In the first part of our SEO For Beginners series, you have familiarized yourself with some of the basic SEO terms – what they are, and how they can help you in your website optimization. You learned what search engine optimization is, and why it’s such an important set of methods to utilize when creating a website. We’ve also discussed keywords, and how you can use them in order to make your website more relevant to search engines for a given topic. Another thing that you’re now aware of is that you not only need to have good content but that your content also needs to be optimized in order for your website to rank higher (or at all).
This week, we are going to talk about website traffic – what it is, how to increase it, and the role backlinks play.
Whatcha Been Cooking?
After realizing that your little online cookbook needs a lot more work in order for it to start ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, you have decided to roll up your sleeves and start writing original content for each of your exotic recipes. Apart from just listing ingredients, and the preparation methods, you now know that you also have to write good quality content. You pay extra attention to the grammar and tone of your text and deliver a nice story to your readers.
Keep in mind that you might struggle, and that’s perfectly fine – don’t give yourself a hard time. Some days, you just won’t find any inspiration to write about ginger. Other days, you won’t have the time to. But after a while, you’ll have a nice little collection of well-thought-out, and well-written recipes.
Perfect. That’s one big hurdle behind you.
But, what now?
Now you need to learn how to drive traffic to your cooking website.
What is website traffic? We define it simply as the number of users who visit a website. You can also say that it’s a measure of how effective a certain website is at attracting an audience. When you click on any URL, you drive traffic to it.
But is it really that simple? Well, back in the early days of the Internet, it was. Nowadays, we’re no longer only interested in the number of users who visited our website. There are several other factors that we take into account when we think of website traffic these days. Luckily for us, there are a number of tools that help us see how much traffic we’re accumulating. The most popular and comprehensive among them is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tracking tool that encompasses a wide spectrum of metrics relating to website traffic.
Since the purpose of our SEO For Beginners article is to familiarize you with the basics, we’re just going to name a couple of important functions that Google Analytics measures for you. In the future, we are going to dedicate an entire post to this helpful tool, teach you how to use it (as some beginners tend to find it a bit intimidating), and show you the best ways to utilize it. For now, however, let’s take a look at some of the most important traffic-related data it can show us.
- how many users visited your website
- how long did they stay around
- what country are they coming from
- which device are they using
Why is it important for us to know any of this information?
Let’s start with the first one – the number of users who visited our website. Well, this one is obvious – without it, we wouldn’t know how much traffic our pages are getting.
The second piece of information shows us how long our visitors have spent on a certain page. This helps us understand what our visitors find most interesting, and create more content that we see is popular or engaging.
The third metric lets us know about the location of our visitors. Your recipe website is currently in English, but if you see that you’re getting a fair amount of traffic from, say, Chile, you might want to integrate an automatic translation tool (or have the website properly translated) so that your Spanish speaking visitors feel more at home with your recipes.
Finally, the Google Analytics tool shows you whether your visitors are viewing your website on their phone, tablet, or computer. Knowing this is crucial for web design. If the majority of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, you’ll want to optimize your website accordingly. It should not only look good on phones and tablets but also be user-friendly, and easy to navigate.
What are some of the ways we can drive traffic to our website?
There are two different types of traffic for you to consider
When you visited The Gunny Sack, you drove organic traffic to their website. Notice how it didn’t come up as an ad, but was merely there, at the top of the search results. That chicken recipe earned its #1 spot organically.
Organic traffic is simply traffic from visitors who find a website via search engines. On the other hand, we have paid traffic. This might sound dodgy, but it’s really nothing more than paying certain companies to promote your website. So when you see this [ad photo of google results] you’re really just seeing a website that paid google ads to be shown at the top of the search results.
(Even though you can build a website that drives entirely organic traffic, you might want to look into advertising your page, if you’re willing to spend a bit of money to promote yourself online. Remember that either approach has associated costs.)
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Although you’ve optimized your website, and written great content, it will take time for you to see any traffic. For many website owners, this is discouraging.
“I’ve spent so much time working on my content, and it’s still invisible.”
All we have to say is: this is perfectly normal. Even big, pricey SEO companies can’t promise you a massive surge in traffic within the first month or two. Website management takes time and patience, so even if you don’t get many clicks in your first couple of weeks – or months, try not to let it deter you from working on your website.
But what if you really want to push more traffic to your website at the early stages? Luckily for you, there is a way to do that: by building backlinks.
In our first instalment of the beginners’ SEO, we linked to a page that contains the recipe for 30-minute orange chicken. That action is called backlinking – we referred to another website from our own. Whenever someone clicks on it, the analysts at their website are going to see that the traffic came from deptxconsulting.com. Backlinks are also referred to as inbound links, and they highly contribute to a website’s authority. That means that the more backlinks your page gets, the more visible your site will be on search engines.
What’s the best way to build backlinks?
In our intro course, we’re just going to name a few. Make sure to come back in a couple of weeks, when we publish an article dedicated entirely to link building.
First of all, try contacting other website owners / contributors that have the same niche content as you. Since yours happens to be recipes, you’re going to try to get in touch with other cooking websites, and ask them to write articles for them, in which you’re going to link to your site. This is great for both of you: on one hand, you get a valid and legitimate backlink; on the other, they get good quality content that will help their website rank higher.
Secondly, you can look up internet forums that are related to your niche. See a place where people are looking for exotic chicken recipes? Why not respond with a link to one from your online cookbook? Make sure not to be intrusive, though, and not to spam forums with your website, as this can only harm you in the long run, and ruin all your hard work.
You should also establish a social media presence, and share your recipes on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit. They key to this is choosing one, or a couple, and consistently engaging with your growing audience on those platforms.
Finally, you can comment on other blog posts, and link your name to your website. Again, do not spam comments. Try to be helpful, or inquisitive, not and not do anything which would result in a ban, and hurt your reputation.
Building backlinks takes time and effort. If you choose to contact someone you want to write content for, and they turn you down, don’t let it dishearten you. Simply contact more authors, and eventually you’ll come across someone who’s willing to collaborate with you.
And that’s it!
After you’ve implemented all of your newly acquired knowledge, you’re finally going to see some results, and your website grow. And with a lot of hard (but rewarding) work, it might be your recipe for 30-minute chicken at the top of the Google search results one day.
We hope that our short two-part introduction to SEO helped demystify it, and demonstrate that it really isn’t as hard as you might have originally thought. Dept X is looking forward to bringing you more content related to SEO and in-depth web development. For now, try to gather everything you’ve learned, and put it to good use on your website. And when it finally pays off, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. But more than that, explore ways to capitalize on that newfound success. And check back here for creative approaches to do just that.