moment of researching keywords, you should immediately tag them as corresponding to a certain search intent.
I've been pretty vocal about my opinion on search intent. As far as I'm concerned, any and every webmaster, no matter their experience, website size, or traffic at the moment, should first and foremost pay attention to the search intent behind the keywords they are targeting.
Head over to my search intent guide where I go in-depth about why it's so crucial that every page has a particular search intent figured out.
To briefly summarise: search intent should work in synergy with every other SEO effort, since it's literally the reason people search.
Now, if you're using Rank Tracker as your keyword research tool, then you'll likely be getting droves of keyword suggestions pretty much no matter what module you're using.
Immediately tagging all of the keywords according to their search intent helps immensely with the research, since it helps manage the list of keywords that might not be very orderly by default.
Go through your list of keywords and tag them (right-click > Add tags to selected records) in accordance with their search intent.
Better yet, create a keyword group for a more convenient integration with WebSite Auditor's Keyword Map (right-click > Move to Keyword Group)
If you have too many keywords to work with, prioritize the ones with the highest converting potential, so tag and group the keywords with commercial intent and the highest traffic first.
- Once that's done, select all the keywords, right-click, and move them to Rank Tracking.
Step 2. See the ranking pages
Now that you've segmented your initial list of keywords, we need to see if they bring your visitors to relevant pages or not.
So check your rankings and have a look at what pages rank for your keywords in the Ranking page(s) column.
At this point, you not only know what kind of keywords bring you the traffic that you need, but also what pages these keywords correspond to.
Step 3. Find what brings traffic to your competition
Now is the time for some competition research.
What kind of pages drive traffic? What are they doing right that you need to be doing?
Let's start at the beginning: do you know your biggest competitors? I think we all have a vague idea of who our competition is, but in case you want a more precise list of 10, 20, 100 websites — use a tool like Rank Tracker.
You can attack this in three ways:
- See the domains that compete with your entire domain.
- See the pages competing for the specific keywords you're interested in.
- See all of the highest-performing pages of any specific competitor.
We'll go point by point.
- Head over to the Domain Competitors, put in your domain and see a list of competitors targeting the same niche and topics as you are. This is a whole-domain approach to researching competitors: you're weighing your entire domain against those of your competition.
You'll get a list of your competition sorted by keyword intersection, so you'll see exactly who gets traffic in your niche.
Then you can pick any one of them, and look up not just which keywords both of you are targeting, but also which exact topics and keywords your competition is not only targeting, but already ranking for, that you aren't.
- Whether you're researching keywords for a new page, or optimizing an already-existing one, go to Topic Competitors in order to see the pages that target your keywords and get that sweet traffic.
Now you might ask, why not simply google your target keywords?
Because that way you can only look up one keyword at a time! With Topic Competitors, though, you can look up any number of keywords you need at once.
Then, you'll get a list of all the pages targeting those keywords, complete with their traffic stats and just how much of the keywords you're targeting they are also working with.
- Top Pages module, in turn, is for laser-sharp analysis. You want to know which of your competitor's pages perform best? This is the place to look that up. Simply put in the domain of your competitor and get a full and detailed list of the traffic their pages attracted.
You can use this list to see exactly what the top performing keyword is for every page, what kind of value it brought to the website, as well as any page's InLink Rank. Use this intel and implement it into your content strategy.
Reworking your content
One new and original thing that's new and original to absolutely nobody: things on the Web change. Fast.
Pages can drop in traffic and rankings, the information becomes dated, you might put out a few pages aiming at the same keywords leading to keyword cannibalization, or the search engines introduce major algorithm updates that could change everything for you.
This is why the most important things you can do in order to keep your traffic flow steady is to take care to update and rework, revamp, and restructure your content as much as needed.
Ideally, you want all of your traffic to be able to promote itself.
1. Keep an eye on your traffic patterns
First and foremost, of course, you need to watch how your traffic changes. And just so we're clear, it does change. In this regard, using Google Analytics is one of the best things a website owner can do for themselves.
You'll get some pretty accurate data on traffic, users, pageviews, and more, if you claim your website on Google Analytics. You'll be able to assess what pages bring you the most traffic, and how that changed over time.
This step really is a default thing for most website owners. You'll get three basic pictures:
- When you see a page that consistently draws in some users, week after week, year after year, that's that beautiful evergreen content — you want more of that.
- And then some of your content will attract "seasonal" traffic — that's an interesting beast which you should adapt to.
- Unfortunately, most of your content will be created, have a surge of traffic, and then slowly but steadily peter out into nothingness — you want to avoid that.
- And of course, some content might attract very little traffic, and then one day blow up and start bringing in a bunch of people! It's the most sought-after, least likely to happen scenario.
Launch your Google Analytics account, go to the Acquisition module and set up the report date to see the traffic stats for the previous years.
When looking at your website's traffic and how it changed throughout the year, you'll no doubt notice certain patterns that would put different pages into one of the four categories described above:
In addition to the general traffic patterns, you should pay attention to the audience's behavior — mark out buying seasons and downtime throughout the years.
To view this type of stats, choose the Ecommerce segment and select Transactions (remember that in order to do that you'll need Google Analytics' tracking code installed on your website).
You can also put tags directly on the charts Google Analytics gives you, and mark the difference between traffic spikes because of your campaign efforts, and sudden organic boosts, for example.
2. Regularly update your content to attract more traffic
This part applies more to the evergreen and "seasonal" content.
Evergreen content is great, who doesn't love it? Usually it's the web pages that aren't really "date-oriented". An "ultimate guide" will stay "ultimate", and even though you obviously need to update it, it's not emphasizing the date, so it won't be obviously desperately irrelevant in a year's time.
Seasonal traffic is, in a self-explanatory way, seasonal. So there's always a need for updating it.
The first one will keep bringing in the traffic throughout the month and even year without necessarily needing continuous updates. The second one, though, will bring traffic when it's published, during winter, and then it will bring less and less.
But around November-December, people start searching for ski masks again. That means that a page that brings in seasonal traffic will need to be updated, reworked, oftentimes you'll change the title to reflect the year, and maybe even rework the entire page since in a year the search intent changed.
You might also need to update not just for a year, but for a specific occasion, too! You might want to seize on the opportunity and rework your product pages for St. Patty's day, Halloween, or Dia de los Muertos.
Evergreen pages don't require quite that much attention, but you still can't leave them alone, because while there is such a thing as "evergreen" content, there is simply no such thing as "futureproof" content.
On the one hand, if suddenly the traffic dropped for your evergreen content, you'll need to investigate how to restructure your page to fit more with search engines' wishes and best practices.
On the other, you'll need to monitor the SEO health of your pages, checking if the links that you've placed on your page are not broken, the images are still up, and so on.
For all of your pages, no matter how consistently it's bringing you traffic, it's supremely important to:
- audit the web page frequently, and
- analyze how the SERPs around it changed.
Let's talk a little bit about how to do that in SEO PowerSuite.
Say you have a product page selling ski masks with the title "Best Ski Masks for 2020". You optimize it for transactional intent, and then you leave it be for a while.
That will keep bringing traffic throughout the year consistently, for sure. But you'll obviously need to update the title (and the information inside!) every year.
Do not fall into the trap where a website owner creates a new page for every "best of the year" page!
Simply update your older evergreen content, save the valuable backlinks, and keep it fresh, useful, and traffic-driving always.
This can be easily done using WebSite Auditor for monitoring your website's SEO/technical health.
Step 1. Analyze your SEO health. Create a project in WebSite Auditor, and let the tool run its analysis, and then go to Page Audit and put in the page in question.
You'll get a full bird's eye-view of the page, with all the possible errors laid out in front of you.
Appropriately for its name, this is a module for writing and editing your content. So you can smoothly transition from auditing your pages straight to editing them to better reflect your current priorities.
Here, you can immediately add the needed keywords (the keywords to add will be suggested to you automatically), see how your competitors are covering that same topic, and rework the structure of your page to answer the additional user questions using the Topics and questions module.
Then, you can export the HTML file, and add it to your website without any trouble.
Remember how we talked about the need to match keywords to certain pages, and have the pages correspond to the search intent of the keywords? This is one of the ways in which it pays off!
You can track a bunch of SERPs at the same time in Rank Tracker. In Project Preferences > Rank Checking Mode you can set Rank Tracker to record SERP history. This will let you see how the SERPs changed since you started tracking your target keywords.
So then in Rank Tracker, simply get to the Rank Tracking and check out SERP Analysis to get a full picture of how the SERPs changed. Make sure to not miss the possible change of search intent, and see what angle your competition chooses to address your particular topics.
3. Create "megapages"
What do I mean by megapages? You see, when you're running a website over a long period of time, certain topics might come up again and again.
At a certain point, you might have a whole slew of pages, all targeting more or less the same keywords, all struggling to get more traffic.
This is where you have to take a long, hard look at your website, and bring together a bunch of different pages into a single "umbrella" page that would be your dedicated page for whatever the topic and/or group of keywords.
This is important for a few reasons:
- It's very important to avoid keyword cannibalization
- It's not vital, but you should, as much as possible, consider your crawl budget
- While longer doesn't always equate to better, in a lot of cases, bringing together a few smaller posts into one longer one, while updating the content along the way, brings huge benefits for the website.
Another big reason for constantly looking for ways to make a single big piece of content instead of having multiple smaller ones has to do with the Site Diversity Update.
Since last year, a single domain's presence in one SERP has been limited to a maximum of two results. While, sure, there are some exceptions for some extremely authoritative websites, the rest of us really have to tread carefully.
Now, you can't allow more than 2 of your own pages to compete for the exact same keywords, as that will injure your website in a big way.
What you need to do first of all is to have a clear idea of where you've been repeating yourself.
Step 1. In Rank Tracker, go to your Preferences > Rank Checking Mode, and choose Track multiple results for keyword and click OK.
Step 2. Having let the tool check the rankings again, you'll be able to see different pages ranking for your chosen keywords. In Google Rank column you'll see a gray circle with three dots — click on it to get a list of other pages ranking for the same keywords.
This way you can easily identify if certain different pages have been competing for the same keywords. You can merge the pages together, redirecting them to a single huge megapage.
Write a single, beautiful page using Content Editor, bring together all of the keywords you need, and don't hurt your chances of ranking.
Growing your website is kind of #1 thing everybody wants. There's hundreds of articles being written, thousands of "one-stop solutions", tips and tricks you can implement.
Here, I focused specifically on the SEO side of things. And trust me, even at 3,000+ words, I only just scratched the surface of what you can do.
But these are the most important things for your website: make sure you're targeting the right search intent, choose your topics wisely, and keep updating your content consistently.
When these fundamentals are taken care of, the traffic will get to you.