It is widely known (and accepted) that organic traffic should make the biggest chunk of a website’s incoming visitors because it is free, highly convertible and sustainable, and generates leads — except that for most companies this is not the case. 

The amount of time and money spent on growing these websites’ organic traffic is relatively high, most of the traffic that comes to their website bounces away, and they constantly struggle to keep their pages’ positions in the SERPs. 

The problem is most of these companies don’t have the right SEO strategy in place. What they have basically consists of some haphazard efforts to accomplish ambiguous goals and metrics and their occasional success is soon slapped by their competitors’ powerful SEO strategy. 

In order to have the right strategy in place and beat their competition, these companies need to answer some basic questions before embarking on any SEO strategy:


1- What keywords to target?

When it comes to choosing the keywords to rank for, most people refer to their gut feeling. Their incomplete idea of what ideal customers should search for leads to focusing on some incoherent sets of keywords that would only waste their budget and confuse their visitors. 

What they should do instead is doing a comprehensive keyword research.  

Keyword researching is the most important step in your SEO and digital marketing strategy. The reason is writing content around the right keywords could attract the right kind of audience to your blog which could in turn increase the chances of conversion. 

The general guide for choosing the right keywords is to start with generic concepts and then narrow them down until you reach the right ones.

So the first step is determining a generic or head keyword you want to rank for, for example “SEO”. You probably know what you’re writing about in your blog, don’t you? What is popular in your niche? What are the top pages of your niche in the SERPs? Listing ideas and generating keywords from them is a good idea. 

Then you start the process of narrowing down the head keyword, in our case “SEO”, to determine what it is that you’re exactly aiming for in your article. 

Most guides recommend using keyword tools such as Google keyword planner, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or any other tool around. The point is these tools are good for coming up with keywords that contain the head keyword. If you limit yourself to the suggestions by these tools, you miss out on a lot.

For example what are some of the most popular keywords that come to mind when thinking of the head keyword “SEO”? How about “backlinking”, “keyword research” “cloaking” “long-tail keywords” “meta-tags” “semantic indexing”, the name of the big SEO companies or top experts, and so on? These keywords are not suggested by any keyword research tool, but are of great importance when thinking about “SEO”.

However, these tools provide great information on the keywords such as volume. The keywords with more search volumes are more valuable than others. 

Let’s get back to the process of narrowing down your generic keywords. In order to find out the specific keywords that people are interested in and search for, you can search the generic keywords in the social media platforms including quora or reddit and see what related keywords are being repeated. 

Quora could be an ideal source for finding out some real questions on specific topics. Just search for your keyword in the search box and you’ll see lots of questions on your query. To make your search easier choose “topics” in the “By Type” section on the left hand side of the screen. 

Once you choose a specific topic, there will be lots of other popular topics suggested to you. Try to extract some recurrent keywords from the questions and then check them in the keyword research tools to find out the volume. 

For example after searching for SEO and heading to the Topics section, I found out that there are many questions on “backlinks” “getting free traffic” and “increasing traffic”. So I checked the keywords in SERPs, a free keyword research tool, and found out that all of them have high search volumes. 

Now that we have a general understanding of how to do keyword research, the next question is how to use the keywords? 

There are nine places you should add your keywords to: 

  1. the title element
  2. Meta descriptions
  3. Headline
  4. Content body
  5. External anchors
  6. ALT attributes
  7. URL
  8. Image names
  9. Internal links

Editing each of the mentioned places in your content is easy. The title element and URL are easily edited in WordPress when you’re composing the postThe meta description is also easily edited using Yoast SEO plugin. At the end of each post, you can edit the meta description by clicking on “edit snippet”. 

The meta description is also easily edited using Yoast SEO plugin. At the end of each post, you can edit the meta description by clicking on “edit snippet”.

Also when uploading your images in WordPress, you can set ALT texts or descriptions for them in the box. 

2- What is high-quality content?

In a whiteboard Friday video on the on-page SEO principles, Rand Fishkin explains that your content should “fulfill the researcher’s goal and satisfy their intent”. 

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What this means is that when curating your content, bear in mind that people have an initial intent (such as learning about a topic) and an ultimate goal (such as buying a product, or registering in a course) and then try to fulfil both of them.

For example when someone is searching for “types of wedding formal wear,” his initial intent is to see various kinds of wedding formal wear, but their ultimate goal is to buy a product. 

What you should do is to produce content that gives specific and valuable information about “X number of wedding tuxes/dresses men/women look great in”, AND provide links to where people can actually buy these products. 

In the same video, Rand provides another piece of advice: instead of producing the kind of content everybody produces or is able to produce, you should focus on providing unique value in your content. 

There are three main questions you should ask before publishing your content: first, “What makes this better than what already ranks?” do you have better answers to the questions raised in your content?, second, “Why will this be difficult or impossible for others to replicate?” can everybody write the same kind of content as you did or is it difficult for people to do your job?, and third, “Who will help amplify this piece of content and why?” who will share your content or give backlinks to it, and why should they do so?

Answering these three questions will determine whether your content can get good rank in SERPs or not. 

Here are some questions to ask in order to know your customers and their intent better:


  • What are the demographic and psychographic features of your target audience? Use surveys to get to understand your audience better. Tools such as SurveyAnyPlace or LeadQuizzes are very useful for getting to know your customers. 
  • What are your audience’s concerns and what do they desire the most? Talk frequently with your sales and support teams and figure out what concerns your customers the most and how you should address these with your content. Essential soft skills such as interpersonal relationships, meaningful communications, and sympathy  are getting more and more important in marketing these days. 
  • What’s your customers’ journey like? Take time to determine when your customers start interacting with you in the first place and how this relationship develops. Create a customer journey map so that you’d know how to support your customers with your content throughout their journey with you. Find out where on social media your customers spend more time on and be active most there. 
  • Who are your competitors and what products are they offering? Do a rigorous competitive analysis to know how to beat your competitors. Study their product features and figure out the most favorite ones. You’ll know what features of your own products should be boldly mentioned in your content more frequently and what shouldn’t. 
  • What topics and keywords are your competitors targeting and how can you outrank them? Competitive analysis tools such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, Buzzsumo, Similarweb, etc. would give you basically all the information you need about your competitors and how to outrank them. Find out what pieces perform well for them and try to produce content that outperforms them (e.g. by building more links, producing more comprehensive content, increasing web traffic to them to encourage more engagement etc.)


3. How to get quality backlinks?

You need to have as many quality backlinks to your article as possible if you want it to rank well. And I say quality backlink because apart from the number of backlinks, the quality of the websites linking to you is also important. The question is how to get more quality backlinks?

Well, who is a better master in quality backlinking than Brian Dean? If you enter his website, Backlinko, you’ll see a case-study that leaves you absolutely speechless. It’s title is “How I Increased My Traffic By 110% In 14 Days”. 

In the blog post, Brian talks about the skyscraper technique and how it helped him get lots of backlinks to one of his blog posts. He explains that there are three general steps in this technique: 

  1. Find link-worthy content
  2. Make something even better
  3. Reach out to the right people

For finding the link worthy content Brian recommends searching for the content that has already performed well. For this he recommends using tools such as ahrefs, Buzzsummo. Ahrefs can show you the most popular posts of a website and the number of their backlinks, and Buzzsummo can show you the most shared content of a website. You can also search for specific keywords such as “google ranking factors” and check out the first ten results. You can then check the backlinks to the post using tools such as ahrefs. 

For the second step, making better content, Brian recommends making the link-worthy content longer, making it up-to-date, giving it a better design, or making it more thorough. 

For reaching out to the right people and offering your new content, Brian recommends tools such as ahrefs, Majestic SEO, and Open Site Explorer for exporting the websites that have backlinked to the content you chose in the first step. Then you can contact the website’s webmaster and offer your better content. Using a tool such as Linkio is also a great help for choosing the right anchor text for your links. 

With the Skyscraper technique, you no longer need to spend a lot of time on guest posting or pay others to do backlinking for you. 

4. How to decrease bounce rate and increase dwell time? 

According to Google Analytics, bounce rate is the percentage of single page visitors to a blog. Say people have entered your blog post, read it, and then clicked back or closed the window without clicking on any other link from your site; if all of your visitors do this, your bounce rate would be 100%. A bounce rate of 60% means that 60% of your visitors left the page without clicking on any other link from your site. 

Dwell time on the other hand is the period of time spent between when people click on your site in the search results and when they click the back button to return to the SERP. Say somebody finds your page in the search results, clicks on it, spends a good 5 minutes to read it, and then clicks on the back button to read another one; the 5-minute period spent on the blog post is its dwell time. More dwell time (more than 2 minutes) on your page indicates that the user is engaged with your content, which is a positive factor in your ranking. 

Less dwell time (around seconds — also known as pogo sticking) on the other hand, indicates that the user does not find the content useful and thus clicks back to find a useful one. Dwell time determines whether people find your content a solution to their problem. 

It seems logical that when you can get people to spend more time on your blog, they probably have a good user experience and try your other posts. 

For example when you optimize your blog post for the keywords that will probably drive more leads to it, people will find your content relevant to their needs and click on your subscription button, thus taken to another page. Or when you optimize your blog for a good and easy navigation and a timely offer of relevant content, you can be more confident that people will visit other pages. 

The first thing you need to optimize to increase your visitors’ dwell time is your website’s speed. Your hosting plays an important role here. If you’re using WordPress, make sure you invest in a good WordPress hosting to make sure your website is always up and running smoothly.  

Using videos on your pages could increase the dwell time of your visitors on your website. Explainer videos are always interesting to visitors. They’re easier to watch and get people’s attention much easier. Incorporating other ways of marketing (such as sms marketing) is a good way for getting people on your pages and increasing their engagement. 

It’s also a great idea to prepare some special giveaways for your email subscribers and get them on your website again and again. People are fond of PDF files when it comes to giveaways. To make the content production phase easier, you can use JotForm’s free PDF editor. It speeds up the process by providing templates and allowing you to customize your files quite easily. 


Managing your SEO campaign: 

From determining your visitors’ intent and deciding on what keywords to target to optimizing your content for more engagement and less bounce rate, SEO campaigns are huge projects to manage properly. SEO consultants and strategists, content managers and producers, and link builders and outreach specialists should all work in tandem in order to make sure all the processes are in line properly. Experts recommend using the right task management softwares to properly manage the work-flow. The daily tasks of an SEO campaign could easily be assigned, completed, and reviewed to make sure they’re truly reinforcing your traffic generation goals. 


**The views & opinions expressed in this guest post are of the guest author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the Design Roast community as a whole.**

About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

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